Akiva Liberman

Vera Institute of Justice, New York City, New York, United States

Are you Akiva Liberman?

Claim your profile

Publications (13)25.42 Total impact

  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: In a large sample of urban police officers, 18.1% of males and 15.9% of females reported experiencing adverse consequences from alcohol use and 7.8% of the sample met criteria for lifetime alcohol abuse or dependence. Female officers had patterns of alcohol use similar to male officers and substantially more than females in the general population. Critical incident exposure and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms were not associated with level of alcohol use. Greater psychiatric symptoms were related to adverse consequences from alcohol use. There was a noteworthy gender by work stress interaction: greater routine work stress related to lower current alcohol use in female officers. 
    American Journal on Addictions 01/2011; 20(1):21-9. DOI:10.1111/j.1521-0391.2010.00092.x · 1.74 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: The Critical Incident History Questionnaire indexes cumulative exposure to traumatic incidents in police by examining incident frequency and rated severity. In over 700 officers, event severity was negatively correlated (r(s) = -.61) with frequency of exposure. Cumulative exposure indices that varied emphasis on frequency and severity-using both nomothetic and idiographic methods-all showed satisfactory psychometric properties and similar correlates. All indices were only modestly related to posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms. Ratings of incident severity were not influenced by whether officers had ever experienced the incident. Because no index summarizing cumulative exposure to trauma had superior validity, our findings suggest that precision is not increased if frequency is weighted by severity.
    Journal of Traumatic Stress 12/2010; 23(6):734-43. DOI:10.1002/jts.20576 · 2.72 Impact Factor
  • Akiva M. Liberman
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: These critical policy-relevant questions regarding adolescent offending and how to reduce it are the substantive topics of this volume. Each of these questions has been addressed by numerous studies. Why another book?-To capitalize on recent investments in longitudinal research.
    12/2007: pages 3-20;
  • Jeffrey Fagan, Aaron Kupchik, Akiva Liberman
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Three decades of legislative activism have resulted in a broad expansion of states' authority to transfer adolescent offenders from juvenile to criminal (adult) courts. At the same time that legislatures have broadened the range of statutes and lowered the age thresholds for eligibility for transfer, states also have reallocated discretion away from judges and instituted simplified procedures that permit prosecutors to elect whether adolescents are prosecuted and sentenced in juvenile or criminal court. These developments reflect popular and political concerns that relatively lenient or attenuated punishment in juvenile court violates proportionality principles for serious crimes committed by adolescents, and is ineffective at deterring or controlling future crimes. This legislative activism has reshaped the boundaries of the juvenile court, and animated calls for its elimination. Yet these developments have taken place in a near vacuum of empirical analysis of the efficacy of these measures to increase punishment or reduce crime. Jurisprudential analyses of the fit between the traditional doctrines of immaturity and reduced culpability of juveniles also has lagged far behind the pace of legislative change. The redrawing of the boundaries of the juvenile court also has not reflected new knowledge on adolescent development, the legal socialization of adolescents, and their responsiveness to criminal sanctions. The new boundaries of the juvenile court also threaten to reify and intensify social and racial dimensions of criminal punishment. To address these questions, we conducted a natural experiment to assess whether prosecuting and sentencing adolescent felony offenders in the criminal court leads to harsher punishment, and whether that harsher punishment translates into improved public safety. We show that serious adolescent offenders prosecuted in the criminal court are likely to be rearrested more quickly and more often for violent, property and weapons offenses, and they are more often and more quickly returned to incarceration. Adolescents prosecuted and punished in the juvenile court are more likely to be rearrested for drug offenses. These results suggest that law and policy facilitating wholesale waiver or categorical exclusion of certain groups of adolescents based solely on offense and age, are ineffective at both specific deterrence of serious crime, despite political rhetoric insisting the opposite. Such laws may increase the risk of serious crimes by adolescents and young adults, by heavily mortgaging their possibilities to deflect their criminal behavioral trajectory and enter a path of prosocial human development. Returning to a discretionary, judge-centered transfer policy, rather than wholesale waiver or surgical exclusion of entire categories of adolescent offenders, would limit the number of youth subjected to criminal court prosecution and harsh punishment conditions in adult corrections. A policy of discretionary transfer of only the most serious offenders, whose eligibility for transfer would be transparently assessed with full access to evidence and expertise, would ensure proportional punishment for the few adolescents whose severe crimes demand greater punishment than is available in the juvenile court, and whose punishment as juveniles might corrode the legitimacy of the juvenile court.
    SSRN Electronic Journal 07/2007; DOI:10.2139/ssrn.491202
