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Homicide Arrest Clearances: A Review of the Literature

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Abstract

This is a review of the research literature on homicide arrest clearances or homicides for which no offender is arrested. The article describes the decline in the percent of homicides resulting in arrests and charges from over 90 pecent in 1960 to 61 percent in 2006. Research is reviewed on the reasons for the lack of public attention and concern and the low homicide clearance rates in the USA in comparison with other countries. Research on the extent to which homicides are uncleared because they involve low-status persons and those economically disadvantaged is compared with research suggesting that it is the characteristics of the homicide event that make clearance difficult. It seems that such factors as age, gender, and race/ethnicity play a role in whether the homicide is cleared by arrest. Characteristics of homicides that increase clearances include occurrence in private residences, domestic homicides, and homicide with weapons other than firearms. Research on what police can do to increase clearances is examined. Suggestions on how to increase access to information on how homicide investigations are carried out are also discussed.

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... Given the absence of direct evidence measures, crime characteristics serve as proxies. Variables shown to positively predict homicide arrest rates serve as indicators for evidence, including location, weapon, incident time, and victim-offender relationship (for a review, see Riedel, 2008). For example, residential homicides usually contain greater evidence because the suspect is typically at the crime scene when the police arrive (Riedel, 2008). ...
... Variables shown to positively predict homicide arrest rates serve as indicators for evidence, including location, weapon, incident time, and victim-offender relationship (for a review, see Riedel, 2008). For example, residential homicides usually contain greater evidence because the suspect is typically at the crime scene when the police arrive (Riedel, 2008). Likewise, it is often easier to locate suspects in crimes where the victim and offender know each other, while homicides with contact weapons (e.g., knives, blunt objects) generally contain more forensic evidence than firearm offenses because of the close physical contact involved (Riedel, 2008). ...
... For example, residential homicides usually contain greater evidence because the suspect is typically at the crime scene when the police arrive (Riedel, 2008). Likewise, it is often easier to locate suspects in crimes where the victim and offender know each other, while homicides with contact weapons (e.g., knives, blunt objects) generally contain more forensic evidence than firearm offenses because of the close physical contact involved (Riedel, 2008). Incident time (1 ¼ weekday, 0 ¼ weekend), quick arrest (1 ¼ incident and arrest occurred on the same day, 0 ¼ more than one day from the incident to the arrest date), and murder weapon (1 ¼ firearm, 0 ¼ nonfirearm) were dichotomously coded. ...
Article
To understand how racial/ethnic disparities are formed and sustained within death penalty institutions, this study tracks homicide cases through multiple stages of Los Angeles County’s criminal justice system. Drawing upon cumulative disadvantage research, this study focuses on the accumulation of racial/ethnic biases across multiple decision-making points. Logistic regressions seek to answer the following questions: (1) does victim/defendant race/ethnicity influence prosecutorial decision-making? and (2) if so, do these racial/ethnic disparities accumulate across multiple stages of the criminal justice system? Results indicate that cases with minority victims are less likely to involve a death-eligible charge or death notice. Moreover, these racial/ethnic disparities increase as cases advance through the courts, producing a Whiter pool of victims at later stages in the process. Defendant race/ethnicity is not predictive of death penalty charging decisions but does moderate the influence of victim race/ethnicity such that cases with minority defendants and White victims are treated more punitively.
... The different factors which influence homicide clearance rates have been traditionally organized around two conflicting perspectives in the literature: the discretionary and the nondiscretionary. The discretionary perspectiveor extralegal (Riedel, 2008) suggests that victimology (e.g., age, gender) will influence how vigorously and diligently the police will work to solve a crime (Black, 1976). For instance, "victim preferencing" could explain why the homicide of a poor sex trade worker would be less likely to be cleared by the police than a case involving an upper class female victim. ...
... Research on homicide clearance rates that consider the influence of victim characteristics reveal a general consensus that cases of homicide involving younger victims tend to be solved more expeditiously (Addington, 2006(Addington, , 2008Alderden & Lavery, 2007;Jiao, 2007;Korosec, 2012;Lee, 2005;Puckett & Lundman, 2003;Regoeczi et al., 2000;Regoeczi et al., 2008;Roberts, 2008;Roberts & Lyons, 2009;Trussler, 2010). This could be due to three main factors: (1) when the victim is a child, the public are likely to experience increased moral outrage, and getter pressure is brought to bear on investigating agencies, resulting in the dedication of more time and resources to solve the case (Riedel, 2008); (2) children are usually in the company of others who may be potential witnesses to the crime and able to provide information to the police (Riedel, 2008); and (3) homicides of children are more likely to be committed by a family member, thus limiting the required scope of the investigation (Regoeczi et al., 2008). ...
