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Justice Policy Journal — Volume 11, Number 2 — Fall 2014

(ISSN 1530-3012)


From the Editors

Welcome to the Fall 2014 issue of the Justice Policy Journal. This issue begins with a study of an electronic monitoring program and its impact on recidivism. We also have a study of the always controversial sex offender registration laws and their collateral consequences. We have an evaluation of a unique prison arts program. Also, we have another in a series of articles on veterans in the criminal justice system. Finally, we have another on the always controversial topic of gun ownership.

First we have a study by Avdija and Lee on an electronic monitoring program in Indiana. This study looked at an Electronic Monitoring Home Detention (EMHD) program in Indiana on post-program recidivism status of those who have participated in the program. They aimed to determine those factors best predict program recidivism rates. The study compared two groups of offenders: those who successfully completed the program and those who dropped out of the program without completing it. A total of 293 subjects participate and the age range was from 18 to 71, with an average age of was 34. Based upon their analysis of the data they found that this program did not reduce recidivism. The study did find that older and more educated offenders proved to be the most successful.

Second is a study by Frenzel et al. examined the consequences of registered sex offender laws (RSO) in Pennsylvania, Texas, and Wisconsin. They found that these laws had numerous collateral consequences, similar to the consequences found in previous studies. Among these consequences included difficulties keeping finding and maintaining a job, daily harassment they and their families faced from neighbors, their children being ridiculed, among others. One unique aspect of this study is that it was based upon in-depth interviews with a sample of offenders who described in detail these consequences.

Third, we have Larry Brewster’s evaluation of three demonstration projects modeled after the Arts in Corrections program within the California prison system. The study measured changes among the inmates who participated in theater, visual arts, poetry and writing courses offered in four California state prisons. Specifically, the study included the Actors' Gang Prison Project at the California Rehabilitation Center (CRC), Norco, the Marin Shakespeare theater program at San Quentin state prison; a visual arts class at the Correctional Training Facility in Soledad, a poetry class at San Quentin, plus a writing course at New Folsom State Prison. The study found a strong correlation between arts education and self-confidence, motivation to pursue other educational and vocational programs, and self-discipline to manage time more efficiently and effectively. The study also found a reduction in disciplinary reports and greater participation in academic and vocation programs among the participants.

Fourth, Jesse Barton, as defense attorney specializing in veterans cases, compassionately reviews the growing problem of veterans appearing in the criminal justice system – especially those returning from the recent conflicts in the Middle East. In particular, he discusses his involvement in a series of bills passed by the Oregon Legislature from 2009 to 2013, in addition to several amendments to the Oregon State Bar’s “Specific Standards for Representation in Criminal and Juvenile Delinquency Cases.” These were designed to serve the needs of veterans, service members, and their families. A unique aspect of his essay was is the discussion of the case of Fred Derry (a character show in the classic WWII movie The Best Years of Our Lives), the case of Louie Zamperini (illustrated in the true story Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption, written by Laura Hillenbrand) and how these case compare with the recent real life case of Robert Helmick.

Finally, we have an article by Lacey N. Wallace discusses legislation known as the “Castle Doctrine.” These laws are intended to provide citizens protection from liability as well as criminal prosecution when they use a gun to protect themselves or their home. Exploring the consequences of such legislation, Wallace notes that spanning the decade 2000-2010 this legislation is associated with a significant increase in the number of Federal background checks. This is a timely piece in that it puts the 2012 case of the killing of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman and the 2013 case of the killing of 19-year-old Renisha McBride by Theodore Wafer (who, unlike Zimmerman, was convicted of second-degree murder).

We hope you enjoy this issue of the journal.

Randall Shelden and Elizabeth Brown
Co-Editors


Does Electronic Monitoring Home Detention Program Work? Evaluating Program Suitability Based on Offenders’ Post-Program Recidivism Status

By Avdi S. Avdija and JiHee Lee 

The main purpose of this study is to investigate the impact of Electronic Monitoring Home Detention (EMHD) program on post-program recidivism status of those who have participated in the program. The second objective of this study is to determine what factors best predict post-EMHD program recidivism. A binary logistic regression analysis was performed on a fourteen-variable model attempting to predict post-program recidivism status for the subjects who have been sentenced in the EMHD program. The analyses of the data in this study are based on a total of 293 subjects. A significant, yet interesting finding that emerged from this study is that EMHD program, measured as the “exit status” (successful completion vs. unsuccessful) had no effect on reducing post-program recidivism for the subjects that participated in the program. The data show that the odds of one recidivating after their release were two times higher for those who had successfully completed the EMHD program compared to the subjects who did not complete the program.


