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National Institute of Justice

September 1997










Probation and Prison Populations in the United States, 1980–1996


Americans’ Views on Crime and Law Enforcement:
Survey Findings
Who Wrote It?
Steps Toward a Science of Authorship Identification
DIRECTOR‘S MESSAGE National Institute of Justice
Jeremy Travis
A common thread running through much of this issue’s content is its relevance to Director
some of the strategic challenges being addressed by NIJ—challenges that arise
from and build on the evolving body of knowledge generated by research during NIJ Journal Editorial Board
the past quarter century. Sally T. Hillsman
Deputy Director for Office of
For example, Joan Petersilia’s lead article on probation practices and challenges Research and Evaluation
pertains, in its larger context, to NIJ’s strategic challenge of rethinking justice, John L. Schwarz
which encompasses the task of examining the role of agencies in dispensing Deputy Director for Office of
justice. Professor Petersilia notes that probation departments are more extensively Development and Dissemination
involved with offenders and their cases than any other justice agency and states
David Boyd
that probation officers interact with many criminal justice agencies and affect a
Director, Office of
wide spectrum of justice-processing decisions. Her analysis of probation
practices leads to a number of suggestions to strengthen probation departments Science and Technology
so they can effectively execute their justice system role and thereby benefit from
the essential ingredient of increased public support. Cheryl A. Crawford
Mary G. Graham
The importance of public support to justice agencies’ achieving goals and Marj Leaming
addressing challenges is an underlying theme of Jean Johnson’s article about Christy Visher
survey findings on Americans’ views on crime and law enforcement. She notes Edwin W. Zedlewski
robust public support for police agencies but cautions that such support should
not be taken for granted. Issue Editor
William D. Falcon
A critical strategic challenge for NIJ is to help create the tools—especially in the
area of technology—that practitioners can use to enhance performance. NIJ
Visiting Fellow Carole Chaski—in her article Who Wrote It?—describes her The National Institute of Justice Journal
progress toward creating a computer-based system designed to put authorship is published by the National Institute of
Justice, the research arm of the U.S. Depart-
identification on a scientific footing whether the text is handwritten, typed, or ment of Justice, to announce the Institute’s
found on a computer disk. policy-relevant research results and initia-
tives. The Attorney General has determined
Among the many items in this issue’s departments is one relating to NIJ’s strategic that publication of this periodical is neces-
challenge of breaking the cycle of crime and violence: In June of this year, a sary in the transaction of the public busi-
project—appropriately named Breaking the Cycle and designed by a consortium ness required by law of the Department of
of Federal agencies, including NIJ—was launched in an effort to break the cycle
between drugs and crime. Another department item pertains to rethinking Opinions or points of view expressed in this
justice—a series of symposiums on restorative justice. Three items relate to document are those of the authors and do
“creating the tools”: NIJ’s Crime Mapping Research Center Visiting Fellowship not necessarily reflect the official position
of the U.S. Department of Justice.
Program; the upcoming land transportation security technology conference,
cosponsored by NIJ and the Department of Transportation, in cooperation with The National Criminal Justice Reference
the State Department; and NIJ’s first Summer Institute, which focused on making Service (NCJRS), a centralized national
technology viable and effective for law enforcement agencies. clearinghouse of criminal justice informa-
tion, is sponsored by the Office of Justice
Programs agencies and the Office of Na-
Future issues of the National Institute of Justice Journal will continue to report on tional Drug Control Policy. Registered us-
how the Institute addresses its challenges, such as by transforming its Drug Use ers of NCJRS receive the National Institute
Forecasting program into the Arrestee Drug Abuse Monitoring Program and by of Justice Journal and NCJRS Catalog free.
intensifying research on violence against women. To become a registered user, write NCJRS
User Services, Box 6000, Rockville, MD
20849–6000, call 800–851–3420, or e-mail
Jeremy Travis
National Institute of Justice The National Institute of Justice is a com-
ponent of the Office of Justice Programs,
which also includes the Bureau of Justice
Assistance, Bureau of Justice Statistics,
Office of Juvenile Justice and Delin-
quency Prevention, and Office for Victims
of Crime.
CONTENTS Issue No. 233

PRACTICES AND C HALLENGES ................................................................... 2


S URVEY FINDINGS ............................................................................... 9

Probation in the United States

See page 2

VICTIMS ' VIEWS ON EFFECTIVENESS ......................................................... 23

Americans' Views on Crime

and Law Enforcement
See page 9

EVENTS ......................................................................................... 25

NIJ IN THE JOURNALS ....................................................................... 27

PUBLICATIONS ................................................................................. 29

Who Wrote It? NIJ AWARDS ................................................................................. 30

See page 15
FINAL REPORTS ................................................................................ 31

SOLICITATIONS ................................................................................. 32
On the cover:
Source: Bureau of Justice
Statistics NEW & NOTEWORTHY ....................................................................... 32

September 1997 1


ignores the reality of violent, preda-

Practices tory criminals. This poor public image
leaves probation agencies unable to
and compete effectively for scarce public

Although current programs are often

Challenges seen as inadequate, the concept of pro-
bation—begun in 1841 (see “Origin
by Joan Petersilia and Evolution of Probation”)—has
great appeal and much unrealized po-
This article is adapted from Professor tential. As one judge noted, “Nothing
Petersilia’s essay in volume 22 of is wrong with probation. It is the ex-
Crime and Justice, edited by Michael ecution of probation that is wrong.”4
Tonry (University of Chicago Press,
1997). Exactly how would one go about re-
forming probation? Many judges are

dult probationers in the monitoring probationers more closely,
United States surged to nearly while others are imposing more puni-
3.2 million at the end of 1996, tive and meaningful probation sen-
up from almost 2 million in 1985 and tences. Some jurisdictions have
1.1 million in 1980.1 Today they com- implemented policies and programs
prise about 58 percent of all adults designed to overcome the difficult
under correctional supervision.2 problem of finding jail and prison ca-
pacity to punish probation violators.
To cope with their workload, proba-
tion agencies—often the target of in- Unfortunately, debating the merits of
tense criticism—receive less than 10 those and other probation-reform
percent of State and local government strategies is severely limited because
corrections funding.3 Probation’s so little is known about current proba-
funding shortfall often results in lax tion practices. Assembling what is
supervision of serious felons, thereby known about U.S. probation practices
encouraging offender recidivism and so public policy can be better in-
reinforcing the public’s soft-on-crime formed is the main purpose of this
image of probation as permissive, un- article—along with offering sugges-
caring about crime victims, and com- tions on meeting the challenges facing
mitted to a rehabilitative ideal that probation agencies.

2 National Institute of Justice Journal

Probation and modern to bring to the court’s attention, and misdemeanant probationers or prepare
recommend sanctions. presentence reports.
sentencing practice
• They affect, through presentence
Given an estimated 50,000 probation
Probation departments are more exten- reports, the initial security classifi-
employees in 1994,8 and given that 23
sively involved with offenders and cation (and eligibility for parole) of
percent of them (11,500 officers) were
their cases—often starting at arrest— offenders sentenced to prison.
supervising about 2.9 million adult
than any other justice agency. Many More than 2,000 probation agencies in probationers, the average caseload that
who are arrested and all who are con- the United States6 carry out those and year was 258 adult offenders per line
victed come into contact with the pro- other responsibilities. The agencies officer. This contrasts with what many
bation department. Probation officers differ in terms of whether they reside believe to be the ideal caseload of 30
interact with many criminal justice within the executive or judicial branch adult probationers per line officer.
agencies and significantly affect a of government, how they fund ser-
wide spectrum of justice processing vices, and whether those services are Of course, offenders are not super-
decisions, including these: primarily a State or local function. vised on “average” caseloads. Rather,
probation staffs use a variety of risk
• Probation officers, in addition to According to one study, 52 percent of and needs classification instruments to
pretrial service agencies, usually staff in the typical probation department identify offenders needing more inten-
perform personal investigations to are line officers; 48 percent are clerical,
determine whether defendants will sive supervision or services. Although
support staff, and management.7 Of line risk instruments can identify offenders
be released on their own recogni- probation officers, only about 17 per- who are more likely to reoffend, funds
zance or bail. cent supervise adult felons. The re- are usually insufficient to implement
• They prepare reports that courts use maining line officers supervise the levels of supervision predicted by
as the primary source of information juveniles (half of adult probation classification instruments.9 Research
to determine whether to divert de- agencies have that responsibility) or findings indicate that, across all sites
fendants from formal prosecution.
Probation officers supervise di-
verted offenders and inform courts ORIGIN AND EVOLUTION OF PROBATION
about whether the diversionary sen-
tence was successfully complied
with, thereby influencing the court’s Probation: “A court-ordered disposition alternative through which an adjudicated
decision to proceed or not with for- offender is placed under the control, supervision, and care of a probation field
mal prosecution. staff member in lieu of imprisonment, so long as the probationer meets certain
standards of conduct.”—American Correctional Association, Probation and Pa-
• They prepare presentence reports role Directory, 1995–1997.
containing pertinent information
about convicted defendants and Probation in the United States began in 1841 with the innovative work of John
their crimes. The information is Augustus, a Boston bootmaker, who was the first to post bail for a man charged
with being a common drunk. Thanks to Augustus’s persistence, a Boston court
critically important, for research
gradually accepted the notion that not all offenders required incarceration.
repeatedly indicates that (1) the
judge’s knowledge of the defendant Virtually every basic practice of probation was conceived by Augustus. He devel-
is usually limited to what is con- oped the ideas of presentence investigation, supervision conditions, social case-
tained in the presentence report, and work, reports to the court, and revocation of probation.
(2) the probation officer’s recom- By 1956, all States had adopted adult and juvenile probation laws. Between the
mendation for or against prison cor- 1950s and the 1970s, U.S. probation evolved in relative obscurity. But a num-
relates strongly with the judge’s ber of reports issued in the 1970s brought national attention to the inadequacy of
sentence of probation, prison, or a probation services and their organization.
combination thereof. In recent years, probation agencies have struggled—with continued meager re-
• They supervise offenders sentenced sources—to upgrade services and supervision. Important developments have in-
to probation, determine which court- cluded the widespread adoption of case classification systems and various types
ordered probation conditions5 to en- of intermediate sanctions (e.g., electronic monitoring and intensive supervision).
force and monitor most closely, Those programs have had varied success in reducing recidivism, but evaluations
decide which violations of conditions of them have been instructive in terms of future program design.

September 1997 3
and felony crimes studied, about 20 elastic resource that could handle number of rearrests. Recidivism is
percent of adult felony probationers whatever numbers of offenders the currently the primary outcome mea-
were assigned to caseloads requiring system required it to.”11 (See “Who sure for probation, as it is for all cor-
no personal contact.10 Is on Probation?”) rections programs.

Probation funding has long been rec- Probationer recidivism. Summaries

ognized as woefully inadequate. From Does probation work? of probation effectiveness usually re-
the beginning, probation has continu- port the recidivism rates of felons as if
ally been asked to take on greater The most common question asked they represented the total adult proba-
numbers of probationers and conduct a about probation is, “Does it work?” tion population, instead of 55 percent12
greater number of presentence investi- By “work,” most mean whether the of it. Failure to make this distinction
gations despite stable or declining person granted probation has re- between felons and misdemeanants is
funding. “Apparently, community su- frained from further crime or reduced why profoundly different assessments
pervision has been seen as a kind of his or her recidivism—that is, the have been offered as to whether proba-
tion “works.”

In reality, there are two stories about

WHO IS ON PROBATION? probationer recidivism rates. Recidi-
vism rates are low for adults on proba-
According to a Bureau of Justice Statistics study of correctional populations in the tion for misdemeanors—data suggest
United States in 1996:1 that three-quarters successfully com-
• About 55 percent of all offenders on probation had been convicted of a plete their supervision. However, re-
felony, 26 percent of a misdemeanor. About 17 percent had been con- cidivism rates are high for felony
victed of driving while intoxicated, which can be considered either a probationers, particularly in jurisdic-
felony or misdemeanor, and 2 percent for other offenses. tions that use probation extensively,
• Women comprised 21 percent of the Nation’s probationers. where offenders are serious to begin
with, and where supervision is minimal.13
• About 64 percent of adult probationers were white, 35 percent black. His-
panics, who may be of any race, comprised 15 percent of the probation Recidivism rates vary greatly from
population. place to place, depending on the seri-
• Southern States generally had the highest per capita ratio of adult proba- ousness of the underlying population
tioners. Texas had the largest probation population, followed by California. characteristics, length of followup,
and surveillance provided. A summary
Data from one study suggest that many offenders who are granted felony proba-
of 17 followup studies of adult felony
tion are indistinguishable in terms of their crimes or criminal record from those
probationers found that felony rearrest
who are imprisoned (or vice versa).2
rates ranged from 12 to 65 percent.14
Another analysis found that 50 percent of probationers did not comply with court- Such wide variation in recidivism is
ordered terms of their probation; 50 percent of known violators went to jail or not unexpected, given the wide vari-
prison for their noncompliance.3 A more recent analysis indicates that 33 percent ability in granting probation and moni-
of those exiting probation failed to successfully meet the conditions of their super-
toring court-ordered conditions.
vision.4 A study of a national sample of felons placed on probation found that, on
Despite the desirability of predicting
any given day, about 10 to 20 percent of probationers were on abscond status,
their whereabouts unknown; no agency actively invested time finding those offender recidivism, available data and
offenders.5 statistical methods are insufficient to
do so very accurately at this time.
1. Bureau of Justice Statistics, Nation’s Probation and Parole Population Reached Almost 3.9
Million Last Year, Press Release, Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau Other probation outcomes. Another
of Justice Statistics, August 14, 1997. way to examine probation effective-
2. Petersilia, Joan, and Susan Turner, Prison versus Probation in California: Implications for ness is to look at the contribution of
Crime and Offender Recidivism, Santa Monica, California: RAND Corporation, 1986.
3. Langan, Patrick, “Between Prison and Probation: Intermediate Sanctions,” Science, 1994, those on probation to the overall crime
264:791–793. problem. Of all persons arrested and
4. Bureau of Justice Statistics, Nation’s Probation and Parole Population Reached Almost 3.9 charged with felonies in 1992, 17 per-
Million Last Year.
5. Taxman, Faye S., and James Byrne, “Locating Absconders: Results from a Randomized cent of them were on probation at the
Field Experiment,” Federal Probation, 1994, 58(1):13–23. time of their arrest.15