... Research on homicide clearance rates that consider the influence of victim characteristics reveal a general consensus that cases of homicide involving younger victims tend to be solved more expeditiously (Addington, 2006(Addington, , 2008Alderden & Lavery, 2007;Jiao, 2007;Korosec, 2012;Lee, 2005;Puckett & Lundman, 2003;Regoeczi et al., 2000;Regoeczi et al., 2008;Roberts, 2008;Roberts & Lyons, 2009;Trussler, 2010). This could be due to three main factors: (1) when the victim is a child, the public are likely to experience increased moral outrage, and getter pressure is brought to bear on investigating agencies, resulting in the dedication of more time and resources to solve the case (Riedel, 2008); (2) children are usually in the company of others who may be potential witnesses to the crime and able to provide information to the police (Riedel, 2008); and (3) homicides of children are more likely to be committed by a family member, thus limiting the required scope of the investigation (Regoeczi et al., 2008). ...
Article
Purpose The study examines whether the use of forensic awareness strategies increases the chance of avoiding police detection in sexual homicide. Methods Logistic and negative binomial regression analyses are used on a sample of 350 cases of sexual homicide – 250 solved and 100 unsolved cases – in order to determine if forensic awareness strategies are related to the status of the case (i.e., solved versus unsolved) and the number of days before body recovery, while controlling for certain victim characteristics. Results Although an offender’s use of precautions does not seem to increase the offender’s chance of avoiding police detection, some modus operandi behavior adopted by the offender at the crime scene may help to delay the discovery of the victim, and thus delay the offender’s apprehension. Moreover, the likelihood of whether or not a sexual murderer is apprehended varied significantly across victim characteristics. Conclusion Some offenders seem to exhibit rational thinking in targeting certain types of victims and in adopting certain strategies in order to delay body recovery. Number of days until body recovery is a more appropriate measure of detection avoidance than case status, as it is not biased by administrative rules or timing of data entry.
... The various factors which influence homicide solvability have been traditionally organized around two main conflicting perspectives in the literature which can be applied to rape cases as well. According to the discretionary perspective (Riedel, 2008), victimology (e.g., age, gender) influences how vigorously and diligently the police work to solve a crime (Black, 1976). Such a perspective has been often used to explain why, for example, the murder of a white female from an upper socioeconomic background would be more likely to be solved than the murder of a sex trade worker (for a review see Beauregard & Martineau, 2014). ...
... The nondiscretionary perspective (Riedel, 2008) on the other hand, suggests that it is the characteristics of the offense itself (e.g., weapon use, presence of forensic traces) that are most important in determining the solvability of the crime. According to this perspective, the police are fully engaged and committed to clear every homicide, although they may not be able to do so due to external situational factors. ...
... It has been suggested that when victims are younger, they are more vulnerable, which increases the pressure on the police to solve the crime. Consequently, more resources are devoted to solve these crimes quickly (Du Mont & Parnis, 2000;Riedel, 2008). Moreover, crimes against children are generally perpetrated by acquaintance or in the presence of witnesses, which leads to more information being available to solve the crime (Regoeczi, Jarvis, & Riedel, 2008;Riedel, 2008). ...
Article
Purpose: Despite the importance of understanding factors related to solving sexual crimes, there have been very few studies conducted on the topic. Further, these studies tend to focus on homicides exclusively and often neglect the fact that offenders may adopt certain behaviors that increase their chances of avoiding detection (i.e., investigative awareness). Methods: The current study seeks to explore the role of the offender’s behavior (i.e., selection of certain victim characteristics, crime characteristics, and investigative awareness strategies) on case outcomes (i.e., solved vs. unsolved) in a large sample of rapes (n =4354) occurring in France between 1979 and 2018. Results: Findings from logistic regression analyses indicated that certain victim (e.g., victim was jogging or walking) and crime (e.g., outdoor location) characteristics, as well as investigative awareness strategies (e.g., giving a false identity) were significantly associated with unsolved cases. Conclusions: Interestingly, forensic evidence had only a minor impact on case status, whereas the familiarity of the crime location and victim interactions with the offender appeared to be most important. Theoretical implications and utility for police investigations are discussed.
... When offenders are not apprehended, the potential deterrent effect of sanctions is diminished (Braga & Dusseault, 2018) and police legitimacy may be undermined (Roberts & Lyons, 2011). This can result in an increase of fear, legal cynicism, and self-help violent behaviors within communities (Pizarro, 2017;Riedel, 2008;Roberts & Lyons, 2011). As a result, apprehending homicide offenders, and clearing these cases, is of paramount importance to the police and society. ...