Understanding collateral consequences of registry laws: An examination of the perceptions of sex offender registrants

By Erika Davis Frenzel, Kendra N. Bowen, Jason D. Spraitz, James H. Bowers, and Shannon Phaneuf

Sex offender registration and notification laws have been widely studied since their implementation during the mid-1990s. Within the last decade, researchers have turned their focus towards the unintended and collateral consequences that registered sex offenders (RSO) experience as a byproduct of being listed on a registry. This study of the consequences that RSOs in Pennsylvania, Texas, and Wisconsin endure mirrors research that has studied offenders in Kentucky and Indiana (Tewksbury, 2004, 2005). Self-report surveys containing Likert-type and open-ended questions were mailed to RSOs in three states. Participants were asked how the registry has affected their relationships and how they have been treated by family, friends, employers, and strangers. Descriptive results from the sample of 443 respondents suggest that RSOs are treated similarly across various geographic locales and qualitative responses depict collateral consequences that impact family and friends of the offender and go further than traditional correctional aims. 


The Impact of Prison Arts Programs on Inmate Attitudes and Behavior: A Quantitative Evaluation

By Larry Brewster

California has been a leader in prison fine arts programs. Arts-in-Corrections, the granddaddy of them all, enjoyed a highly successful 30 year run until its closure in 2010 as a result of the state's budget crisis. This study evaluates three demonstration projects modeled after AIC, and prison theater programs offered through The Actors' Gang's Prison Project and Marin Shakespeare. Inmates from San Quentin, Soledad, New Folsom and CRC, Norco state prisons participated in the study. Pre-and Post surveys designed to measure changes in attitudes and behavior were administered at the start and finish of each 12-week arts program. The surveys included attitudinal scales adapted from the "Life Effectiveness Questionnaire" (LEQ) measuring: time management, social competence, achievement motivation, intellectual flexibility, emotional control, active initiative, and self-confidence. In addition to positive correlations between arts education and life effectiveness attitudes, we found a reduction in disciplinary reports and greater participation in academic and vocation programs. This study supports the findings of other prison arts evaluations in this country and elsewhere.


Home Free: Combatting Veteran Prosecution and Incarceration

By Jesse Wm. Barton

After nearly 13 years of warfare, hundreds of thousands of U.S. veterans face social problems such as unemployment, homelessness, and suicide. But from the perspective of a criminal-defense practitioner, the most pressing disorder is the one that historical antecedents foretold: veterans facing prosecution and incarceration for various sorts of conduct that may be classified as criminal. 

So often these social disorders are symptoms of training and experience in the military, particularly for those who saw combat and suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury, or both. Moreover, strategic miscalculations in the war effort exacerbated these disorders, as have the facts that virtually the entire nation decided to excuse itself from physically participating in the war effort, and the nation decided that the effort was not even worth paying for.

As a result of these miscalculations and decisions, the agency charged with reintegrating veterans into civilian society—the Department of Veterans Affairs—is inadequately funded. That lack of funding, coupled with the agency’s own forms of mismanagement, have left it incapable of providing hundreds of thousands of veterans the rehabilitative services that a moral society would demand.

Were the nation now to accept its obligations as a moral society, it would accord the proper respect to and understanding of the demands and consequences of military service. It would find compassion, instead of antipathy, for its beleaguered veterans. Following that, the nation would provide the resources necessary to meet the demands of a moral society that is committed to aiding its beleaguered veterans in reclaiming their civilian lives.


Castle Doctrine Legislation: Unintended Effects for Gun Ownership? (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3)

By Lacey N. Wallace

Between 2000 and 2010, more than 20 states passed new or revised legislation referred to as the Castle Doctrine. These statutes provide citizens protection from criminal prosecution and civil liability in cases where an individual uses physical force to protect self or home. Advocated by the National Rifle Association, these statutes were intended to protect citizens using firearms as self-defense. Little research to date has examined their effects. This paper tests whether Castle Doctrine legislation affected gun ownership and acquisition, as approximated by the number of Federal background checks and the proportion of suicides attributable to firearms. Analyses treat both outcomes as time series spanning 2000-2010 with states as panels. Results indicate that Castle Doctrine legislation is associated with a long-term increase in the number of Federal background checks. Results for the proportion of suicides attributable to firearms are limited. Implications of these results and avenues for future research are discussed.

Keywords: guns, JPJ, sex offenders, veterans

Posted in Volume 11, Justice Policy Journal

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