Identifications Empirical Question Asking an Term Paper

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57. The Deterrent Effects of Arrest for Domestic Assault (Lawrence W. Sherman and Richard A. Berk)

Domestic violence

Types of data/methods: Sherman and Berk found that arresting batterers reduced by half the rate of subsequent offenses against the same victim within a 6-month followup period. However, in follow-up studies, sometimes offenders assigned to the arrest group had higher levels of (recidivism) while others showed a reduction in repeat cases.

Advantages/Disadvantages: Although the repeat nature of the offenses in a series of trials shows thoroughness, the inconsistent findings about whether mandatory arrest reduces domestic violence suggests more information about the different cases might be necessary to show if arrest helps in some cases but not in others.


Summarize the overall prevalence and incidence of the crime problem in the 1960s as portrayed by the President's Commission on Law Enforcement and Administration of Justice (pg.361) and by the National Commission on the Causes and Prevention of Violence (pg.37). Likewise, summarize the present state of affairs (draw from websites in Lessons One and Two for comparative data). Compare the two eras and analyze the differences.

President's Commission on Law Enforcement and Administration of Justice (Jacoby, 2004, p.361) presented a picture of law enforcement that was fundamentally ineffective, in terms of the way it treated the problem of criminality. It presented a vision of the justice system with a high recidivism rate, and a hostile state of affairs between police and the public. Along with the National Commission on the Causes and Prevention of Violence (Jacoby, 2004, p.37) it was inclined to see crime as a cultural and social problem, spawned by the problems of poverty, inequality, and racial justice. The National Commission on the Causes and Prevention of Violence also targeted the media, such as the negative influence of violence on television as a potential cause of the crime rate.

The website for the Bureau of Justice, which provides national statistics on crime suggests that violent crime has actually declined in America since 1994. ( Other crimes such as drug use amongst college students have varied, as rates of past year cocaine use by college students have varied over the past 10 years from a low of 2.0% in 1994 to a high of 5.4% in 2003. Past year marijuana use has ranged from a low of 27.9% in 1993 to a high of 35.9% in 1998. (

On one hand, the decline in violent crimes shows that at least some of the poverty reduction programs and efforts to improve the recidivism rate highlighted by the 1967 commission have proved successful. Drug use also seems to be holding steady. However, while overall the picture provided by the comparative statistics is hopeful, it must be remembered that there are aspects of these crimes that are not always captured by currently available statistics. For example, in terms of drug use, students may simply be experimenting with new forms of drugs, like illegal prescription drugs, rather than the old standbys of cocaine and marijuana. These drugs are less likely to be disseminated through organized trafficking networks, as opposed to hard street drugs, and may thus be more difficult to detect and eradicate in terms of patterns of sale and use.

The Bureau of Justice website also indicates that urban residents are also still more likely to be the victims of violent crimes and urban households are the most likely houses to be the victims of property crimes, showing that many of the social problems of the 1960s still continue to affect the nation's cities, despite social efforts to ameliorate these problems. ( Additionally, if one accepts the initial study about the effects of violent media, the exposure to the media of children and teens today has grown exponentially, given the proliferation of the Internet as a source of entertainment, video games, as well as cable television.

Police, in comparison to the 1960s, may have become more demographically representative of the communities they oversee, and the social problems that give rise to crime are now treated with a variety of programs indented to reeducate as well as punish offenders. Community policing rather than community punishment has become the watchword of the day. Opportunities for once at-risk crime populations, such as discriminated-against minority, may have expanded within American society, providing an escape from crime-ridden environments. However, the worst sections of American cities still remain unsafe and plagued by a host of social problems, and problems posed by future potential social dysfunctions cannot be ignored.

Works Cited

Crime Statistics." (2006) Bureau of Justice. Retrieved 11 Jun 2006 at

Jacoby, Joseph E. (2004) Classics of Criminology. New York: Waveland Press.[continue]

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