... In the United States, cases are considered cleared when the police arrest and charge offenders with a criminal offense and turn them over to the court for adjudication, or when exceptional circumstances such as the death of the offender preclude apprehension (Riedel, 2008). Nationally, clearance rates have declined from the 90% range in the early 1960s to the 60% range presently (Braga & Dusseault, 2018). ...
... This perspective posits that the amount of law one receives is a function of the social space one occupies. As applied to homicide clearance, this approach is based on the assumption that the police exercise discretion when investigating homicides based on extralegal characteristics such as victim socioeconomic status and demographics (Riedel, 2008). As a result, homicides are less likely to be cleared if the victim was a member of a group with low social status because officers are not as motivated and do not put in the necessary effort when investigating these cases. ...
Article
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This study examines whether changes made to the investigation procedures within the Rochester Police Department’s homicide unit have an effect on homicide clearance net of theoretically significant variables related to victim and police devaluation, event characteristic, and victim lifestyle. It examines 132 homicides investigated by the homicide unit over 4 years consisting of the pre-intervention period and post-intervention period. It is hypothesized that investigation tactics will affect the odds of clearance, even after controlling for other theoretically relevant variables. The findings support this hypothesis, suggesting that the approaches and tactics police departments implement within their investigative units are important.
... Lower clearance rates are puzzling because declines have occurred during a time when the number of homicides in the United States is dropping and there is potentially more available detective time to work cases, more technological advances that should enhance detection and investigation, and increased incarceration rates. Riedel (2008) has noted a lack of public attention to declining homicide clearance rates and suggested that police department reluctance to share information about cases with the public or academics may be a contributing factor. Some research suggests the changing nature of homicides (e.g., more gang, drugrelated, and stranger homicides) has reduced clearance rates (Regoeczi, Kennedy, & Silverman, 2000). ...
... Some research suggests the changing nature of homicides (e.g., more gang, drugrelated, and stranger homicides) has reduced clearance rates (Regoeczi, Kennedy, & Silverman, 2000). Riedel's (2008) review finds several characteristics of homicides that typically result in higher clearance rates: use of weapons other than firearms, homicides in residences, and those involving intimates or family members. Drugrelated homicides and homicides involving concomitant felonies of rape or robbery have lower clearance rates. ...
... Most importantly for this research, clearance rates could reflect a change in the nature of homicides. Riedel (2008) also identified these factors. As homicide clearance rates decline, the proportion of homicides that have unknown or unreported victim-offender relationships increases, as shown by U.S. Supplementary Homicide Reports (SHR), which provide the numbers and proportions of family, acquaintance, stranger, and unknown offender homicides over time for both cleared and uncleared homicides (it should be noted that clearance status for individual cases is not available in SHR). ...
Article
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This analysis examines the extent to which homicides initially reported as unknown offender in end-of-year reports, once cleared, are more likely to have been perpetrated by strangers than other cleared homicides. Using solved and unsolved homicides in Indianapolis (N = 829), we determined victim–offender relationships in homicides reported as unsolved in year-end reports, when solved, were not significantly different from homicides reported as having a suspect in year-end reports. Indianapolis homicides were classified disproportionately as acquaintances. Findings help negate the ongoing myth that unsolved homicides are disproportionately stranger homicides. Results suggest decreased homicide clearance rates are not due to increased stranger homicides.
... Algumas pesquisas da sociologia do direito têm observado que existe uma enorme variação na quantidade de leis aplicadas de acordo com a geometria social dos envolvidos em um conflito (Black, 1976 (Riedel, 2008). ...
... A chamada para a polícia pode apenas informar que há um corpo, sem dar maiores características deste, situação em que a área de ocorrência do delito será um definidor da disposição dos policiais em responder a esse incidente (Petersen, 2017). Nos bairros de população negra, por exemplo, a investigação policial tende a ser menos eficiente porque a polícia demora a chegar, fazendo com que a quantidade de casos elucidados seja substantivamente menor em comparação a áreas afluentes da cidade (Carter e Carter, 2016 (Riedel, 2008). ...
... Nos seriados norte-americanos, as mortes violentas intencionais são esclarecidas Se todos os procedimentos listados (coleta de vestígios, entrevista de testemunhas e conversas com residentes na área do crime) são realizados prontamente, aumenta-se a chance de elucidação do homicídio intencional (Riedel, 2008), o que cria um círculo virtuoso entre a polícia e a comunidade (Santos, 2018 Unidos da América a investigação é realizada para que um suspeito possa ser preso, no ...