4 National Institute of Justice Journal

Practitioners have expressed concern were designed to be community-based sufficient resources so that the de-
about the use of recidivism as the sanctions that were tougher than regu- signed programs (incorporating both
primary, if not sole, measure of lar probation but less stringent and surveillance and treatment) can be
probation’s success.16 The American expensive than prison.19 implemented. The resources will be
Probation and Parole Association forthcoming only if the public believes
(APPA), representing U.S. probation The program models were plausible that the programs are both effective
officers nationwide, argues that recidi- and could have worked, except for one and punitive.
vism rates measure just one probation critical factor:
task while ignoring others.17 APPA They were usually Public opinion is
has urged its member agencies to col- implemented with- often cited by of-
[T]he concept of probation...
lect data on alternative outcomes, such out creating organi- ficials as a reason
as amount of restitution collected, zational capacity to has great appeal and much for supporting
number of offenders employed, ensure compliance unrealized potential. As one expanded prison
amount of fines/fees collected, hours with court-ordered policies. Accord-
conditions. When judge noted, “Nothing is ing to officials,
of community service, number of
treatment sessions, percentage of fi- courts ordered wrong with probation. It is the public’s “get
nancial obligations collected, enroll- offenders to partici- tough on crime”
the execution of probation
ment in school, days employed, pate in drug treat- demands are syn-
educational attainment, and number of ment, for example, that is wrong.” onymous with
days drug free. many probation of- sending more of-
ficers could not ensure compliance fenders to prison for longer terms.26
Some probation departments have be- because local treatment programs were Recent evidence must be publicized
gun to report such alternative outcome unavailable.20 showing that many offenders—whose
measures to their constituencies and opinions on such matters are critical
believe this practice is having a posi- Over time, what was intended as for deterrence—judge some intermedi-
tive impact on staff morale, public im- tougher community corrections in ate sanctions as more punishing than
age, and funding.18 most jurisdictions did not materialize, prison.27
thereby further tarnishing probation’s
image. Although most judges still re- When, for example, nonviolent of-
How can probation be port a willingness to use tougher, com- fenders in Marion County, Oregon,
revived? munity-based programs as alternatives were given the choice of serving a
to routine probation or prison, most prison term or returning to the com-
The public has come to understand are skeptical that the programs prom- munity to participate in intensive
that not all criminals can be locked up, ised “on paper” will be delivered in supervision probation (ISP) pro-
and so renewed attention is being fo- practice.21 As a result, some intermedi- grams—which imposed drug testing,
cused on probation. Policymakers are ate sanction programs are beginning to mandatory community services, and
asking whether probation departments fall into disuse.22 frequent visits with the probation of-
can implement credible and effective ficer—about one-third chose prison
community-based sentencing options. However, some communities invested over ISP.28
No one advocates the abolition of pro- adequate resources in intermediate
bation, but many call for its reform. sanctions and made the necessary Why should anyone prefer imprison-
But how should that be done? treatment and work programs avail- ment to remaining in the community,
able to offenders.23 In programs where no matter what the conditions? Some
Implement quality programs for offenders received both surveillance have suggested that prison has lost
appropriate probation target (e.g., drug tests) and participated in some of its punitive sting and, hence,
groups. Probation needs first to regain relevant treatment, recidivism declined its ability to scare and deter. One
the public’s trust as a meaningful, 20 to 30 percent.24 study found that for drug dealers in
credible sanction. During the past de- California, imprisonment confers a
cade, many jurisdictions developed Solid empirical evidence shows that certain elevated “homeboy” status,
“intermediate sanctions,” such as recidivism is reduced by ordering of- especially for gang members for
house arrest, electronic monitoring, fenders into treatment and requiring whom prison and prison gangs can be
and intensive supervision, as a response them to participate.25 So, the first or- an alternative site of loyalty.29 Accord-
to prison crowding. These programs der of business must be to allocate ing to the California Youth Authority,

September 1997 5
inmates steal State-issued prison needing treatment—and two-fifths of And a program of basic research to
clothing for the same reason. Wearing those clearly needing it—are under the address some of probation’s most
it when they return to the community supervision of the justice system as pressing problems should be funded.
lets everyone know they have done parolees or probationers.
“hard time.”30 Make probation a priority research
Because the larg- topic. Noted below are a few of the
It is important to est single group of questions that would be highly useful
publicize these re- Over time, probation will serious drug users for probation research to address.
sults, particularly to demonstrate its effectiveness, in any locality
policymakers who comes through the What purpose is served by monitoring
say they are impris- in terms of both reducing the justice system ev- and revoking probation for persons
oning such a large ery day, IOM con- committing technical violations, and is
human toll that imprisonment
number of offenders cludes that the the benefit worth the cost? If technical
because of the exacts on those incarcerated justice system is violations identify offenders who are
public’s desire to and reserving scarce resources one of the most “going bad” and likely to commit
get tough on crime. important gate- crime, time could be well spent uncov-
to ensure that truly violent ering such violations and incarcerating
But it is no longer ways to treatment
necessary to equate offenders remain in prison. delivery and those persons. But if technical viola-
criminal punishment should be used tors are simply troublesome, but not
solely with prison. The balance of more effectively. Research has shown criminally dangerous, devoting scarce
sanctions between probation and that those under corrections supervi- prison resources to this population
prison can be shifted, and at some sion stay in treatment longer, thereby may not be warranted.
level of intensity and length, interme- increasing positive treatment out-
Despite the policy significance of
diate punishments can be the more comes.31
technical violations, little serious re-
dreaded penalty.
On the one hand, good-quality treat- search has focused on this issue. As
Once probation’s political support and ment is not cheap. On the other hand, the cost of monitoring and incarcerat-
organizational capacity are in place, it is an investment that pays for itself ing technical violators increases, re-
offender groups need to be targeted on immediately in terms of crime and search must examine its crime control
the basis of what is known about the health costs averted. Researchers in significance.
effectiveness of various programs. California32 concluded that treatment
Who is in prison, and is there a group
Targeting drug offenders makes the was very cost beneficial: For every
of prisoners who, based on crime and
most sense for a number of reasons. dollar spent on drug and alcohol treat-
prior criminal records, could safely be
Large-scale imprisonment of drug of- ment, California saved $7 in reduced
supervised in the community? Some
fenders has only recently taken place, crime and health care costs. The study
contend that many, if not most, prison-
and new evidence suggests that the found that each day of treatment paid
ers are minor property offenders, low-
public seems ready to accept different for itself on the day treatment was re-
level drug dealers, or technical
punishment strategies for low-level ceived, primarily through an avoid-
violators—ideal candidates for com-
drug offenders. ance of crime. The level of criminal
munity-based alternatives. Others cite
activity declined by two-thirds from
The public appears to want tougher data showing that most prisoners are
before treatment to after treatment.
sentences for drug traffickers and violent recidivists with few prospects
The greater the length of time spent in
more treatment for addicts—what leg- for reform.
treatment, the greater the reduction in
islators have instead given them are crime. Research examining the characteristics
long sentences for everyone. Public
of inmates in different States (by age,
receptiveness to treatment for addicts Of course, there is much more to re-
criminal record, and substance-abuse
is important, because those familiar forming the probation system than
history) is necessary to clarify this im-
with delivering treatment say that is simply targeting low-level drug of-
portant debate. Also critical are better
where treatment can make the biggest fenders for effective treatment, but this
followup studies (ideally, using ex-
impact. A report by the Institute of would be a start. There also needs to
perimental designs) of offenders who
Medicine (IOM) of the National Acad- be serious reconsideration of pro-
have been sentenced to prison as op-
emy of Sciences notes that about one- bation’s underlying mission, adminis-
posed to various forms of community
fifth of the estimated population trative structure, and funding base.
supervision. By tracking similarly-

6 National Institute of Justice Journal

situated offenders who are sentenced reducing the human toll that imprison- 7. Cunniff, Mark, and Ilene R.
differently, researchers will be able to ment exacts on those incarcerated and Bergsmann, Managing Felons in the
refine recidivism prediction models reserving scarce resources to ensure Community: An Administrative Profile
and begin to estimate more accurately that truly violent offenders remain in of Probation, Washington, D.C.: Na-
the crime and cost implications of dif- prison. tional Association of Criminal Justice
ferent sentencing models. Planners, 1990.
Joan Petersilia is Professor of
How do probation departments and Criminology, Law, and Society at 8. Camp, George M., and Camille
other justice agencies influence one the School of Social Ecology at Camp, The Corrections Yearbook
another and, together, influence the University of California, 1995: Probation and Parole, South
crime? Decisions made in one justice Irvine. Salem, New York: Criminal Justice
agency have dramatic workload and Institute, 1995.
cost implications for other agencies
and for later decisions (such as proba- Notes 9. Jones, Peter R., “Risk Prediction in
tion policy on technical violations). To Criminal Justice,” in Choosing Cor-
1. Bureau of Justice Statistics, Proba- rectional Options That Work: Defin-
date, these systemic effects have not tion and Parole Population Reached
been well studied but research exam- ing the Demand and Evaluating the
Almost 3.9 Million Last Year, Press Supply, ed. Alan Harland, Thousand
ining how various policy initiatives Release, Washington, D.C.: U.S. De-
affect criminal justice agencies, indi- Oaks, California: Sage Publications,
partment of Justice, Bureau of Justice Inc., 1996.
vidually and collectively, is likely to Statistics, August 14, 1997. See also
generate many benefits. Bureau of Justice Statistics, Correc- 10. Langan, Patrick A., and Mark A.
tional Populations in the United Cunniff, Recidivism of Felons on Pro-
States, 1995, Washington, D.C.: U.S. bation, 1986–89, Washington, D.C.:
Conclusion Department of Justice, Bureau of Jus- U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of
Several steps may be taken to achieve tice Statistics, May 1997. Justice Statistics, 1992.
greater crime control over probationers:
2. Ibid. 11. Clear, Todd, and Anthony A.
• Provide adequate financial resources Braga, “Community Corrections,” in
3. Petersilia, Joan, “A Crime Control Crime, ed. James Q. Wilson and Joan
to deliver treatment programs that
Rationale for Reinvesting in Commu- Petersilia, San Francisco, California:
have been shown to work.
nity Corrections,” Prison Journal, Institute for Contemporary Studies,
• Combine both treatment and surveil- 1995, 75(4):479–496. 1995:423.
lance in probation programs and focus
4. Judge Burton Roberts, administra- 12. Bureau of Justice Statistics,
them on appropriate offender sub-
tive judge of the Bronx Supreme and Nation’s Probation and Parole Popu-
groups. Current evidence suggests that
Criminal Courts. Cited in Klein, An- lation Reached Almost 3.9 Million
low-level drug offenders are prime
drew R., Alternative Sentencing, Inter- Last Year.
candidates for enhanced probation
mediate Sanctions, and Probation,
Cincinnati, Ohio: Anderson, 1997:72. 13. Petersilia, Joan, Susan Turner,
• Work to garner more public support James Kahan, and Joyce Peterson,
5. The judge’s (and probation Granting Felons Probation: Public
by convincing citizens that probation
officer’s) required conditions can in- Risks and Alternatives, Santa Monica,
sanctions are punitive and in the long
clude standard conditions (reporting to California: RAND Corporation,
run cost-effective.
the probation officer and the like), pu- R–3186–NIJ, 1985.
• Convince the judiciary that offenders nitive conditions (house arrest, for ex-
will be held accountable for their ample) that reflect the seriousness of 14. Geerken, Michael, and Hennessey
behavior. the crime and increase the burden of D. Hayes, “Probation and Parole: Pub-
probation, and treatment conditions lic Risk and the Future of Incarcera-
• Give priority to research addressing (such as for substance abuse). tion Alternatives,” Criminology, 1993,
probation’s most pressing problems. 31(4):549–564.
6. Abadinsky, Howard, Probation and
Over time, probation will demonstrate Parole: Theory and Practice, 15. Reaves, Brian A., and Pheny Z.
its effectiveness, in terms of both Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Smith, Felony Defendants in Large
Prentice-Hall, 1997. Urban Counties, 1992, Washington,