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: The goal of this study was to examine whether panic mediates the relationship between fear, helplessness, and horror (PTSD criterion A2) and dissociation at the time of trauma. The study sample included 709 police officers and 317 peer-nominated civilians who had been exposed to a variety of critical incidents. Participants filled out measures of critical incident exposure, PTSD criterion A2, panic, and dissociation. Results indicate that together, physical and cognitive symptoms of panic completely mediate the relationship between criterion A2 and dissociation in civilians, and partially mediate that relationship in police. These results provide support for the idea that panic mediates the relationship between fear, helplessness, and horror (criterion A2) and dissociation at the time of trauma. The results also raise the possibility, however, that the mediational role of panic may be further moderated by additional variables.
    Behaviour Research and Therapy 02/2007; 45(1):39-47. DOI:10.1016/j.brat.2006.01.008 · 3.85 Impact Factor
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: The relationship of type of critical incident (CI) stressor with peritraumatic responses and posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms was examined in police. Officers (N = 662) provided narratives of their most distressing CI experienced during police service and completed measures of related peritraumatic responses and posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms. Narratives were reliably rated (kappa = .80-1.0) on seven categories emerging from a series of factor analyses of a measure of critical incident stressors. Additional analysis revealed that the classification of primary narrative features required only five categories (personal life threat, duty-related violence, encountering physical or sexual assault victims, exposure to civilian death, other). When analyzed by further collapsing these five categories into high versus low personal threat, officers whose narratives contained high personal threat reported more peritraumatic dissociation, peritraumatic emotional distress, and current hyperarousal symptoms. Results suggest that greater personal threat during a CI may place an officer at greater risk for subsequent distress.
    Journal of Nervous & Mental Disease 09/2006; 194(8):591-7. DOI:10.1097/01.nmd.0000230641.43013.68 · 1.81 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: We provide an overview of previous research conducted by our group on risk and resilience factors for PTSD symptoms in police and other first responders. Based on our work, the findings of other investigators on individual differences in risk for PTSD, and drawing on preclinical studies fear conditioning and extinction, we propose a conceptual model for the development of PTSD symptoms emphasizing the role of vulnerability and resilience to peritraumatic panic reactions. We tested this conceptual model in a cross-sectional sample of police officers (n = 715). Utilizing an hierarchical linear regression model we were able to explain 39.7% of the variance in PTSD symptoms. Five variables remained significant in the final model; greater peritraumatic distress (beta = 0.240, P < .001), greater peritraumatic dissociation (beta = 0.174, P < .001), greater problem-solving coping (beta = 0.103, P < .01), greater routine work environment stress (beta = 0.182, P < .001), and lower levels of social support (beta = -0.246, P < .001). These results were largely consistent with the proposed conceptual model. Next steps in this line of research will be to test this model prospectively in a sample of 400 police academy recruits assessed during training and currently being followed for the first 2 years of police service.
    Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences 08/2006; 1071:1-18. DOI:10.1196/annals.1364.001 · 4.31 Impact Factor
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: The relationship of alexithymia to posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptomatology was examined cross-sectionally in 166 urban police officers surveyed between 1998 and 1999 and prospectively in 54 of these officers who participated in a follow-up survey after the September 11, 2001 (9/11) terrorist attacks. In cross-sectional analyses, alexithymia scores were positively associated with PTSD symptom levels and self-reported childhood emotional abuse--neglect, but not with cumulative level of critical incident exposure. Alexithymia scores accounted for 11.2% of the variance in PTSD symptoms prior to accounting for additional predictors, but did not retain significance in the final model. In prospective analyses, alexithymia scores significantly predicted 9/11-related PTSD symptom severity over and above pre-9/11 PTSD symptoms.
    Journal of Traumatic Stress 07/2006; 19(3):361-73. DOI:10.1002/jts.20133 · 2.72 Impact Factor
  • Source
    Jeffrey Fagan, Aaron Kupchik, Akiva Liberman
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: In the past two decades, nearly every state has expanded its authority and simplified its procedures to transfer adolescent offenders from juvenile to criminal (adult) courts. As a result, the use of jurisdictional transfer has grown steadily. These developments reflect popular and political concerns that punishment in juvenile courts is too lenient for serious crimes committed by adolescents. Yet there is mixed evidence that expanded transfer authority has produced more certain or severe punishments for adolescents prosecuted in criminal courts. Some empirical studies show that adolescents transferred to criminal court are more likely to be convicted, sentenced to prison, and serve longer sentences, compared to similar cases that remain in the juvenile court. Other studies show that transferred cases receive similar sentences or receive less severe punishments. In this article, we report the results of a natural experiment comparing detention, disposition and custodial sentence lengths for matched groups of adolescents charged with serious felony offenses in juvenile or criminal courts. We report that adolescents prosecuted as adults are at a greater risk of detention and incarceration, and if incarcerated, sentenced to longer sentences than adolescents in juvenile courts. Yet the disparity between outcomes in juvenile and criminal courts is not as large as the rhetoric surrounding this issue would lead one to believe. The resilience of common law doctrine of diminished culpability of adolescents is evident in the limited effects of expanded jurisdictional transfer activity on sentencing and punishment of adolescents in criminal court. We discuss the jurisprudential and social policy implications of denying adolescents the latitude of a traditionally more rehabilitative and lenient juvenile court.