Article
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Neste artigo analisamos dados de inquéritos policiais e processos penais de homicídios dolosos arquivados em Belo Horizonte entre os anos de 2003 e 2013, para entender os determinantes da elucidação desses homicídios. Como variáveis preditoras, usamos as características da vítima, os atributos do delito e a natureza dos procedimentos policiais. Os resultados informam que as características do assassinato e os métodos de descoberta da verdade (centrados no flagrante e na presença de testemunhas oculares do delito) são as variáveis que melhor explicam a diferença entre casos arquivados na polícia e na justiça. Todavia, o decurso do tempo tem papel de destaque, posto que inquéritos policiais não encerrados em até cinco anos têm chances irrisórias de serem transformados em processos penais.
... In other words, of the 12,670 homicides known to the police in 2010, more than one third (4,460) did not result in an arrest. Riedel (2008) has noted that the precipitous drop in homicide clearance rates is of key concern to the victims of crime and their families, as the lack of an arrest does little to reduce the fear of victimization and subdue trauma. Simultaneously, falling clearance rates undermine police organizational morale and compromises the public's trust in the police to deliver on their mandate (Riedel, 2008;Roberts & Lyons, 2011). ...
... Riedel (2008) has noted that the precipitous drop in homicide clearance rates is of key concern to the victims of crime and their families, as the lack of an arrest does little to reduce the fear of victimization and subdue trauma. Simultaneously, falling clearance rates undermine police organizational morale and compromises the public's trust in the police to deliver on their mandate (Riedel, 2008;Roberts & Lyons, 2011). ...
... This is a perplexing finding for Black's (1976) theory, given that children are predicted to receive less law relative to adults. Other indicators of victim social geometry-such as race, ethnicity, and gender-have produced mixed effects in the prediction of clearance (see Riedel, 2008). Previous studies have noted that incidents involving Caucasian victims are more likely to be cleared relative to cases with minority victims (Addington, 2006;Lee, 2005;Litwin & Xu, 2007;Regoeczi, Jarvis, & Riedel, 2008). ...
Article
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The current inquiry adds to the literature by using Hindelang's lifestyle theory to examine the relevance of victim involvement in a deviant lifestyle to the likelihood of and time to homicide clearance. Bivariate analyses suggest that victim lifestyle is an important factor in the distribution of clearance enhancing characteristics across homicide incidents. Cox proportional hazard models indicated that higher levels of victim participation in deviant lifestyle significantly increased the time until a homicide was cleared by arrest. Theoretical and practical issues are discussed in light of these findings.
... While scholars have shed significant light on the patterned nature and subtleties of homicide behavior, Jarvis and Regoeczi (2009) observed that much less research has been focused on law enforcement's efforts to identify and arrest homicide suspects. Faced with falling homicide clearance rates and an incomplete picture of the factors that predict case clearance (Alderden & Lavery, 2007;Keel, Jarvis, & Muirhead, 2009;Puckett & Lundman, 2003;Regoeczi & Jarvis, 2013;Riedel, 2008), the current study proposes a holistic and practical conceptual model to attend to the "many questions regarding correlates of homicide clearance [that] remain unanswered" (Rydberg & Pizarro, 2014, p. 2). ...
... Such factors can affect the complexity of a homicide case, as well as the probability of generating viable investigative leads. While rarely included in models, the victim/offender relationship is relevant to the incident circumstances domain (Gilbert, 1983;Riedel, 2008;Wolfgang, 1958), often representing a key closure predictor (Jiao, 2007;C. Lee, 2005;Xu, 2008). ...
... In addition, there was marginal support for the speculation that indoor crime scenes are more contained and thus easier to work (Alderden & Lavery, 2007;Jiao, 2007;McEwen, 2013). Model results are generally in line with growing research showing that homicide investigations are enhanced by the presence of verbal and physical evidence (Blair & Rossmo, 2010;Greenwood et al., 1977;Marché, 1994;McEwen & Regoeczi, 2015;Riedel, 2008;Roberts, 2007) and that information sharing and hot-spots policing increase police effectiveness (Braga & Weisburd, 2010;Braga & Pierce 2004;Chen et al., 2003;Florence et al., 2011;Sherman, Gartin, & Buerger, 1989). Our specific findings, however, are new to the clearance literature as the robust data used in this study allowed for novel operationalization of these measures. ...