September 1997 7
D.C.: U.S. Department of Justice, Bu- 23. Klein, Alternative Sentencing, In- Rank the Severity of Prison versus
reau of Justice Statistics, 1995. termediate Sanctions, and Probation. Intermediate Sanctions.”
16. Boone, Harry N., and Betsy A. 24. Petersilia and Turner, “Intensive 29. Skolnick, Jerome, “Gangs and
Fulton, Results-Driven Management: Probation and Parole.” Crime Old as Time: But Drugs
Implementing Performance-Based Change Gang Culture,” Crime and
Measures in Community Corrections, 25. Gendreau, Paul, “The Principles of Delinquency in California, 1989, Sac-
Lexington, Kentucky: American Pro- Effective Intervention with Offend- ramento, California: California De-
bation and Parole Association, 1995. ers,” in Choosing Correctional Op- partment of Justice, Bureau of
tions That Work: Defining the Criminal Statistics, 1990.
17. Ibid. Demand and Evaluating the Supply,
ed. Alan Harland, Thousand Oaks, 30. Petersilia, Joan, “California’s
18. Griffin, Margaret, “Hunt County, California: Sage Publications, Inc., Prison Policy: Causes, Costs, and
Texas, Puts Performance-Based Mea- 1996. Consequences,” Prison Journal, 1992,
sures to Work,” Perspectives, 1996:9– 72(1):8–36.
11. 26. Bell, Griffin B., and William J.
Bennett, The State of Violent Crime in 31. Institute of Medicine, Committee
19. Tonry, Michael, and Mary Lynch, America, Washington, D.C.: Council for Substance Abuse Coverage Study,
“Intermediate Sanctions,” in Crime on Crime in America, 1996. “A Study of the Evolution, Effective-
and Justice: A Review of Research, ness, and Financing of Public and Pri-
vol. 20, ed. Michael Tonry, Chicago, 27. Crouch, Ben, “Is Incarceration Re- vate Drug Treatment Systems,” in
Illinois: University of Chicago Press, ally Worse? Analysis of Offenders’ Treating Drug Problems, vol. 1, ed.
1996. Preferences for Prisons over Proba- D.R. Gerstein and H.J. Harwood,
tion,” Justice Quarterly, 1993, 10:67– Washington, D.C.: National Academy
20. Petersilia, Joan, and Susan Turner, 88; Petersilia, Joan, and Elizabeth
“Intensive Probation and Parole,” in Press, 1990.
Piper Deschenes, “Perceptions of Pun-
Crime and Justice: A Review of Re- ishment: Inmates and Staff Rank the 32. Gerstein, Dean, R.A. Johnson, H.J.
search, vol. 17, ed. Michael Tonry, Severity of Prison versus Intermediate Harwood, D. Fountain, N. Suter, and
Chicago, Illinois: University of Chi- Sanctions,” Prison Journal, 1994, K. Malloy, Evaluating Recovery Ser-
cago Press, 1993. 74:306–328; Spelman, William, “The vices: The California Drug and Alco-
Severity of Intermediate Sanctions,” hol Treatment Assessment, Sacra-
21. Sigler, Robert, and David Lamb,
Journal of Research in Crime and De- mento, California: State of California,
“Community-Based Alternatives to
linquency, 1995, 32:107–135; and Department of Alcohol and Drug Pro-
Prison: How the Public and Court Per-
Wood, Peter B., and Harold G. grams, 1994. The researchers studied
sonnel View Them,” Federal Proba-
Grasmick, “Inmates Rank the Severity a sample of 1,900 treatment partici-
tion, 1994, 59(2):3–9.
of Ten Intermediate Sanctions Com- pants, followed them up for as long as
22. Petersilia, “A Crime Control Ra- pared to Prison,” Journal of the Okla- 2 years of treatment, and studied par-
tionale for Reinvesting in Community homa Criminal Justice Research ticipants from all four major treatment
Corrections.” Consortium, 1995, 2:30–42. modalities (therapeutic communities,
social models, outpatient drug-free,
28. Petersilia and Deschenes, “Percep- and methadone maintenance).
tions of Punishment: Inmates and Staff

8 National Institute of Justice Journal


S U R V E Y F I N D I N G S by Jean Johnson

This article updates and summarizes a presentation made at the first of three
discussion sessions entitled “Measuring What Matters,” held under the auspices
of the Policing Research Institute and sponsored jointly by the National Institute
of Justice (NIJ) and the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services. Each
session brought together about 40 police executives, leading researchers, commu-
nity leaders, journalists, and government officials to discuss the challenges of
assessing police performance.
Papers prepared for the sessions will be published in book-length form by NIJ.
A synopsis of the first session, “Measuring What Matters—Part One: Measures of
Crime, Fear, and Disorder” (NCJ 162205) can be obtained from the National
Criminal Justice Reference Service at 800–851–3420.
Surveys cited in this article were national in scope, except those conducted by the
Empire Foundation and Quinnipiac College (New York City focused). Unless
otherwise noted, they were random sample telephone surveys conducted in 1994
or later. Overall, the margin of error of survey findings was about plus or minus
3 percentage points (exceptions noted). This article relied extensively on data from
the Roper Center Public Opinion Location Library, operated by the Roper Center
for Public Opinion Research at the University of Connecticut. The library,
accessible through NEXIS, can provide full-question wording (see exhibits 1, 2, and
3 for some of the questions), complete responses, and, in most cases, demographic
breakdowns for the surveys cited in this article

here are a number of reasons to take a close look at public attitudes about crime and

T law enforcement. Perhaps foremost is that public safety is a preeminent responsibility

of government, involving expenditures by thousands of police agencies for the
salaries of hundreds of thousands of sworn and nonsworn personnel. For that reason alone,
policymakers seem obligated to take the public’s assessment of law enforcement perfor-
mance seriously.

Another reason to examine the public’s thinking about criminality and policing is that
Americans routinely make decisions that strengthen or hinder the country’s ability to fight
crime. When citizens choose not to report crimes or press charges or when jurors decide to
accept or discount police testimony for any reason other than merit, they profoundly affect
the quality of law enforcement and justice. The most obvious action citizens take to affect
crime occurs when they elect the governors, mayors, and legislators who shape crime-
related policy.

Presented below is an analysis of recent public opinion data on crime, the criminal justice
system, and the role and effectiveness of the police. In summarizing key findings, this article
notes where attitudes can vary sharply between African-Americans and whites. (Unfortu-
nately, most national surveys are not large enough to report with confidence on the views
of Hispanics or other minority groups.) September
September 1997
1997 9
An urgent issue even in worry about being a victim of crime percent cite drugs as a chief cause of
the best of times (Quinnipiac College, February 1997). crime; 22 percent, a lack of parental
responsibility or family breakdown;
Despite falling crime rates and re- Many observers have suggested that and 11 percent, economic problems
markably good news from some of the public fears about crime are driven by and lack of jobs. Other Americans
Nation’s large cities, crime remains an media coverage rather than by any real blame declining moral values, TV,
urgent issue for most Americans. knowledge of crime rates in their area. movies, or rap music (Los Angeles
Crime routinely appears at or near the And 65 percent of Americans them- Times, June 1995).
top of surveys asking Americans to selves say this is true: They get their
name the most information Only 6 percent consider flaws in the
important issues about crime criminal justice system or lax law en-
facing the coun- from the media forcement as actual causes of crime
Despite falling crime rates . . .
try. Eight in ten (Los Angeles (Los Angeles Times, June 1995), but
Americans say crime remains an urgent issue Times, January the public exhibits substantial interest
“reducing crime” for most Americans. Crime 1994). in remedies involving the police and
is a top priority courts. People seem to distinguish be-
routinely appears at or near the However, almost tween what they see as root causes of
for Congress,
6 in 10 say their crime and what they believe must be
with 57 percent top of surveys asking Americans
own community done in the near term—catching vio-
giving it the high- to name the most important has less crime lent criminals and incarcerating them
est possible prior-
issues facing the country. than the country for long periods of time.
ity rating (Hart
as a whole (Los
and Teeter Re-
Angeles Times,
search Compa-
nies, December 1996).
January 1994); 8 in 10 say they feel Approaches to
safe in their own community (Los An- reducing crime
The public’s concerns about crime geles Times, October 1995). Even in
seem to be somewhat independent of New York City, where 81 percent of People back a variety of approaches
the actual crime rate, a phenomenon residents say crime is a “big problem,” they view as effective ways to reduce
that may discourage law enforcement only 38 percent say crime is a “big crime—some designed to remove dan-
professionals but underscores just how problem” in their own community gerous criminals from their neighbor-
frightening this issue is for most (Quinnipiac College, February 1997). hoods, some to prevent youngsters
people. Deeply held public fears de- from falling into a life of crime, some
But people’s fears are nevertheless to express society’s outrage at those
veloped over decades may be slow to
real, and they may be intensified by who disdain its laws. Sixty-nine per-
dissipate even in the best of circum-
the conviction of many Americans that cent of Americans want to make own-
the crime problem is getting worse, ing handguns or assault weapons more
Public attitudes in New York City, not better—67 percent think that vio- difficult. Seventy-one percent want to
which has experienced dramatic and lent crime in the country is increasing make greater use of the death penalty
highly publicized decreases in violent (Louis Harris and Associates, May (Hart and Teeter Research Companies,
crime, provide a case in point. Polls 1997). Half of Americans think the December 1996).
show a remarkable jump in the New amount of crime in their own commu-
York Police Department’s approval nity will be worse in the year 2000 Public views on reducing crime do not
rating, which rose from 37 percent in (Yankelovich Partners for Time/CNN, fall neatly into either a liberal or con-
1992 to 73 percent in 1996 (Empire January 1997). servative political framework. People
Foundation, April 1996). Mayor consider “mandatory life sentences for
Rudolph Giuliani, former Commis- three-time felons” and “youth crime
sioner William Bratton, and current
Causes of crime: prevention programs” equally effec-
Commissioner Howard Safir have complex and tive as crime-fighting measures (Los
earned good marks for their efforts in multifaceted Angeles Times, April 1994). Asked
fighting crime (Quinnipiac College, about the best overall approach to re-
April 1996 and February 1997).1 Al- Americans identify a wide variety of ducing crime, 30 percent of surveyed
though half of New Yorkers say the social, economic, and moral conditions Americans want to emphasize punish-
city is now safer, 65 percent say they as the causes of crime. Twenty-three ment; 18 percent, the causes; and 51

10 National Institute of Justice Journal

percent, both (Hart and Teeter Re- caught or to receive the “slap on the of the accused and redressing wrongs
search Group, January 1995). wrist” of probation.3 Indeed, the Pub- done to victims and society. The vast
lic Agenda studies found that the most majority of Americans appears to be-
Research on incarceration and alterna- popular sentence for young offenders lieve that the balance between these
tive sentencing by Public Agenda, a is boot camp. Most Americans are two goals has tipped too far in favor of
nonpartisan research organization, for convinced that the young person who the accused.
the Edna McConnell Clark Foundation “gets away with it” is all the more
also strongly suggests that most likely to continue a life of crime. Eighty-six percent of Americans say
Americans believe in a mixture of the court system does too much to pro-
approaches.2 For youngsters in par- tect the rights of the accused and not
ticular, people want the preventive Justice not served enough to protect the rights of victims
approach—“stop them before they (ABC News, February 1994). Only 3
start, if you can.” But for most Ameri- Opinion research strongly suggests percent of Americans say the courts
cans, the worst possible lesson for that, for the public, the concept of jus- deal too harshly with criminals; 85
young offenders would be to not get tice includes both protecting the rights percent say they are not harsh enough
(National Opinion Research Center,
May 1994).
The police: public
“I am going to read you a list of institutions in American society. Would you tell confidence high but
me how much respect and confidence you, yourself, have in each one—a great racial differences
deal, quite a lot, some, or very little?”
Putting more police on the streets as
Percentage of general an effective way to fight crime is
public having a great broadly supported. Nine in ten Ameri-
deal or quite a lot of cans say that increasing the number of
Institution confidence in the institution police is a very (46 percent) or some-
what (44 percent) effective way to re-
Military 64 duce crime (ABC News, November
1994). And, given the general skepti-
Police 58 cism people feel about many institu-
Organized religion 57 tions and most of government,
Americans voice substantial confi-
Presidency 45
dence in law enforcement. Fifty-eight
Supreme Court 44 percent say they have a “great deal” or
Banks 43 “quite a lot” of confidence in the po-
lice; another 30 percent say they have
Medical system 41 “some” confidence in the police; only
Public schools 40 a handful (11 percent) express very
little or no confidence (The Gallup
Television news 33
Organization for CNN/USA Today,
Newspapers 30 April 1995).
Organized labor 26 In a 1995 Gallup survey, only one ma-
Congress 21 jor American institution rated higher
than the police: 64 percent of the pub-
Big business 21
lic have a great deal or quite a lot of
Criminal justice system 20 confidence in the military. The police
score about as well as “organized reli-
gion” (57 percent), and many
Source: The Gallup Organization, 1995.
groups—business corporations, Con-
gress, the news media—do much

September 1997 11
worse. The police also score signifi- people understood them at the time thought the verdict was “right” (CBS
cantly higher than the criminal justice was revealing. News/New York Times, May 1992).
system as a whole; only one in five Only 9 percent said they “sym-
Americans voices strong confidence in Surveys of public reaction to the pathize[d]” more with police than the
it (The Gallup Organization, 1995). Rodney King beating—undoubtedly beating victim (Yankelovich Clancy
(See exhibit 1.) shaped by repeated broadcast of a vid- Schulman for Time/CNN, April 1992.)
eotape of the incident—showed that
But confidence in law enforcement is the overwhelming majority of Ameri- Reactions to the tape-recorded com-
an area where African-Americans and cans did not like what they saw. Just 6 ments of Mark Fuhrman played during
white Americans differ dramatically. percent of Americans surveyed after the Simpson criminal trial show a
While 63 percent of whites say they the officers’ initial acquittal said they similar public recoil against an officer
have a great deal or quite a lot of con-
fidence in the police, only 26 percent
of African-Americans feel the same
way. Perhaps even more important, EXHIBIT 2. OPINIONS ABOUT POLICE BEHAVIOR
while only a handful of whites (8 per-
cent) say they have very little or no General
confidence in the police, 35 percent of Public Blacks Whites
blacks make this statement (The % % %
Gallup Organization, April 1995).
From what you know, is the kind
of improper behavior by police
Incidents that shape described on the Fuhrman tapes
perceptions (racism and falsification of evidence)
common among members of your
Much of the recent opinion research local police force, or not?1
on police bias and brutality has fo- Yes, common 20 53 15
cused on two widely publicized inci- No, not common 64 32 70
dents in the last several years: the trial Don’t know (volunteered) 16 16 15
of four Los Angeles police officers in
the beating of Rodney King and the For each of the following, please
role of now-retired Los Angeles detec- indicate how serious a threat it is
tive Mark Fuhrman in the murder trial today to Americans’ rights and
freedoms...Police overreaction to
of O.J. Simpson.
Public attitudes about these two inci- Very serious threat 27 43 24
dents suggest the basis for some of the Moderate threat 40 27 42
public’s thinking about what consti- Not much of a threat 32 28 32
tutes appropriate police behavior and Don’t know (volunteered) 2 1 2
the degree to which people believe
most officers act professionally most As far as you know, do the police
of the time. Surveys conducted during in your community mostly treat
blacks worse than whites, or both
periods of extensive press coverage
races about equally?3
and heightened public debate can, of
course, show levels of concern or an- Mostly blacks worse than whites 14 42 11
ger that recede in quieter times. Mark Mostly equally 74 47 76
Fuhrman, for example, has made Mixed (volunteered) 2 11 1
numerous media appearances in the Don’t know (volunteered) 10 0 12
wake of the civil judgment against
O.J. Simpson, and public attitudes 1
Newsweek/Princeton Survey Research Associates, August 1995. National survey
about him personally may shift some- of 758.
what with time. But the initial public
America’s Talking/Gallup, June 1994. National survey of 1,013.
CNN/USA Today/Gallup, September 1995. National survey of 1,011.
reaction to these two incidents as