    SSRN Electronic Journal 09/2002; DOI:10.2139/ssrn.334061
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: The relationship between routine work stress and psychological distress was investigated among 733 police officers in three US cities, during 1998-1999. The Work Environment Inventory (WEI) was developed to assess exposure to routine work stressors, while excluding duty-related traumatic stressors (critical incidents). The WEI and its general properties are presented. The relationship between routine work stress exposure and psychological distress is then explored. Exposure to routine work stressors predicted general psychological distress (r = 0.46), as well as post-traumatic stress symptoms following officers’ most traumatic career incident (rs = 0.26 to 0.39). Multivariate analyses found that these effects were independent of, and larger than, the effects of cumulative critical incident exposure. (Time since the most traumatic event, social support, and social desirability effects were also controlled statistically.) Routine occupational stress exposure appears to be a significant risk factor for psychological distress among police officers, and a surprisingly strong predictor of post-traumatic stress symptoms.
    Policing An International Journal of Police Strategies and Management 05/2002; 25(2):421-441. DOI:10.1108/13639510210429446 · 0.55 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Police officers face many stressors that may negatively impact sleep quality. This study compares subjective sleep quality in police officers with that in control subjects not involved in police or emergency services. We examined the effects of critical incident exposure (trauma exposure) and routine (nontraumatic) work environment stressors on sleep quality after controlling for the effects of work shift schedule. Subjective sleep disturbances were measured by the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index in police officers (variable-shift workers, N = 551; stable day-shift workers, N = 182) and peer-nominated comparison subjects (variable-shift workers, N = 98; stable day-shift workers, N = 232). The main predictor variables were 1) duty-related critical incident exposure to on-line policing and 2) work environment stress related to routine administrative and organizational aspects of police work. Police officers on both variable and stable day shifts reported significantly worse sleep quality and less average sleep time than the two corresponding control groups. Within police officers, cumulative critical incident exposure was associated with nightmares but only weakly associated with poor global sleep quality. In contrast, the stress from officers' general work environment was strongly associated with poor global sleep quality. Sleep disturbances were strongly associated with posttraumatic stress symptoms and general psychopathology. A large percentage of police officers report disturbances in subjective sleep quality. Although the life-threatening aspects of police work are related to nightmares, the routine stressors of police service seem to most affect global sleep quality in these subjects. These findings may have implications for health and occupational performance.
    Psychosomatic Medicine 01/2002; 64(2):345-52. DOI:10.1097/00006842-200203000-00019 · 4.09 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: We studied 655 urban police officers (21% female, 48% white, 24% black, and 28% Hispanic) to assess ethnic and gender differences in duty-related symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). We obtained self-report measures of: a) PTSD symptoms, b) peritraumatic dissociation, c) exposure to duty-related critical incidents, d) general psychiatric symptoms, e) response bias due to social desirability, and f) demographic variables. We found that self-identified Hispanic-American officers evidenced greater PTSD symptoms than both self-identified European-American and self-identified African-American officers. These effects were small in size but they persisted even after controlling for differences in other relevant variables. Contrary to expectation, we found no gender differences in PTSD symptoms. Our findings are of note because: a) they replicate a previous finding of greater PTSD among Hispanic-American military personnel and b) they fail to replicate the well-established finding of greater PTSD symptoms among civilian women.
    Journal of Nervous & Mental Disease 08/2001; 189(7):442-8. · 1.81 Impact Factor
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: We studied 655 urban police officers (21% female, 48% white, 24% black, and 28% Hispanic) to assess ethnic and gender differences in duty-related symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). We obtained self-report measures of. a) PTSD symptoms, b) peritraumatic dissociation, c) exposure to duty-related critical incidents, d) general psychiatric symptoms, e) response bias due to social desirability, and f) demographic variables. We found that self-identified Hispanic-American officers evidenced greater PTSD symptoms than both self-identified European-American and self-identified African-American officers. These effects were small in size but they persisted even after controlling for differences in other relevant variables. Contrary to expectation, we found no gender differences in PTSD symptoms. Our findings are of note because: a) they replicate a previous finding of greater PTSD among Hispanic-American military personnel and b) they fail to replicate the well-established finding of greater PTSD symptoms among civilian women.
    Journal of Nervous & Mental Disease 06/2001; 189(7):442-448. DOI:10.1097/00005053-200107000-00005 · 1.81 Impact Factor