Article
To advance our understanding of the factors that predict homicide investigation outcomes, this study systematizes measures into five substantive domains of inquiry (involved subjects, incident circumstances, case dynamics, ecological characteristics, and investigator factors), drawing attention to the significance of each block as a possible conceptual model for subsequent clearance research. The domain-focused approach was tested using 2009 to 2011 homicide cases (N = 252). Findings suggest such comprehensive models may provide practical flexibility to researchers when confronted with data access restrictions while preserving a sense of conceptual sophistication.
... Homicide incidents cleared by exceptional means 7 were excluded. Some incidents may be designated as having been exceptionally cleared even though the formal conditions for exceptional clearance, such as having enough evidence for prosecution and identifying the suspect's location, have not been met (Riedel, 2008). Exceptional clearance is therefore less appropriate than clearance by arrest for assessing police performance, and different factors characterize exceptional clearance and clearance by arrest (Jarvis & Regoeczi, 2009;Riedel & Boulahanis, 2007). ...
... While these limitations and future research opportunities show that the adjusted measures and rates here are not necessarily perfect, the difficulty adjustment does highlight the inadequacy of raw clearance rates as performance measures. While other researchers have commented on this inadequacy (Litwin, 2004;Riedel, 2008;Riedel & Jarvis, 1999;Waegel, 1981;Wellford & Cronin, 1999), the current study is the first to systematically demonstrate it. Even though it might be unrealistic for police agencies to actually carry out all of the calculations needed to adjust clearance rates, the current findings emphasize the importance of recognizing that different types of caseloads and jurisdictional conditions are more or less favorable to clearance. ...
... 1. Investigation difficulty refers to the degree of difficulty stemming from an incident's characteristics and larger jurisdictional context, not variability in the effort of individual police personnel or detectives from case to case. 2. Mistakes in clearance recording are also a concern in using the homicide clearance rate as a police performance measure (see Riedel, 2008, for details). ...
Article
Full-text available
Scholars have criticized the use of homicide clearance rates to measure police performance, as many incident- and jurisdiction-level characteristics beyond police control influence these rates. The current study estimated adjusted measures and rates of homicide arrest clearance, accounting for jurisdictional and incident characteristics related to investigation difficulty, for 85 agencies. Comparing agencies’ raw and adjusted measures indicates that 16% would be miscategorized as being above or below average in performance if the assessment of performance used raw rates. Adjusted homicide clearance rates, while not a singular indicator of overall success, offer a better police agency performance measure than raw rates.
... This study employs a series of homicide data enhancement protocols and empirically examines the degree to which these efforts impact the prediction of homicide case closure. There exists considerable scholarship on the topic of homicide case closure that spans many decades (see Riedel, 2008 andMcCorkle, 2020 for a general overview). Still the homicide clearance literature needs increased methodological conversation to help remediate the fact that findings are mixed, incongruent, and even contradictory (Lee, 2005;Riedel, 2008;Wellford & Cronin, 1999). ...
... There exists considerable scholarship on the topic of homicide case closure that spans many decades (see Riedel, 2008 andMcCorkle, 2020 for a general overview). Still the homicide clearance literature needs increased methodological conversation to help remediate the fact that findings are mixed, incongruent, and even contradictory (Lee, 2005;Riedel, 2008;Wellford & Cronin, 1999). Many research questions remain unanswered (Jarvis & Regoeczi, 2009;Jiao, 2007;Mancik et al., 2018;Rydberg & Pizarro, 2014). ...
... Table 1 displays the descriptive statistics of the study variables. Scanning the table, one observes that the distribution of study variables closely mirrors those observed in other homicide clearance studies (see Wellford & Cronin, 2000;Riedel, 2008or Hawk & Dabney, 2019 for variable-by-variable detail). ...
Article
This study explores issues associated with the data commonly used in homicide clearance research. Data collected from 2009 to 2011 case files ( n = 252) were reviewed during interviews with investigators ( n = 29). The multifaceted data collection approach produced a more comprehensive dataset than was available based solely upon case file reviews, with alterations to the data occurring in as many as 69% of the cases. The process advanced the precision of the data recorded, reduced missingness, and heightened detail on key variables. Significant differences were noted in multivariate analyses of the datasets when modeling clearances. Findings suggest contextualizing case file data is valuable.
... Second, some minority children, in particular African-American children, are more likely to come from socio-economically disadvantaged families and neighborhoods [13], which may limit resources available to parents and law enforcement for recovery efforts. Third, some have found legally irrelevant factors such as victim race and gender to nonetheless impact police PLOS responses [14]. In missing children cases, such variable responses could translate into variable recovery rates. ...