12 National Institute of Justice Journal

who did not seem to fit commonly nity “mostly” treat the races equally seeing police officers out and about. In
held standards for appropriate police (The Gallup Organization for CNN/ contrast, a study by the Joint Center
behavior. At the time, 87 percent of USA Today, September 1995). for Political and Economic Studies
Americans, with blacks and whites Concern among African-Americans (April 1996) reports that 43 percent of
agreeing in roughly equal numbers, about their chances of being treated blacks consider “police brutality and
said they had an “unfavorable impres- fairly extends beyond law enforcement: harassment of African-Americans a
sion” of Fuhrman (The Gallup Organi- 61 percent of serious problem” in
zation, October 1995), although whites, com- their own commu-
Americans were split largely along pared to 19 per- nity.
racial lines about whether he actually cent of African- In a decade when many
planted evidence in the Simpson case Although blacks and
Americans, say Americans seem to think that whites disagree
(CBS News, September 1995). that racial and
“government” can do no right about the prevalence
other minorities
Regardless of differing perceptions of police bias and
receive equal . . . the police enjoy a robust
by blacks and whites about what brutality, neither
treatment in the vote of confidence from most of
Fuhrman actually did or did not do, group finds such be-
criminal justice
only 9 percent of either group said that the public. But support for law havior acceptable.
system (ABC
watching the Simpson trial gave them Both blacks and
News, February enforcement has a fault line.
more confidence that “police officers whites disapproved
perform their duties in a professional of the Rodney King
and ethical manner” (The Gallup Or- beating, at least as they saw it. Both
ganization for CNN/USA Today, Octo- groups were repulsed by the attitudes
Common standards,
ber 1995). and behavior initially associated with
different experiences Mark Fuhrman.
Interestingly, blacks and whites are in
The exception or substantial agreement about what con-
Americans of both races seem dubious
the rule? that police departments will act force-
stitutes appropriate police behavior.
fully to address problems of racism,
Nine in ten Americans—with no sig-
For many white Americans, these dishonesty, or brutality to the extent
nificant differences between blacks
kinds of incidents are mainly viewed that they exist in police ranks. Only 14
and whites—disapprove of an officer
as regrettable exceptions to the rule, a percent of white Americans and 15
striking a citizen who is being vulgar
belief not shared by a majority or near percent of black Americans think it is
and obscene. A roughly equal number
majority of surveyed blacks. As noted “very likely” that the controversy sur-
(92 percent) disapprove of an officer
in exhibit 2: rounding detective Fuhrman will lead
striking a murder suspect during ques-
to “significant improvement in the
• Only 15 percent of white Americans, tioning, with no significant differences
way police in this country treat
compared to 53 percent of blacks, between blacks and whites. Ninety-
blacks” (The Gallup Organization for
think that “the kind of improper be- three percent say a police officer
CNN/USA Today, October 1995).
havior by police described on the should be allowed to strike a citizen
Fuhrman tapes (racism and falsifica- who is attacking the officer with his
tion of evidence)” is common among fists, with blacks and whites again in A fault line in public
their local police (Princeton Survey agreement (General Social Survey,
Research Associates, August 1995). 1994). However, when the behavioral
setting is more problematic, important In a decade when many Americans
• Twenty-four percent of surveyed
differences emerge in the views of sur- seem to think that “government” can
whites, compared to 43 percent of
veyed blacks and whites (see exhibit 3). do no right, law enforcement is
blacks, said “police overreaction to
crime” is a very serious threat viewed as an essential public service
Judgments differ widely about what
(The Gallup Organization for and the police enjoy a robust vote of
actually happens in most communities
America’s Talking, June 1994). confidence from most of the public.
regarding police behavior. Middle-
• Seventy-six percent of surveyed class whites generally have only posi- But support for law enforcement has a
whites, compared to 47 percent of tive interactions with the police, and fault line. Opinion research surveys
blacks, say police in their commu- most experience a sense of relief at suggest that many black Americans

September 1997 13
BEHAVIOR president at Public Agenda, a
nonprofit, nonpartisan research
General group located in New York City.
Public Blacks Whites
% % %
Would you approve of a policeman 1. Quinnipiac College’s April 1996
striking a citizen who was attempting
poll included 741 respondents, with a
to escape from custody?
margin of error of +/- 3.6 percent.
Yes 75 57 78 The February 1997 poll included 845
No 21 36 18 respondents, with a margin of error of
Not sure (volunteered) 4 7 4 +/- 3.4 percent.
Are there any situations you can 2. Public Agenda has conducted three
imagine in which you would approve studies on public attitudes about in-
of a policeman striking an adult carceration and alternative sentencing
male citizen?
in Pennsylvania (1993), Delaware
Yes 71 45 76 (1991), and Alabama (1989). The
No 26 48 22 research was sponsored by the Edna
Not sure (volunteered) 3 7 3 McConnell Clark Foundation.

Both questions are from the National Opinion Research Center, General Social Survey, 3. Readers are referred to Joan
1994. National survey of 2,992. Petersilia’s article in this issue for
data showing that many probationers
are largely unsupervised. She notes
are disaffected and suspicious. They and protect the few incompetents that when given the choice between
are not confident that the police will among them. Focus groups erupt in incarceration and closely supervised
be fair. They are not confident that the anger when discussion turns to teacher probation, many offenders choose
police will be professional. They are tenure. The stories pour out about the incarceration because they view
not confident that the police will “pro- one bad teacher the school cannot closely supervised probation as too
tect and serve.” And while the per- seem to get rid of. Anger against the restrictive. In addition, in some com-
sonal encounters most whites have few infects attitudes about teachers munities “doing hard time” carries
with police officers may be positive, overall. status rather than stigma.
white Americans have witnessed
some graphic, highly publicized ex- Law enforcement may now be in a
amples of police behavior that, in similar position. Police departments
their view, is entirely unacceptable. that are seen as tolerating racist, brutal,
They may regard these incidents as or corrupt officers or police unions
exceptions but not ones to be glossed perceived as protecting them could
over as “the cost of doing business.” slowly and incrementally jeopardize
the overall strong support for law en-
Public Agenda has looked closely at forcement. It is fair to ask how long
public attitudes about teachers, an- police departments can tolerate wide-
other group of government workers spread lack of confidence among the
whom the public likes. Both teachers black community—an outlook that
and police officers are seen as perform- must daily undermine police effective-
ing an essential public service and are ness in fighting crime. Public confi-
generally regarded with respect. But dence in law enforcement is, for the
Public Agenda research also shows a country and for law enforcement itself,
rising frustration with teachers and a priceless asset, but it is neither inde-
their unions for seeming to tolerate structible nor a cause for complacency.

14 National Institute of Justice Journal


Once a case goes to court, an investi-
gator or expert witness must be pre-
pared to show that the paper trail from

A forged check, a ransom note, a

farewell letter printed at a uni-
versity computer lab, a threatening
document to author was constructed in
a manner that justifies its admissibility
as testimony and that enhances trust
S te p s letter, a diary of crimes, motel re- and acceptance by judge and jury.
ceipts, suicide notes on computer
disks—such documents create paper But how can one be certain about a
T o ward trails leading to suspects. The author- document’s origin? Is the document
ship of documents has played an impor- authentic or forged? This article out-
tant role in the investigation of such lines methods used to address those
a Science recent high-profile cases as the Una- questions and offers preliminary in-
bomber, the Oklahoma City bombing, sights into what approaches and tech-
o f A u th orship the World Trade Center bombing, and
the murder of JonBenet Ramsey. From
niques must be developed to keep
pace (or catch up) with authorship-
an investigative standpoint, tools elimi- related technology (e.g., computer
Identificati on nating or furnishing suspects on the disks) and with court-developed crite-
basis of authorship are invaluable ria affecting the admissibility of, and
(see “Investigative Uses of Language- weight given to, testimony pertaining
by Carole E. Chaski Based Author Identification”). to authorship identification.

September 1997 15
From eyewitness cally Rule 901, “Requirement of Au- handwriting identification by expert
to questioned thentication or Identification”). testimony.
document examiner But what if no such person is available Despite the U.S. Supreme Court’s
or willing to testify in that regard? 1923 ruling in Frye v. United States
Legal proceedings have long required
that scientific testimony should be
some kind of authentication of docu- In the early 19th century, another kind limited by its “general acceptance”
mentary evidence. Until the 19th cen- of document authentication came on within the scientific community,
tury, a document was typically the scene: comparison by an expert of questioned document examination
authenticated by an eyewitness to its the questioned document with known (QDE) was, in a sense, immune from
creation or signing (much as notaries writing samples. Through the 1800s such scrutiny since any lawyer seek-
do)—or by someone, such as a spouse, and into the early 1900s, most State ing to introduce it in court could ar-
other close relative, or banker, who courts allowed such expert testimony gue that it was directly admissible by
knew and recognized the writing. This on the basis of court decision or State statute. When the Federal Rules of
kind of document authentication is statute. In 1913, the United States Evidence (FRE) were enacted by
still admissible testimony under the Code permitted the admissibility of Congress in 1975, testimony based on
Federal Rules of Evidence (specifi-
“comparison by trier or expert wit-
ness”—that is, handwriting identifica-
tion by a questioned document
INVESTIGATIVE USES OF LANGUAGE-BASED examiner—continued to be admis-
AUTHOR IDENTIFICATION sible through Rule 901.

In 1993, 70 years after Frye, the U.S.

Even though language-based author identification has a long way to go before Supreme Court heard Daubert v.
achieving status as scientific testimony, it certainly can be used effectively now
Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
as an investigative tool.
(113 S. Ct. 2786), which resulted in
On April 29, 1992, Michael Hunter died of a lethal injection of lidocaine, major changes in the way that expert
Benadryl, and Vistaril. One of his two roommates, Joseph Mannino, reported the testimony is admitted as scientific
death. The other roommate, Gary Walston, was out of town. evidence. The Court ruled that testi-
A fourth-year medical student, Mannino was only weeks away from his medical mony, if it is to be considered “scien-
degree. He admitted giving antihistamines to Hunter for a migraine headache. tific,” must be demonstrated to have
After an autopsy report showed the presence of lidocaine, Mannino denied in- characteristics shared by established
jecting Hunter with the drug, which can induce central nervous system collapse. sciences, like biology or chemistry.
He declared that Hunter must have injected the drug himself. The Court listed some of those char-
Mannino produced computer disks containing suicide notes from Hunter. Detec- acteristics: empirical testing, known
tive W. Allison Blackman of the Raleigh, North Carolina, Police Department con- or potential rate of error, standard
tacted Dr. Carole E. Chaski about the possibility of determining the authorship of procedures for performing a tech-
the suicide notes on the basis of the language used. nique, peer review and publication, as
well as general acceptance in the sci-
Detective Blackman gathered almost 10,000 running words of documents spon-
taneously written by Hunter, Mannino, and Walston. Dr. Chaski’s analysis of the entific community.
syntax, vocabulary, and punctuation patterns of the documents, with statistical
Key criteria distinguishing scientific
testing, showed that the suicide notes were most likely not written by Hunter or by
Walston but by Mannino. Soon after, Mannino was charged with first-degree endeavors from others are stepwise
homicide. procedures, identifiable (or discrete)
units, measurement, replication, and
Through his attorney, Mannino admitted to writing the phony suicide notes. Due predictability. The laboratory experi-
to ambiguous test results concerning the level of lidocaine in Hunter’s blood,
ments conducted in high school em-
Mannino was convicted of the lesser charge of involuntary manslaughter. In the
body those characteristics. So does
sentencing phase of the trial, Judge Stephens said, “It’s terrible that Michael
Hunter died. It’s terrible that the defendant unlawfully caused his death. But to cooking:
give the impression that Michael Hunter took his own life, I find that extremely
• A recipe is a procedure with steps
aggravating in this case” (Raleigh News and Observer, July 28,1994).
Mannino was sentenced to 7 years in prison. that must be performed in a stated

16 National Institute of Justice Journal

• The ingredients in a recipe are sepa- testimony, prosecutors withdrew such agreed, is empirical evidence to sup-
rate, distinguishable items. testimony and relied on other means port the two central principles under-
• The ingredients or units are mea- of authenticating motel receipts, iden- lying handwriting identification:
sured using standard measuring de- tification cards, and other documen-
tary evidence. • Each person’s handwriting differs
from any other’s. Because this re-
• Anyone can repeat these procedures The choices quires a com-
using the standard measures and available appear parison between
standard tools. to be not present- documents from
• Anyone repeating the recipe in the ing handwriting When authorship of an elec- different people,
same way with the same units, mea- identification tronically produced document the difference
sures, and tools will get the same testimony at all, between indi-
is disputed, analysis of hand-
result. presenting viduals’ writing
In a Daubert hearing—one held to QDE as “techni- writing and typing does not apply. is called inter-
determine whether evidence can be cal” rather than . . .The language of a document, writer variation.
admitted as scientific—Professor scientific knowl- • Each person’s
edge, or building however, is independent of
Barry Scheck attacked questioned handwriting con-
document examination on the basis of a foundation for whether a document is hand- tains some varia-
its scientific foundation (United States handwriting tion. Because
identification written or printed or faxed or
v. Starzecpyzel, 1995). District Judge this requires a
McKenna agreed: “The Daubert hear- that meets stored electronically. comparison be-
ing established that forensic document Daubert criteria tween different
examination, which clothes itself with for scientific testimony. documents from the same person, the
the trappings of science, does not rest differences within one person’s
Thus, questioned document examina-
on carefully articulated postulates, handwriting samples are called
tion is facing a steep legal and intel-
does not employ rigorous methodol- intrawriter variation.
lectual challenge to create an authentic
ogy, and has not convincingly docu- The workshop reached a consensus
science of document authentication
mented the accuracy of its that proof of the foregoing principles
via handwriting.
determinations.” is the highest priority for research.
Judge McKenna ruled that handwrit- For handwriting identification to be
ing identification testimony could not Toward a science of
within the realm of the possible, a dis-
be considered scientific and so would authorship: handwriting tinct difference must be detectable be-
not fall under Daubert criteria for identification tween interwriter variation and
admitting scientific evidence. This intrawriter variation so that, even if
ruling, however, would still admit In July 1996, the National Institute of
Justice sponsored a workshop on devel- one’s handwriting changes from docu-
handwriting identification testimony ment to document, it is still identifi-
as long as it was perceived as “techni- oping a research agenda for questioned
document examination. The workshop ably different from another’s. Writing
cal or other specialized knowledge” samples from one individual may dif-
(as specified admissible by FRE Rule included questioned document examiners
working in local, State, and Federal law fer, but an individual writing pattern
702, “Testimony by Experts”) rather exists in all of them.
than as science. enforcement agencies; forensic linguists;
attorneys; and experts in voice identifi- If these principles are not proved true,
Judge McKenna’s ruling initiated a cation, computer engineering, neural the current approach of QDE should
series of judicial decisions from Federal, networks, neuroscience, and statistics. stop because testimony could be based
State, and military courts challenging on a false belief about the human be-
the admissibility of handwriting Workshop participants discussed this
question: What would be needed to ar- havior of writing and have very seri-
identification by expert comparison ous legal consequences. Thus, a prime
in various ways. For example, at the gue successfully in a Daubert hearing
that QDE testimony is accurate, reli- scientific challenge to QDE is to dem-
trial of Timothy McVeigh for the onstrate that its principles and methods
Oklahoma City bombing, after the able, and based on sound, empirically
tested principles? The fundamental re- meet or exceed the Daubert criteria
defense requested a Daubert hearing for scientific evidence, such as by tak-
on the proffered questioned document quirement, workshop participants
ing the following steps:

September 1997 17
• Create a database by collecting But it would not be sufficient just to ply a scientific method to solve a
samples from writers. have a standard protocol that everyone problem in handwriting identification.
• Determine how to measure the agrees on (which itself may be diffi- (See “Recent Developments in Hand-
samples. What characteristics cult to obtain). The standard protocol writing Identification.”)
should be measured (slant, height, must be tested to determine if it actu-
etc.)? Which units of measure ally works and the rate at which it
should be counted? What procedures works correctly. The development and From pen and pencil to
should be established for measuring testing of a standard protocol is essen- electronic texts
characteristics? tial to demonstrating that handwriting
identification is reliable. Reliability Meanwhile, what kind of authentica-
• Analyze statistically the results of tion is available if a document is not
means that using the protocol on the
quantifying handwriting samples. handwritten? Society is rapidly mov-
same set of documents at different
Replication would test the hypothesis times under different circumstances— ing beyond pen and pencil and pro-
that handwriting is individually iden- even by different people—will yield ducing more and more electronic
tifiable and validate the predictive the same results. documents. Documents composed on
ability of QDE to identify and differ- the computer, printed over networks,
entiate handwriting samples. Once a standard protocol for perform- faxed over telephone lines, or simply
ing handwriting identification is tested stored in electronic memory defy tra-
The next step would be to determine and shown reliable, it can be taught as ditional handwriting identification
how to apply these principles of part of training for QDE. techniques.
interwriter and intrawriter variation—
if proved true—to actual cases. Ap- At this point, yet another scientific When authorship of an electronically
plying scientific criteria (stepwise challenge to QDE arises: the question produced document is disputed, analy-
procedures, identifiable units, mea- of proficiency among examiners sis of handwriting and typing does not
surement, replication, and predictabil- trained to use the standard protocol. apply. In the case of networked print-
ity) would create a standard protocol Until a standard protocol is developed ers—to which thousands of potential
for performing QDE, much like exist- and practiced by questioned document users have access—even ink, paper,
ing protocols for conducting DNA examiners, proficiency tests may mea- and printer identification cannot nar-
analyses. sure luck, visual acuity, persistence, or row the range of suspects or produce a
an odd talent, but not the ability to ap- solitary identification. The language of
a document, however, is independent
of whether a document is handwritten
or printed or faxed or stored electroni-
In the past 20 years, techniques of lan-
Electronic approaches to verifying interwriter variation are under way. The Secret guage-based authorship identification
Service uses the German-based FISH computer program, which measures the have been developing within univer-
pixel positions of handwriting scanned into digital format. Funded by the Federal sity departments—classics, English,
Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Professor Kam of Drexel University and his students and applied linguistics—in Great Brit-
are developing another automated system for measuring pixels in digitized ain, Germany, Australia, and the
samples of handwriting from 400 bank robbery notes. United States. But if these methods of
The FBI has formed the Technical Working Group on Documents (TWGDOC). A language-based document authentica-
TWGDOC subcommittee has already begun work on documenting standard tion were offered as scientific evi-
procedures for questioned document examination. dence in a criminal trial, one would
expect a Daubert hearing to conclude
Proficiency testing of document examiners has been undertaken by Professor
in much the same way Judge
Kam. The most recent test revealed that trained document examiners and un-
trained laypersons with comparable educational backgrounds match handwriting McKenna ruled with regard to hand-
samples correctly at approximately the same level, with each group making cor- writing identification.1 Even without
rect matches 87 percent of the time. However, trained document examiners such a ruling, language-based author
made false positive matches 7 percent of the time, compared to 38 percent for identification needs to develop a
untrained laypersons. sound scientific method if it is to serve
justice and truth.

18 National Institute of Justice Journal

Foundation for indicative of a specific person? To message language conveys) is called
scientific linguistic answer, from a theoretical perspective, metalinguistic awareness.
identification one must consider language processing.
The possibility of metalinguistic
A good starting point for developing a Language processing. In normal lan- awareness raises the question of lin-
scientific method of linguistic identifi- guage processing, we communicate so guistic disguise. Suppose someone
cation is to ask whether a theoretical quickly that we can finish each other’s is so sensitive to language, so meta-
foundation for language-based author sentences. Typi- linguistically
identification exists within linguistic cally we do not aware, that such a
science. even remember the [P]ilot studies demonstrate person can over-
exact words we come the automati-
. . .that a syntactic method of zation of language
Theoretical foundations for language- used but do re-
based author identification derive member the gist analysis, which is grounded in processing and ac-
from various branches of linguistics. of a conversation tually change natu-
linguistic theory and imple-
The following concepts are well long after it has ral patterns to such
founded and uncontroversial among concluded. The mented within a computer a degree as to imi-
linguists: dialect and idiolect, lan- form (or syntax) is program, may be the route to an tate the idiolectal
guage processing, and metalinguistic disposable, while patterns of another
the message (or authentic science of language- speaker and sup-
semantics) is du- based author identification. press one’s own
Dialect and idiolect. Dialect is a rable. In normal idiolectal patterns.
variation within a language, while an language processing, the construction Research has already shown that
idiolect is an individual variation of the form is automatic or unconscious. adults vary in their metalinguistic
within a dialect. For instance, a Automatic or unconscious control of abilities.2 Therefore, until more is
speaker of the Southern American En- language enables us to do all we are known about metalinguistic awareness
glish dialect may say “John might doing while we are speaking (selecting in adults, the theoretical position
should check his parking meter,” and retrieving words, combining should be taken that linguistic disguise
while a speaker of Northern American words into phrases and larger units, is possible depending on the author’s
English dialect would say “Maybe attaching phrases to other phrases and particular level of metalinguistic
John should check his parking meter.” larger units) while we as communica- awareness.
tors focus consciously only on the
Because dialect is a group phenom- So, because the notion of individual
meaning of our message.
enon, one might predict that Southern- identity in language is credible, lan-
ers who use “might should” are a From the perspective of automatized guage-based author identification is
fairly homogeneous group. But this is processing, linguistic production (es- theoretically feasible. Because some
not necessarily so. One Southerner pecially syntactic structures) would kinds of linguistic production, espe-
may use “might should” in statements appear to be very difficult to control. cially syntactic processing, are uncon-
only, while another may produce The more automatic a behavior, the scious, detection of authorship through
“might should” in statements as well more reliably it indicates a personal reliable linguistic patterns is also fea-
as in questions such as “Should you identity. Fingerprints are reliable indi- sible. Because individual awareness of
might check the meter?” Even though cators of individuality because, nor- and sensitivity to language varies, an
Southerners can be identified by their mally, we do not control them. individual may be able to manipulate
Southern American English dialect, Likewise, syntactic structures may be linguistic patterns; thus, disguising au-
they can be individuated by their idio- so automatic as to be reliable indica- thorship is also theoretically possible.
syncratic uses of the dialect, that is, by tors of individuality.
Metalinguistic awareness. Although Basic steps toward a
The theoretical notions of language, unconscious control of language is science of linguistic
dialect, and idiolect suggest that indi- normal behavior, we can distance our-
vidual identity in language is feasible.
selves from language and make con-
But can we control and manipulate scious commentary about it. This Since language-based author identifi-
idiolectal features, or is language use ability to think consciously and talk cation seems theoretically feasible, a
unconscious enough to be reliably about language itself (rather than the scientific method that results in an

September 1997 19
identify idiolects, or individual lan-
THE WRITING SAMPLE DATABASE guage patterns. DNA typing provides
an interesting analogy. We share an
enormous amount of DNA; only a
The Writing Sample Database—a major component of the Automated Linguistic
minute fraction distinguishes us as
Authentication System—is designed to take into account general statistical sam-
pling issues and linguistic performance. Decisions about selecting the types of
individuals. So, analogous to DNA,
subjects for inclusion were based on a variety of factors, such as a subject’s avail- the bulk of linguistic patterns are
ability, the prominence of writing in the subject’s normal lifestyle, dialect similarity shared, and the minor quantitative
or dialect grouping, generally equivalent educational level, and representation of variation is where we need to look for
both genders and several ethnicities. Factors considered in selecting topics for idiolectal markers.
writing samples from the subjects included document type and similarity to actual
types of questioned documents. Writing tasks assigned to subjects included narra- There is no list of idiolectal markers
tive essays describing traumatic events and personal influences, business letters, available from linguistic theory. Thus,
personal letters, and threatening letters. we need standard operating procedures
Data were collected from two groups: criminal justice majors at a community col-
for how to determine idiolectal mark-
lege and business and nursing majors at a private 4-year college. Subjects wrote, ers in documents of varying size, type,
at their leisure, on 10 topics. and authorship.
At present, the Writing Sample Database includes samples from 98 persons, al- As with QDE, when evidence of the
most evenly divided between males and females, ranging in age from 18 to 49. idiolect and standard operating proce-
Almost three-quarters of subjects are white; the rest are black or multiracial. Be- dures are developed for performing
cause the writing samples were collected in a community college environment, language-based author identification,
writing is part of the subjects’ lifestyles, and the subjects generally share equiva-
proficiency testing of forensic lin-
lent educational levels and dialect backgrounds. The texts produced by the sub-
jects contain approximately 100,000 words. Some subjects contributed as few
guists can be designed and conducted
as 50 words while others produced several thousand. on a regular basis.

Progress in scientific
identification would require analytical patterns will be at least in part due to
the differing social context and com-
linguistic identification
approaches and technologies—some
taken directly from linguistic theory, municative goals of business letters An NIJ Visiting Fellowship provided
others to be developed for this appli- and diary entries. A person’s idiolect the opportunity for developing a com-
cation of the theory—enabling repeti- will vary depending on the document puter system—Automated Linguistic
tions of a stepwise procedure to yield type being produced. Further, since Authentication System (ALAS),
consistent results that could be tested this database is being constructed for which has two main components (see
statistically. forensic application, the document exhibit 1). The first is a database of
types should be similar to the docu- documents (see “The Writing Sample
Standard procedures for analyzing a ment types found in actual cases— Database”). The second embodies
document into syntactic structures— similar, rather than same, because one natural language parsing programs
noted above as difficult to manipulate would not request, for example, actual that “process” documents in the writ-
or disguise—are already available suicide notes or actual threatening let- ing sample database by assigning syn-
from theoretical linguistics. Having ters or actual ransom notes from hu- tactic labels to the words, phrases,
the analytical method at the ready man subjects. So the database should and larger units of each text, which
leads to the question, What sort of contain several writing samples from can then be quantified and used statis-
documents should be assembled on each writer, and these writing samples tically to categorize texts into author-
which to apply the standard analytical should be similar to document types ship clusters.
procedure? found in actual forensic cases.
Currently, ALAS is being used to
A database of documents should be Once the document database is as- analyze writing samples from a small
assembled with the principles of lin- sembled and each document is analyzed subset of subjects to search for
guistic performance in mind. If we into its syntactic structures, the next idiolectal markers—that is, syntactic
compare two different document types, step is to examine writing samples for structures or combinations of syntac-
say a business letter and a diary entry, idiolectal markers—those fragments tic features that can both discriminate
some differences in the linguistic of syntactic structures that serve to