... In two large studies of homicide cases, clearance is found more likely when the victim is white [60,61]. [14] reports that among 13 studies of homicide arrests, 9 found racial/ethnic differences in police clearance rates consistent with the stratification hypothesis, and 4 found no differences. [62] finds no victim race differences in the chances of police clearance in archival data on cyberbullying cases. ...
... [61] finds that homicide case clearance is more likely with female victims. [14] reports that of 11 studies that examine the effect of victim gender on homicide case clearance, 5 find that cases with female victims are more likely cleared while in 6 cases no difference is found. [62] does not find any victim gender difference in the likelihood that a cyberbullying case is cleared. ...
Article
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We inquire whether there are race and gender differences in the recovery of missing children. We argue that race and gender differences may arise due to differential media attention, socio-economic background and police resources. Datasets used in previous research lack the representativeness and longitudinal character necessary for probing victim demographic effects on recovery success. Here we use official New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services records of all children reported missing in the period 2007-2010 containing exact dates of disappearance and recovery. In event-history analysis of these data we find that missing boys and girls have comparable daily recovery chances. Black children, however, on average remain missing longer and are more likely to still be missing by the end of our observation period than non-black children.
... Second, scholars report that type of weapon explains homicide clearances (Litwin & Xu, 2007). In particular, homicides that result in considerable physical evidence, such as those committed with fists and feet, are more likely to be cleared than homicides that produce less physical evidence, such as those committed using arson (Riedel, 2008). Third, researchers have consistently examined whether victim demographics explain homicide clearances (Roberts & Lyon, 2011). ...
... Homicides with young victims are cleared more often than homicides with older victims (Riedel & Rinehart, 1996). Evidence with respect to the effects victim gender and, especially, victim race and ethnicity and hence what Black (1976) termed victim devaluing and valuing is mixed, with some scholars reporting no effects (Litwin, 2004; Puckett & Lundman, 2003; Riedel, 2008) and others advancing evidence of race and ethnicity effects (Lee 2005; Roberts & Lyon, 2011). Last, whether a homicide is cleared is not just the result of whether people are willing to tell homicide detectives what they know or suspect (Anderson, 1999, p. 321) or victim demographics such as the gender of the violator and the victim (Liem, 2010). ...
... 174-175; also see " Grand Totals " at bottom ofTable 1 ). First, a homicide can be cleared by arrest where police arrest at least one person they allege committed the homicide (see, for instance, Roberts, 2007; also see Agha, 2009; Jarvis & Regoeczi, 2009; Ousey & Lee, 2010; Pridemore, 2008; Reasons, Francis, & Kim, 2010; Riedel, 2008; Xu, 2008). Second, an exceptional clearance occurs when homicide detectives have identified at least one person they allege committed the homicide but are unable to make an arrest because, for instance, the alleged violator killed and then committed suicide (Jarvis & Regoeczi, 2009; Liem, 2010; Regoeczi, Kennedy, & Silverman, 2000; Riedel, 2010; Riedel & Boulahanis, 2007). ...
Article
This research examines four operationalizations of homicide clearances at two time points for 816 homicides in Columbus, Ohio. Our goals are to answer two questions: (a) Does how a homicide clearance is operationalized affect explanations of homicide clearances? (b) Do Time 1 explanations of homicide clearances change when Time 2 homicide clearances are part of the analysis? The data show that how a homicide clearance is operationalized does not affect explanations of homicide clearances, with one exception. The data also show that adding Time 2 clearances does not change explanations of homicide clearances.
... These findings highlight the importance of the relationship between the community and the police; as residents who view the police as illegitimate are less likely to cooperate with police (Tyler, 2004). Homicide cases are more likely to be solved when witnesses and residents provide information to the police (Litwin, 2004;Riedel, 2008), however, noncooperation can be driven by fear (Riedel, 2008), or lack of trust in the police (Regoeczi & Jarvis, 2013). Unsolved homicides may continue the cycle of violence through retaliation (Cook & Ludwig, 2019), contributes to the trauma that family members of homicide survivors' experience (Wellman & Meitl, 2020;Stretesky et al., 2016;Stretesky et al., 2010;Simmons et al., 2014), and arguably to the larger communities, as homicides spread across communities much like an infectious disease (Zeoli et al., 2012). ...
... These findings highlight the importance of the relationship between the community and the police; as residents who view the police as illegitimate are less likely to cooperate with police (Tyler, 2004). Homicide cases are more likely to be solved when witnesses and residents provide information to the police (Litwin, 2004;Riedel, 2008), however, noncooperation can be driven by fear (Riedel, 2008), or lack of trust in the police (Regoeczi & Jarvis, 2013). Unsolved homicides may continue the cycle of violence through retaliation (Cook & Ludwig, 2019), contributes to the trauma that family members of homicide survivors' experience (Wellman & Meitl, 2020;Stretesky et al., 2016;Stretesky et al., 2010;Simmons et al., 2014), and arguably to the larger communities, as homicides spread across communities much like an infectious disease (Zeoli et al., 2012). ...