20 National Institute of Justice Journal

between documents authored by dif- 016, and one sample of 240 words The second task was to find out
ferent writers and group together from subject 080. whether any linguistic features could
documents written by the same per- discriminate between different writers.
son. Texts of varying lengths were The first task was to discover whether For this purpose, three writing
examined to determine which markers any linguistic features were constant samples were compared from 016 with
are feasible to use depending on the through different samples of one the 240-word sample from subject
amount of text available, taking into subject’s writing so that such features 080. One linguistic feature exemplify-
account the special problem of very could be used to identify the subject’s ing a “differentiating ability” is the
short texts typical of forensic cases. writing. One linguistic feature exem- variant structures of prepositional
plifying an “identifying ability” is the phrases. The most frequent form of the
In a pilot study, ALAS parsed and number of combinations per sentence. prepositional phrase is a preposition
computed the syntactic distribution in The combinations tested here were followed by a noun phrase. Variant
writing samples from two subjects. both clauses per sentence and phrases forms of the prepositional phrase in-
These subjects, known as 016 and per sentence. On average, writer 016 clude a “stranded” preposition, as in
080, are both women, white, in their produced 5.4 clauses per sentence in “what are you up to?,” or prepositions
40s, with 2 to 3 years of college edu- text 1, 5.13 clauses per sentence in followed by verb phrases, as in “tired
cation and similar dialectal back- text 2, and 3.75 clauses per sentence of living a lie.”
grounds. Since these sociological in text 5—and 23.5 phrases per sen-
features may affect linguistic perfor- tence in text 1, 24.85 phrases per sen- When computing the ratio between the
mance, one would expect that the two tence in text 2, and 22.33 phrases most frequent form of the preposi-
women might be similar—perhaps per sentence in text 5. When the mea- tional phrase and the variant forms,
indistinguishable—linguistically. In- sures of these combinations for the one finds that writer 016’s ratios are
deed, in response to the first writing three writing samples are examined 18:1, 38:7, and 38:3 for her three
task, both discussed their fear of dy- statistically, one may conclude that samples. Writer 080’s ratio is 11:5 for
ing and leaving their children mother- the three texts were written by the her one sample. Statistically, the
less. ALAS analyzed three samples of same person. chance of these documents coming
343, 557, and 405 words from subject from the same source is 2 percent; put


Lexical Analysis Statistical Analysis of

Subject Info
Database Programs and Database Quantified Linguistic Features

▼ ▼

Writing Sample Syntactic Analysis

Database ▼ Programs and Database

▼ Discursive Analysis Phrase Structure

Programs and Database Database

Subject Info Database: stores Lexical Analysis Database: breaks text Syntactic Analysis Database: com-
sociological and dialectal informa- up into words, assigns Part-of-Speech bines Phrase Structures into sentences.
tion about each subject. (POS) labels, passes these to Syntactic
Phrase Structure Database: com-
Writing Sample Database: stores bines POS labels into Phrase Struc-
the texts written by each subject, Discursive Analysis Database: breaks tures, passes these to Syntactic
keyed to Subject Information. text up into sentences, assigns discourse Analysis, stores Phrase Structures.
function, passes sentences to Syntactic

September 1997 21
another way, the chance that these sizes actually found in kidnaping, ho- 71 (1995):2, 381–385; and Goutsos,
documents were written by different micide, and libel cases. Much more Dionysis, “Review Article: Forensic
authors is 98 percent, which, of work, however, is needed. Stylistics,” Forensic Linguistics,
course, is the case. 2(1995):1, 99–113). On the issue of
At this point, the essential conclusion replicability, Tiersma and Finegan
But an idiolectal marker must serve this and other pilot studies demon- report problems in previous methods,
both to identify and to differentiate. So strate is that a syntactic method of including lack of publication, lack of
a third task is to test whether any lin- analysis, which is grounded in linguis- peer review, and nonreplicated results
guistic features had both “identifying” tic theory and implemented within a (see Tiersma, Peter M., “Linguistic
and “differentiating” ability and so computer program, may be the route Issues in the Law,” Language,
could serve as idiolectal markers. to an authentic science of language- 69(1993): 1, 113–137; and Finegan,
based author identification. Edward, “Variation in Linguists’
For this purpose, measures of the fea-
Analyses of Author Identification,”
ture differentiating subject 080 from
American Speech, Winter 1990:334–
subject 016—ratio of types of preposi-
340.) Hardcastle was unable to rep-
tional phrases—were compared with Carole E. Chaski, Ph.D., is an
licate results using Morton’s
the measures of this same feature NIJ Visiting Fellow. After earning
CUSUM method (see Hardcastle,
within the writing samples of subject her doctorate in linguistics at
R.A., “Forensic Linguistics: An As-
016. The feature differentiated be- Brown University, she taught syn-
sessment of the CUSUM Method for
tween 016 and 080. Would it also tax and computational linguistics
the Determination of Authorship,”
have an identifying ability for 016? at the University of South Caro-
Journal of the Forensic Science Soci-
Statistical testing of the three samples lina and North Carolina State
ety, 33(1993):2, 95–106). At this
of subject 016 did not detect statisti- University. She has consulted for
point, language-based authorship
cally significant differences among the law enforcement agencies since
identification would fail a Daubert
three samples’ ratios of prepositional 1992.
phrase types. This suggests that the
samples were written by the same per- 2. Metalinguistic ability in adults is re-
son. Thus, the ratio of prepositional Notes lated to literacy level (Chaski, Carole
phrase types serves both to discrimi- E., and Randall Engle, Cognitive and
nate between the writing samples of 1. In technical report 95-IJ-CX-0012-
01, A Daubert-Inspired Assessment of Metalinguistic Characteristics of Adult
080 and 016, and to cluster together Illiterates, Technical Report, State of
the writing samples of 016. Currently Available Language-Based
Methods of Authorship Identification, South Carolina Commission on Higher
I show that previous methods of lan- Education, 1990; Chaski, C.E., “Seg-
An exciting finding of this pilot study
guage-based identification either vio- mental Manipulation and Metalinguistic
is that idiolectal markers were found
late well-established principles of Ability in Adult Literates and Pre-liter-
in writing samples that are well under
linguistic theory or do not flow from ates,” Linguistic Society of America
1,000 words in length. Because such
linguistics but from literary studies Annual Winter Meeting, Philadelphia,
small writing samples can be used for
and thus lack a scientific method. In Pennsylvania: 1991) and also to training
syntactic analysis, the method is fo-
their reviews, Crystal and Goutsos in disciplines related to language
rensically applicable—in contrast to
found similar problems with (Davis, Hayley, “Ordinary People’s
other techniques, which require much
McMenamin’s work (see Crystal, Philosophy: Comparing Lay and Pro-
longer texts. The pilot study indicates
David, “Review of Forensic Stylistics fessional Metalinguistic Knowledge,”
that language-based author identifica-
by Gerald R. McMenamin,” Language, Language Sciences, 19(1997):1, 33–46).
tion may be possible with samples in

22 National Institute of Justice Journal

Civil Protection Orders:
Victims’ Views on Effectiveness
Summary of a Research Study by Susan L. Keilitz, Courtenay Davis, Hillery S. Efkeman,
Carol Flango, and Paula L. Hannaford of the National Center for State Courts

Domestic violence has moved into the likely to report a greater number of provided in civil protection orders, the
spotlight in public debate in this coun- problems with violations of the protec- project selected for the study three
try, particularly with the 1994 passage tion order. The researchers noted that jurisdictions using disparate processes
of the Violence Against Women Act. criminal prosecution of these indi- and service models for providing pro-
After years of considering domestic viduals may be required to curb such tection orders: the Family Court in
violence a “family matter,” the crimi- behavior. Wilmington, Delaware; the County
nal justice, legal, and medical commu- Court in Denver, Colorado; and the
nities are now collaborating to protect The study confirmed previous re- District of Columbia Superior Court.
women and children from abusers. search showing a strong correlation
between the severity and duration of Two primary measures of effective-
Previous research has shown that the abuse—the longer women experience ness were applied. First was self-
effectiveness of civil protection orders abuse, the more intense the behavior is reported improvement in quality of
for victims of family violence depends likely to become and the more likely life after obtaining the order. Second
on how specific and comprehensive women are to be severely injured by were the extent and types of problems
the orders are and how well they are their abusers. These findings led re- related to the protection order reported
enforced. Recent National Institute of searchers to suggest: by the women, including repeated
Justice (NIJ)-sponsored research, physical or psychological abuse and
conducted by the National Center for • Safety planning is of paramount im- continued attempts by the abuser to
State Courts (NCSC) and involving portance at the earliest point of con- contact the women at work or home.
interviews with women who filed pro- tact with the victim.
tection orders, concluded that victims’ Four data sources were used in the
• The criminal record of the abuser study: telephone interviews conducted
views on the effectiveness of protec-
should be considered in fashioning with 285 women petitioners for pro-
tion orders vary with how accessible
the protection order. tection orders approximately 1 month
the courts are for victims and how
well established the links are between after they received a protection order
In addition, researchers called for fur-
public and private services and sup- (temporary or permanent), followup
ther research on the interactive aspects
port resources for victims. In addition, interviews with 177 of these same
of domestic violence, such as the:
violations of the protection order in- women 6 months later, the civil case
crease and reported effectiveness de- • Use of criminal history information records of these women, and criminal
creases as the criminal record of the in crafting orders and counseling history records of men named in the
abuser becomes more serious. victims. orders.

In the majority of cases, victims felt • Effects and enforcement of specific

that civil protection orders protected terms of protection orders. Key findings
them against repeated incidents of
physical and psychological abuse and • Actions of police and prosecutors. Victims. Before receiving a protection
were valuable in helping them regain order, study participants experienced
a sense of well-being. A protection abuse ranging from intimidation to
order alone, however, was not as Research design injury with a weapon. Researchers
likely to be effective against abusers found that 37 percent of the women
Initiated in 1994, after a wave of re- had been threatened or injured with a
with a history of violent offenses; form across the country had expanded
women in these cases were more weapon; more than half had been
the availability and scope of relief beaten or choked; and 99 percent had

September 1997 23

been intimidated through threats, continuing problems. In several areas, provided with user-friendly informa-
stalking, and harassment. More than however, the proportion reporting tion about available services as well as
40 percent experienced severe physi- problems rose between the two inter- information regarding protection or-
cal abuse at least every few months, views: calls from the abuser to the par- ders and their enforcement through the
and nearly one-quarter had suffered ticipant at home or work (16 percent contempt process. They suggested that
abusive behavior for more than 5 in the initial interview and 17 in the judges and police both make this a
years. followup), stalking the victim (4 per- priority when dealing with domestic
cent and 7 percent), repeated physical violence victims. In addition, a more
Abusers. Among men named in the
abuse (3 percent and 8 percent), and centralized court process and direct
protection orders filed by participants,
repeated psychological abuse (4 per- assistance to petitioners make it more
65 percent had an arrest history. Re-
cent and 13 percent). likely that victims will develop safety
searchers noted that many of these plans and seek services.
men appeared to be career criminals, Victim services. The study also
with more than half having four or looked at the use of services by par- In conclusion, the researchers noted
more arrests. Charges included violent ticipants before and after obtaining a that the Violence Against Women Act
crimes, drug- and alcohol-related protection order. These were grouped offers a pivotal opportunity through
crimes, and property, traffic, and mis- into eight categories: private legal ser- changes in current practice to increase
cellaneous offenses. Of the 129 abus- vices, medical assistance, police pro- awareness of and access to protection
ers with any history of violent crime, tection, assistance from government orders and to enhance enforcement
43 percent had 3 or more prior arrests services, counseling services, moral strategies. They also emphasized,
for violent crimes other than domestic support and guidance from friends or however, that civil protection orders
violence. relatives, support groups, and assis- are only one part of the fight against
tance from private community organi- domestic violence.
Effects of protection orders. The act
of applying for a civil protection order
was associated with helping partici- Overall, 78 percent of participants re- Susan L. Keilitz, Project Director;
pants to improve their sense of well- ported they had used at least one type Courtenay Davis; Hillery S.
being. In the initial interviews, 72 of service. Assistance from friends Efkeman; Carol Flango; and Paula
percent of participants reported that and relatives was most frequently L. Hannaford conducted this study
their lives had improved. During used, with 46 percent of participants at the National Center for State
followup interviews, the proportion seeking help from people they knew. Courts. This research was
reporting life improvement increased Next were private community ser- supported by NIJ grant number
to 85 percent, more than 90 percent vices, such as battered women’s shel- 93–IJ–CX–0035.
reported feeling better about them- ters and victim advocacy services
selves, and 80 percent felt safer. provided by universities and private Points of view in this document do not nec-
agencies (32 percent). essarily reflect the official position of the
Seventy-two percent of participants in U.S. Department of Justice.
the initial interviews and 65 percent in Researchers felt that more could be
the followup interviews reported no done to ensure that victims are FS 000191

24 National Institute of Justice Journal

The Challenge of Crime attendees assessed the reach of 10, 1997. Developed by a consortium
in a Free Society— change that has occurred since the of Federal agencies—including NIJ
report was issued. and the Office of National Drug Con-
30 years later
trol Policy (ONDCP)—BTC is a re-
Responding to the high level of public A publication based on symposium search demonstration project to test the
concern about crime in the 1960s, presentations is planned by NIJ. De- effectiveness of a systemwide criminal
President Lyndon B. Johnson ordered tails of its availability will be an- justice intervention with drug-addicted
the establishment of the President’s nounced in the NCJRS Catalog. offenders.
Commission on Law Enforcement and
Administration of Justice. The Com- The goal of BTC in Birmingham is to
Record attendance at provide drug testing, graduated sanc-
mission was to examine “every facet
of crime and law enforcement in annual research and tions, judicial supervision, and drug
America.” The results of that exami- evaluation conference treatment to each felony drug-using
nation were published in 1967 as The defendant regardless of charge and de-
Sponsored by NIJ and other compo- tention status. NIJ is responsible for
Challenge of Crime in a Free Society,
nents of the Office of Justice Pro- administering and evaluating BTC
a landmark report that called for a
grams, the annual conference on demonstration projects. The Birming-
“revolution in the way America thinks
criminal justice research and evalua- ham project is funded by a $1 million
about crime.”
tion (July 20–23, 1997) attracted grant from ONDCP through NIJ. The
The Commission’s work laid the foun- about 850 participants. They attended project is a collaboration between the
dation for the current Federal role in a wide range of presentations—some university’s Treatment Alternatives to
assisting State and local law enforce- tailored to researchers, others to prac- Street Crime (TASC) project, the
ment and justice administration. The titioners, and still others of interest to Jefferson County court system, the dis-
U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of both. Topics encompassed commu- trict attorney’s office, and the Jefferson
Justice Programs (OJP) evolved from nity policing, drug testing and drug County sheriff’s department.
predecessor organizations created as a treatment, juvenile and violent crime,
result of the Commission. violence against women, correctional ONDCP has committed $9 million in
programs, community restorative jus- fiscal year 1997 to fund an expansion
To commemorate publication of the tice, place-based crime prevention, of the BTC concept. Of that sum, $4
report, OJP and its components— DNA databases, and evaluation meth- million has been allocated for the ex-
including the National Institute of Jus- odology and issues, among other areas. pansion of additional adult sites. NIJ
tice (NIJ)—and the Office of Com- expects to fund a minimum of two ad-
munity Oriented Policing Services Addressing the conference, held in ditional sites and will continue to fund
sponsored a retrospective symposium Washington, D.C., were William rigorous evaluation.
held in Washington, D.C., in June Bratton, former New York City po-
1997. Attending the symposium, lice commissioner and now president NIJ also plans to hold a strategic plan-
whose theme was “Looking Back- of First Security Consulting, and Dr. ning meeting in mid-November 1997
ward, Looking Forward,” were promi- Alan Leshner, Director of the Na- to design a juvenile BTC project.
nent criminologists; professionals and tional Institute on Drug Abuse. Three million dollars has been allo-
practitioners from law enforcement, cated for creation of juvenile sites. NIJ
Next year’s conference will be held in expects to fund two juvenile sites and
the courts, and corrections; Federal
Washington, D.C., July 26–29. an evaluation.
and State officials; and members of
the Commission staff.