... Outcome measure: The outcome measure is homicide case clearance. Outcome codes were based on three disposition categories: open/no arrest, closed by arrest, and closed without arrest (Riedel, 2008). Closed without an arrest is usually considered exceptionally cleared, and indicates that police have a suspect but do not have enough evidence to make an arrest. ...
Article
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Background Homicide is a widely acknowledged public health problem in the United States. The majority of homicides are committed with a firearm and have long-term health consequences for family members and entire communities. When left unsolved, violence may be perpetuated due to the retaliatory nature of homicides. Improving homicide clearance rates may help prevent future violence, however, we know little about the community-level social dynamics associated with unsolved homicides. Methods This study examines the individual-and-community-level social processes associated with low homicide clearance rates in Indianapolis, Indiana between 2007 and 2017. Homicide clearance is the primary outcome, defined as if a perpetrator was arrested for that homicide case between 2007 and 2017. Individual-level variables include the victim’s race/ethnicity, sex, and age. Community-level (i.e., census tracts) variables include the number of resident complaints against the police, resident complains of community disorder, income inequality, number of police interactions, and proportion of African American residents. Results In Indianapolis over a 11-year period, the homicide clearance rate decreased to a low of 38% in 2017, compared to a national clearance rate of 60%. Homicide case clearance was less likely for minority (OR 0.566; 95% CI, 0.407–0.787; p < 0.01) and male (OR 0.576; 95% CI, 0.411–0.807; p < 0.01) victims. Resident complaints of community disorder were associated with a decreased odds of case clearance (OR 0.687; 95% CI, 0.485–0.973; p < .01)., African American victim’s cases were less likely to be cleared in 2014–2017 (OR 0.640; 95% CI, 0.437–0.938; p < 0.05), compared to 2007. Conclusions Our study identified differences in neighborhood social processes associated with homicide clearance, indicating existing measures on these community factors are complex. Programs aimed at improving signs of community disorder and building community engagement may improve neighborhood clearance rates, lower violence, and improve the health of these communities.
... Lorsque des agressions sexuelles sont commises, la mission de la police s'inscrit très souvent dans une approche réactive la conduisant à mener des enquêtes afin d'identifier des suspects. La résolution des infractions est encadrée par deux perspectives théoriques : discrétionnaire et non discrétionnaire (pour une revue complète de la littérature, voir Riedel, 2008). La perspective discrétionnaire suggère que le type d'infraction ainsi que les caractéristiques sociodémographiques (âge, statut socioéconomique, profession) des victimes auraient une influence sur le travail des policiers à résoudre les délits (Black, 1976). ...
... Les agressions sexuelles impliquant des enfants sont considérées comme prioritaires par la police en regard de la vulnérabilité des victimes, de la gravité des actes commis et de l'impact médiatique qu'elles suscitent (Du Mont et Myhr, 2000 ;Du Mont et Parnis, 2000). En effet, comparativement aux agressions sexuelles impliquant des victimes adultes, plus de ressources sont allouées à leur résolution, notamment à cause de la pression médiatique et populaire qui pousse les forces de police à identifier rapidement les coupables (Du Mont et Parnis, 2000 ;Riedel, 2008). Les agressions sexuelles commises envers les enfants sont également résolues plus rapidement, car la majorité d'entre elles sont commises par des agresseurs connus de leur victime (Regoecz, Jarvis et Riedel, 2008 ;Riedel, 2008). ...
... En effet, comparativement aux agressions sexuelles impliquant des victimes adultes, plus de ressources sont allouées à leur résolution, notamment à cause de la pression médiatique et populaire qui pousse les forces de police à identifier rapidement les coupables (Du Mont et Parnis, 2000 ;Riedel, 2008). Les agressions sexuelles commises envers les enfants sont également résolues plus rapidement, car la majorité d'entre elles sont commises par des agresseurs connus de leur victime (Regoecz, Jarvis et Riedel, 2008 ;Riedel, 2008). Cependant, lorsque ces agressions sexuelles sont commises par des agresseurs inconnus de leur victime, le travail d'enquête devient particulièrement complexe (Beauregard et Martineau, 2017b) et, malgré l'allocation de ressources humaines et budgétaires importantes, certaines infractions demeurent non résolues par les forces de police. ...