Participants examined changes in the Under way: Breaking Summer Institute for
nature of crime and the criminal jus- the cycle of drug use law enforcement
tice system, the use of research and and crime technology
statistics, and the societal response to
crime and the criminal justice system. NIJ Director Jeremy Travis partici- Nineteen law enforcement officers
Focusing on the results of the pated in launching Breaking the Cycle from 15 States participated in NIJ’s
Commission’s recommendations, (BTC) in a ceremony at the University first annual Summer Institute, held in
of Alabama at Birmingham on June Washington, D.C., August 18–22,

September 1997 25

1997, and hosted by NIJ’s Office of Violence” and “Crime, the Media, contingency planning, toxicology,
Science and Technology. The and Our Public Discourse.” Previous computer modeling, hazard prediction
Institute’s goal is to facilitate the shar- speakers were James Q. Wilson, Uni- analysis, standards for vulnerability
ing of technology information. Offic- versity of California; Peter Reuter, assessments, procedures for dealing
ers were briefed on NIJ’s efforts in University of Maryland; and Mark H. with chemical/biological attacks, and a
support of law enforcement, with par- Moore, Harvard University. unified command structure.
ticular focus on how participants can
The APTA group added the following
make technologies viable and effec-
topics: light, portable, and effective
tive in their own agencies. Upcoming land detection devices; closed-circuit tele-
In addition to NIJ program and tech-
transportation security vision; silent alarms; enhanced and
nology briefings, participants toured technology conference secure radio communications; en-
the Department of Justice; the Penta- crypted digital computer systems;
Scheduled for Atlanta, Georgia, in electronic information networks;
gon; the Alcohol, Tobacco and Fire- April 1998, an international land bomb-resistant garbage receptacles
arms Laboratory; the Federal Bureau transportation security technology and windows; access-control systems;
of Investigation (FBI) Crime Labora-
conference will feature presentations new facility and environmental de-
tory; the Drug Enforcement Adminis-
by experts in the field and exhibits of signs; and specialized personal protec-
tration Training Center; the FBI
new technologies. Cosponsored by tive equipment for first-responders.
Hostage Rescue Center in Quantico,
NIJ and the Department of Transpor-
Virginia; and the National Law En-
tation (DOT), in cooperation with the To assist the Department of Transpor-
forcement and Corrections Technol-
Department of State, the conference tation in synthesizing position papers
ogy Center in Rockville, Maryland.
will focus on counterterrorism tech- regarding technology needs, NIJ co-
Look for more details about the results
nology. Among the planned confer- sponsored a focus group in March
of the Summer Institute in a forthcom-
ence topics are terrorism vulnerability 1997. Participants were asked to
ing NIJ Journal.
assessments, multijurisdictional provide information about their
command structure, weapons detection counterterrorism technology and train-
technology, night vision equipment, ing needs. The upcoming Atlanta con-
Continuation of
analytical tools, information- ference is designed to build upon,
perspectives lecture technology sharing, and lessons synthesize, and disseminate the infor-
series learned from previous land transpor- mation obtained as the result of the
tation security incidents. foregoing efforts.
NIJ Director Jeremy Travis announced
the continuation of the Institute’s suc- The conference evolved from a 1996
cessful policy lecture series, “Perspec- meeting that Attorney General Janet Restorative justice
tives on Crime and Justice,” which Reno held with transportation offi-
will resume in December and run
regional symposiums
cials regarding terrorism-related con-
through May 1998. Nationally promi- cerns. Two subsequent international Among the most promising new ap-
nent scholars will address such issues conferences, organized by DOT and proaches to criminal justice are those
as gun markets and the U.S. approach the State Department, focused on focusing on victim and community
to substance abuse. A speaker sched- sharing counterterrorism technologies involvement in the system. Through
ule will appear in a forthcoming NIJ related to land-based transportation various programs and initiatives, the
Journal. targets. principles of restorative justice help to
repair the harm caused by crime and
Concluding the recent five-lecture se- NIJ, through its Office of Science and provide a more substantive role for
ries were Cathy Spatz Widom, State Technology, agreed to support DOT’s victims and the community.
University of New York at Albany, in efforts by gathering information from
April 1997, and Norval Morris, Uni- first-responders, while the American A series of regional symposiums is
versity of Chicago Law School, in Public Transit Association (APTA) being held between June 1997 and
May. Their topics were, respectively, obtained information from transit January 1998 to provide policymakers
“Child Victims: In Search of Opportu- law enforcement. Topics that first- and practitioners with the opportunity
nities for Breaking the Cycle of responders indicated as important to discuss restorative justice philoso-
included detection equipment, phy, practices, issues, and roadblocks

26 National Institute of Justice Journal


with national experts and regional rep- Invited States: Illinois, Indiana, Carolina, South Carolina, Tennes-
resentatives. The symposiums are Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan, Minne- see, Texas, and Virginia.
sponsored by NIJ, other components sota, Missouri, Ohio, West Vir-
of the Office of Justice Programs, and ginia, and Wisconsin. Because of limited space, attendance
the National Institute of Corrections. is determined by competitive applica-
• Southwest Region. October 26– tion process. Potential participants
The symposiums follow on the heels 28, 1997, in Santa Fe, New must form a five-person team repre-
of a national symposium held in Janu- Mexico. Invited States: Arizona, senting a jurisdiction that has some
ary 1996 in Washington, D.C. The California, Colorado, Hawaii, Kan- experience with restorative justice.
event proved so successful that many sas, Nevada, New Mexico, Okla- Each team should have a balance of
participants recommended that spon- homa, and Utah. juvenile and adult perspectives and
sors build on the momentum generated should draw from among the follow-
by the first symposium and hold re- • Northwest Region. December 11– ing: policymaker, prosecutor, defense
gional events. 13, 1997, in Portland, Oregon. In- bar, representative of victim and com-
vited States: Alaska, Idaho, munity organizations, law enforce-
The first regional symposium was held Nebraska, North Dakota, Montana, ment, courts, corrections, and system
for the Northeast region in Burlington, Oregon, South Dakota, Washing- research or administration.
Vermont, early this summer. Follow- ton, and Wyoming.
ing are the dates and regions for future For more information or to submit an
symposiums: • Southeast Region. January 1998, application for attendance, contact the
in Austin, Texas. Invited States: Institute for Law and Justice, 1018
• North Central Region. Sept. 28– Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Geor- Duke Street, Alexandria, VA 22314;
30, 1997, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. gia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North 703–684–5300.


The following articles, based on re- documented and substantiated through “Childhood Victimization and Subse-
search funded by NIJ, are available court records. quent Risk for Promiscuity, Prostitution,
from the National Criminal Justice and Teenage Pregnancy: A Prospective
Reference Service (NCJRS). For infor- “Accuracy of Adult Recollections of Study,” American Journal of Public
mation on ordering copies, call Childhood Victimization: Part 2. Health, 86(1996):11, by C.S. Widom
NCJRS at 800–851–3420. Childhood Sexual Abuse,” Psycho- and J.B. Kuhns, grant numbers 86–IJ–
logical Assessment, 9(1997):1, by C.S. CX–0033 and 89–IJ–CX–0007, ACCN
“Accuracy of Adult Recollections of Widom and S. Morris, grant numbers 166615. Among the findings of the
Childhood Victimization: Part 1. 86–IJ–CX–0033 and 89–IJ–CX–0007, study described in this article is that
Childhood Physical Abuse,” Psycho- ACCN 166614. The article discusses a early childhood abuse and/or neglect
logical Assessment, 8(1996):4, by C.S. study assessing the accuracy of recol- was a significant predictor of prostitu-
Widom and S. Morris, grant numbers lections of adults who were sexually tion for females but was not associated
86–IJ–CX–0033, 89–IJ–CX–0007, and physically abused or neglected as with increased risk for promiscuity or
and 93–IJ–CX–0031, accession num- children. Findings indicate gender dif- teenage pregnancy.
ber (ACCN) 166613. This article dis- ferences in self-reporting and accuracy
cusses a study assessing the accuracy and substantial underreporting by “Drug Policy and Community Context:
of recollections of adults who were sexually abused respondents in gen- The Case of Small Cities and Towns,”
physically abused as children. Retro- eral. Self-reported measures of child- Crime and Delinquency, 42(1996):2,
spective self-reports of early child- hood sexual abuse are significant by M.J. McDermott and J. Garofalo, grant
hood physical abuse were compared predictors of alcohol abuse, depression, number 91–DD–CX–K049, ACCN
with official cases of physical abuse and suicide attempts among women. 163484. This article reports the find-

September 1997 27

ings of a national assessment of drug police. Findings of a study indicate “Less-Than-Lethal Force Weaponry:
problems and antidrug initiatives in little correlation between citizens’ atti- Law Enforcement and Correctional
small jurisdictions. Findings indicate tudes toward police and their Agency Civil Law Liability for the
that school officials and community “coproductive behaviors” with police, Use of Excessive Force,” Creighton
leaders consider alcohol a top concern, especially to maintain order. Citizen Law Review, 28(1995):3, by N. Miller,
while law enforcement and govern- attitudes toward police performance in grant number 91–IJ–CX–K017,
ment officials give that distinction to drug law enforcement, however, do ACCN 161863. The author reviews
crack and other forms of cocaine. appear to affect whether they will pro- the legal principles applicable to of-
Marijuana use is seen as a problem in vide police (or community groups) ficer use of less-than-lethal (LTL)
most small jurisdictions. Community with drug-related information. force and makes recommendations to
leaders favor drug education and pre-
policymakers and agency heads on
vention measures over law enforce- “Moral Reconation Therapy and Prob-
limiting their exposure to liability
ment. lem Behavior in the Oklahoma De-
claims. The liability principles that
partment of Corrections,” Journal of
“Further Exploration of the Flight govern use of LTL force are similar to
the Oklahoma Criminal Justice Re-
From Discretion: The Role of Risk/ those that apply to the use of conven-
search Consortium, volume 2 (August
Need Instruments in Probation tional and deadly force. Recommenda-
1995), by D.R. MacKenzie and R.
Supervision Decisions,” Journal of tions for avoiding liability include
Brame, grant number 94–IJ–CX–
Criminal Justice, 24(1996):2, by A.L. adopting policies, providing training,
0064, ACCN 163402. The authors dis-
Schneider, L. Ervin, and Z. Snyder- and requiring incident reporting and
cuss an evaluation of Oklahoma’s use
Joy, ACCN 162937. This article dis- internal affairs reviews of excessive-
of moral reconation therapy (MRT), a
cusses the findings of a study of the force incidents.
treatment program designed to alter
implementation and role of risk/need offenders’ moral reasoning skills. “Published Findings From the Spouse
assessment instruments in probation Findings indicate that individuals who Assault Replication Program: A Critical
and parole decisions in Oklahoma. participated in MRT showed a moder- Review,” Journal of Quantitative
Findings indicate that corrections offi- ate but statistically significant drop in Criminology, 11(1995):1, by J. Garner,
cials have generally negative or neu- misconduct and recidivism. J. Fagan, and C. Maxwell, grant num-
tral attitudes toward quantitative risk/
ber 93–IJ–CX–0021, ACCN 153919.
need instruments but, paradoxically, “Inmates’ Attitude Change During
This article reviews the published
found it difficult to envision a proba- Incarceration: A Comparison of Boot
findings of the spouse assault replica-
tion system without them. A small ma- Camp With Traditional Prison,” Jus-
tion program (SARP), which ad-
jority believe the probation system is tice Quarterly, 12(1995):2, by D.L.
dressed whether arrest effectively
better off with the instruments than MacKenzie and C. Souryal, grant
deters misdemeanor spouse assault.
with discretionary decisions. number 90–DD–CX–0061, ACCN
Findings indicate that while many
158211. This article reports the find-
“Citizen Involvement in the methodological approaches used to
ings of a study on the impact of a
Coproduction of Police Outputs,” assess experiments in six jurisdictions
military-type regime on inmates’ atti-
Journal of Crime and Justice, were sound, not one was used consis-
tudes in six State-level shock incar-
19(1996):2, by J. Frank, S.G. Brandl, tently. The authors conclude that
ceration programs. Findings suggest
R.E. Worden, and T.S. Bynum, grant available information is inadequate to
that boot camp inmates develop more
number 89–DD–CX–0049, ACCN support a definitive statement about
positive and less oppositional and
163880. This article examines how the results of the experiments.
antisocial attitudes than inmates in
citizens’ attitudes toward the police traditional settings.
affect their willingness to help the

28 National Institute of Justice Journal

The following recent publications dis- national organizations are serving Child Sexual Molestation: Research
seminated by NIJ are available from many high-risk juveniles. To the ex- Issues, Research Report, by Robert A.
NCJRS in both online and hard-copy tent that the local affiliates are them- Prentky, Raymond A. Knight, and
formats. For ordering information, selves imperiled by crime and Austin F.S. Lee, U.S. Department of
call NCJRS at 800–851–3420. violence, they are likely to enlist po- Justice, National Institute of Justice,
lice assistance in implementing pre- June 1997, 24 pp., NCJ 163390.
Annual Report to Congress 1996, U.S. vention programs. Findings indicate
Department of Justice, National Insti- that young people prefer programs that The information included in this publi-
tute of Justice, August 1997, 104 pp., provide a range of choices—sports cation has been distilled from several
NCJ 166585. and recreation activities and those that interrelated reports and studies spon-
bolster educational and social skills, sored by NIJ to strengthen the efficacy
NIJ offers the tools of research, evalu- of intervention and prevention strate-
offer help in coping with peer pres-
ation, and technology development to gies and ultimately reduce child sexual
sure, and provide instruction in com-
expand knowledge and understanding victimization rates.
puter and technical subjects.
of how public policies can control
crime and achieve justice. This report A 60-minute VHS videotape (NCJ The publication discusses the fre-
reviews how NIJ applied those tools 163057), “Youth Afterschool Pro- quency of child sexual molestation
and its $99 million in total expendi- grams and the Role of Law Enforce- and factors leading to sexual deviancy
tures in 1996, a year in which the ment,” is also available. in individual offenders, describes
Institute’s research portfolio increased classification models for typing and
multifold, spurred in large part by cre- Crack’s Decline: Some Surprises diagnosing child molesters, notes
ative collaborations with partners at Across U.S. Cities, Research in Brief, treatment approaches and strategies
the Federal, State, and local levels. by Andrew Lang Golub and Bruce D. for community-based maintenance and
Johnson, U.S. Department of Justice, control, addresses reoffense risk as it
After reviewing the year’s highlights, National Institute of Justice, July relates to criminal justice decisions,
the report presents essays that focus 1997, 16 pp., NCJ 165707. and discusses predictors of sexual re-
on NIJ research and development cidivism. To illustrate the variability
projects pertaining to the underlying Research shows that drug epidemics, of recidivism among child molesters,
issues of violence, criminal justice like their epidemiological counter- the authors present findings of a 25-
responses to drugs and crime, commu- parts, follow a natural course, from year followup study of 115 released
nity crime control and prevention, incubation to decline. For 10 years, offenders.
trends and emerging concepts in adju- NIJ has been gathering information on
dication and corrections, and science the course of illicit drug use through Reorienting Crime Prevention Re-
and technology. its Drug Use Forecasting (DUF) pro- search and Policy: From the Causes
gram. This publication examines the of Criminality to the Context of Crime,
Youth Afterschool Programs and Law progress of the crack cocaine drug epi- Research Report, by David Weisburd,
Enforcement, Research Preview, sum- demic at 24 DUF locations from as U.S. Department of Justice, National
mary of a presentation by Marcia early as 1987 through 1996. Institute of Justice, June 1997, 28 pp.,
Chaiken, U.S. Department of Justice, NCJ 165041.
National Institute of Justice, August DUF data show that crack use has fol-
1997, 4 pp., FS 000169. lowed a distinct four-phase pattern: Crime prevention research and policy
incubation, expansion, plateau, and have traditionally been concerned with
This publication is based on a presen- decline. Pinpointing crack’s current offenders or potential offenders. This
tation describing the results of a sur- phase in a locality helps criminal jus- publication focuses not on criminals
vey of youth-serving organizations to tice and health officials to develop but on the context in which crime oc-
identify the nature of the crime prob- better strategies and deploy resources curs. This approach—often associated
lem affecting them during nonschool more effectively. The authors state with situational crime prevention—
hours and the approaches they are us- that crack use appears to be in the de- seeks to develop a greater understand-
ing to prevent crime. cline phase in DUF cities on the east ing of crime and prevention strategies
and west coasts; at some DUF sites in through studying the physical, organi-
Jointly sponsored by NIJ and the
the interior regions of the country, the zational, and social environments that
Carnegie Corporation of New York,
drug is at the plateau stage. make crime possible.
the survey found that local affiliates of

September 1997 29

The author reviews factors that have The authors also discuss findings per- reduce disorder, improve safety, and
either hindered or contributed to the taining to the methods of, and reasons enhance the quality of life in a variety
development of a situational approach for, acquiring firearms; storage of fire- of settings. The publication empha-
to crime prevention research and arms; and the frequency with which sizes the need for ongoing monitoring
policy, compares the relative strengths guns are used against criminal attackers. and evaluation of the place-specific
of this approach with more traditional strategies selected.
approaches to crime prevention, and Solving Crime Problems in Residen-
identifies areas where situational tial Neighborhoods: Comprehensive Preventing Crime: What Works, What
crime prevention has generated new Changes in Design, Management, and Doesn’t, What’s Promising, Research
insights into the crime problem and Use, Issues and Practices, by Judith D. Report, by the University of Mary-
potential responses to it. Feins, Joel C. Epstein, and Rebecca land, Department of Criminology and
Widom, U.S. Department of Justice, Criminal Justice, for the U.S. Depart-
Guns in America: National Survey on National Institute of Justice, April ment of Justice, Office of Justice Pro-
Private Ownership and Use of Fire- 1997, 116 pp., NCJ 164488. grams, February 1997, 536 pp., NCJ
arms, Research in Brief, by Philip J. 165366.
Cook and Jens Ludwig, U.S. Depart- This publication discusses place-
ment of Justice, National Institute of specific crime prevention in urban and This state-of-the science publication
Justice, May 1997, 12 pp., NCJ suburban neighborhoods. Place- responds to the latest in the long line
165476. specific crime prevention builds on of congressional initiatives to ensure
crime prevention through environmen- that its local assistance funding is ef-
Survey findings indicate that, in 1994, tal design and draws on results of re- fective in preventing crime. The au-
44 million Americans owned 192 mil- search on active crime prevention thors report on what is known—and
lion firearms, of which 65 million tactics (such as community policing) what is not—about the effectiveness
were handguns. About 74 percent of to emphasize modification of design, of local crime prevention programs
gun owners possessed two or more use, and management of a specific and practices.
firearms. Gun ownership was highest place to prevent and reduce crime.
among middle-aged, college-educated Chapters focus on communities and
people living in rural small-town The authors stress that selection of crime prevention, family-based crime
America. Whites were substantially place-specific crime prevention strate- prevention, school-based crime pre-
more likely to own guns than African- gies and tactics should be made in vention, labor markets and crime risk
Americans. Survey results indicate close collaboration with the commu- factors, crime prevention in specific
that the proportion of American nity. Physical design changes and places, the role of police in crime pre-
households that keeps firearms appears management changes can be com- vention, and the role of the rest of the
to be declining. bined to combat criminal activity, criminal justice system.

Three NIJ publications—Research in received the award; name of principal more than half of the Institute’s spend-
Brief titles issued in July 1997— investigator(s); award amount; and a ing for fiscal year 1996. Of the two
summarize awards made by the brief description of the award. publications listing those awards, one
Institute in fiscal year 1996. The publi- focuses on science and technology
cations provide the following informa- Awards made under the Crime Act awards: NIJ Science and Technology
tion for each award: identification (Violent Crime Control and Law En- Awards Under the Crime Act: Fiscal
number of the grant, contract, or other forcement Act of 1994) represented Year 1996 (NCJ 165586); the second
award; project title; name of entity that more than half of all NIJ awards and presents all other awards under the

30 National Institute of Justice Journal


Crime Act: NIJ Awards Under the rizes them as follows: criminal behav- For information about ordering copies
Crime Act: Fiscal Year 1996 ior, crime control and prevention, of the foregoing publications or ac-
(NCJ 165700). criminal justice system, technology cessing them online, please call the
research and development, and infor- National Criminal Justice Reference
NIJ Awards in Fiscal Year 1996 mation dissemination and technical Service at 800–851–3420.
(NCJ 165701) lists all non-Crime support.
Act awards for 1996 and catego-

The following final reports—in manu- 94–IJ–CX–0004. This report de- or have characteristics that would pro-
script form as submitted by authors— scribes the genesis, activities, and na- hibit them from benefiting from it.
pertain to completed NIJ-sponsored ture of a community prosecution The report indicates that JISP could do
research projects. The reports are experiment in the Multnomah County more to meet the standards of R&R
available from NCJRS through inter- (Portland, Oregon) district attorney’s program developers and to prepare for
library loan and as photocopies. For office. Community prosecution is an program delivery.
information about applicable fees, call organizational response to grassroots
NCJRS at 800–851–3420. public safety demands of neighbor- “Prosecutor and Criminal Court Use
hoods. Portland’s experiment focuses of Juvenile Court Records: A National
“Divorce Mediation and Domestic predominantly on quality-of-life and Study,” by N. Miller and T. McEwen,
Violence,” by J. Pearson, NCJ low-level disorder crimes. Other pros- NCJ 165184, 1996, 105 pp., grant
164658, 1997, 234 pp., grant number ecutors’ offices are devising surpris- number 93–IJ–CX–0020. This report
93–NIJ–CX–0036. The divorce me- ingly similar organizational responses examines how prosecutors and judges
diation and spousal violence project to deal with serious violent crime. use juvenile records of defendants
used several information collection charged with violent crimes in court.
procedures to examine how divorce “Evaluation of the Reasoning and Re- One indicator of a violent repeat
mediation programs address the prob- habilitation Cognitive Skills Develop- criminal is the offender’s juvenile
lem of domestic violence. Findings ment Program as Implemented in record, and the use of this identifier
revealed that domestic violence is a Juvenile ISP in Colorado,” by K. can lead to both priority prosecution
frequent problem in divorce mediation English, NCJ 165183, 1996, grant and increased court sanctioning. This
and that most of the surveyed media- number 93–IJ–CX–K017. This report study was conducted in two phases by
tion programs have revised their pro- presents findings from the Division of the Institute for Law and Justice (ILJ).
cedures to enhance victim safety Criminal Justice’s evaluation of the In phase I, ILJ reviewed the legal and
during and after mediation. The report reasoning and rehabilitation (R&R) programmatic status of adult courts’
states that domestic violence victims cognitive skills development program juvenile record use in the 50 States. In
need a variety of community services as it is delivered to juveniles placed phase II, ILJ examined use of juvenile
and dispute resolution forums. on juvenile intensive supervision pro- records by court decisionmakers in
bation (JISP) in Colorado. The R&R Wichita, Kansas, and Montgomery
“How Portland Does It: Community program is mandatory for all JISP cli- County, Maryland.
Prosecution,” by B. Boland, NCJ ents unless they are deemed by the
165182, 1996, 21 pp., grant number probation officer to be too disruptive

September 1997 31
Visiting Fellowship Graduate research CMRC’s Visiting Fellowship Program
Program fellowship offers research opportunities to indi-
viduals interested in criminal justice
NIJ’s Visiting Fellowship Program NIJ’s Graduate Research Fellowship applications of mapping.
supports research and development on Program provides dissertation research
high-priority topics that enhance the support to outstanding doctoral stu- Award periods range from 3 to 18
capabilities of the criminal justice sys- dents undertaking independent re- months, during which Fellows are in
tem to combat crime, violence, and search on issues in the criminal justice residence at NIJ. Applications may be
substance abuse. Visiting Fellows, field. Students from any discipline submitted at any time. Applicants
while in residence for 6 to 18 months, may apply. Research must focus on a should anticipate a period of 3 to 9
study topics of mutual interest to Fel- topic relevant to national criminal jus- months between proposal receipt and
lows and the Institute. tice policy or related to concerns of award decision. For more information,
operating criminal justice agencies. call NCJRS at 800–851–3420 and ask
NIJ seeks research-oriented practitio- for brochure NCJ 166375.
ners at the middle and upper levels of Fellowship awards of as much as
the justice profession as well as per- $35,000 are for periods of up to 24
sons with extensive experience in months. Application deadlines are Investigator-initiated
criminal justice research. Concept pa- January 15 and May 15, 1998. For ap- research
pers may be submitted at any time. plication information, call NCJRS at
Applicants should anticipate a deci- 800–851–3420 and ask for brochure NIJ continues to seek proposals for
sion timeframe of 6 to 9 months from NCJ 166367. investigator-initiated criminal justice
receipt of concept paper to award. For research. Investigators are invited to
application procedures, selection crite- submit proposals to explore any topic
ria, eligibility requirements, and other Crime mapping relevant to State or local criminal jus-
information, call NCJRS at 800–851– fellowship tice policy. The deadline for receipt of
3420 and ask for brochure NCJ proposals is December 16, 1997. Call
165588. Through its Crime Mapping Research NCJRS at 800–851–3420 to receive a
Center (CMRC), NIJ is supporting copy of the Solicitation for Investiga-
research and development pertaining tor-Initiated Research (SL 000201).
to computerized crime mapping.


Crime and justice sentencing, and other topics. In the To order volume 22, contact The Uni-
preface, editor Michael Tonry pays versity of Chicago Press, Journals Di-
Volume 22, the most recent book in special tribute to those at NIJ who vision, P.O. Box 37005, Chicago, IL
the NIJ-sponsored, 20-year Crime and created and nourished the series 60637; 773–753–3347.
Justice series, reviews research on throughout the years.
hate crimes, homicide, probation,

32 National Institute of Justice Journal

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810 Seventh Street N.W.
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Janet Reno
Attorney General
U.S. Department of Justice

John C. Dwyer
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Laurie Robinson
Assistant Attorney General

Jeremy Travis
Director, National Institute of Justice

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