Preprint
Les agressions sexuelles d'enfants sont considérées comme l'une des formes de crimes les plus graves. Malgré l'octroi de moyens humains et financiers importants aux forces de police, certains de ces crimes ne sont pas résolus. La perspective non discrétionnaire suggère que les agresseurs adoptent des comportements particuliers qui diminuent leurs risques d'être identifiés par la police. Cette étude explore le rôle des choix et comportements des agresseurs (sélection de victimes avec des caractéristiques spécifiques, les paramètres des lieux associés aux crimes, les caractéristiques du crime, les stratégies précises pour éviter la détection policière) sur le statut de résolution du crime (c.-à-d. résolu versus non résolu). Cette recherche se base sur un échantillon de 309 cas de viols d'enfants (200 résolus et 109 non résolus) survenus en France entre 1982 et 2015. L'échantillon a été restreint aux victimes âgées de moins de 16 ans qui ont été agressées par un agresseur qu'elles ne connaissaient pas du tout au moment des faits. Les analyses bivariées et multivariées ont montré que la sélection de victimes avec des caractéristiques spécifiques (p. ex. : victimes qui n'étaient pas surveillées), le paramètre des lieux associés aux crimes (p. ex. : lieu unique pour la rencontre, la commission du crime et la libération de la victime) et les comportements de l'agresseur (p. ex. : diversité des actes sexuels, stratégie pour aborder la victime) impactent la résolution par la police des agressions sexuelles d'enfants. Cette étude montre égale-ment que la plupart des agresseurs sexuels d'enfants n'utilisent pas de stratégies spécifiques pour ne pas être détectés par la police. Cette étude présente aussi bien des conclusions théoriques et pratiques pour la compréhension du comportement criminel et l'amélioration des pratiques d'enquête policière.
... Lorsque des agressions sexuelles sont commises, la mission de la police s'inscrit très souvent dans une approche réactive la conduisant à mener des enquêtes afin d'identifier des suspects. La résolution des infractions est encadrée par deux perspectives théoriques : discrétionnaire et non discrétionnaire (pour une revue complète de la littérature, voir Riedel, 2008). La perspective discrétionnaire suggère que le type d'infraction ainsi que les caractéristiques sociodémographiques (âge, statut socioéconomique, profession) des victimes auraient une influence sur le travail des policiers à résoudre les délits (Black, 1976). ...
... Les agressions sexuelles impliquant des enfants sont considérées comme prioritaires par la police en regard de la vulnérabilité des victimes, de la gravité des actes commis et de l'impact médiatique qu'elles suscitent (Du Mont et Myhr, 2000 ;Du Mont et Parnis, 2000). En effet, comparativement aux agressions sexuelles impliquant des victimes adultes, plus de ressources sont allouées à leur résolution, notamment à cause de la pression médiatique et populaire qui pousse les forces de police à identifier rapidement les coupables (Du Mont et Parnis, 2000 ;Riedel, 2008). Les agressions sexuelles commises envers les enfants sont également résolues plus rapidement, car la majorité d'entre elles sont commises par des agresseurs connus de leur victime (Regoecz, Jarvis et Riedel, 2008 ;Riedel, 2008). ...
... En effet, comparativement aux agressions sexuelles impliquant des victimes adultes, plus de ressources sont allouées à leur résolution, notamment à cause de la pression médiatique et populaire qui pousse les forces de police à identifier rapidement les coupables (Du Mont et Parnis, 2000 ;Riedel, 2008). Les agressions sexuelles commises envers les enfants sont également résolues plus rapidement, car la majorité d'entre elles sont commises par des agresseurs connus de leur victime (Regoecz, Jarvis et Riedel, 2008 ;Riedel, 2008). Cependant, lorsque ces agressions sexuelles sont commises par des agresseurs inconnus de leur victime, le travail d'enquête devient particulièrement complexe (Beauregard et Martineau, 2017b) et, malgré l'allocation de ressources humaines et budgétaires importantes, certaines infractions demeurent non résolues par les forces de police. ...
Article
Full-text available
Les agressions sexuelles d’enfants sont considérées comme l’une des formes de crimes les plus graves. Malgré l’octroi de moyens humains et financiers importants aux forces de police, certains de ces crimes ne sont pas résolus. La perspective non discrétionnaire suggère que les agresseurs adoptent des comportements particuliers qui diminuent leurs risques d’être identifiés par la police. Cette étude explore le rôle des choix et comportements des agresseurs(sélection de victimes avec des caractéristiques spécifiques, les paramètres des lieux associés aux crimes, les caractéristiques du crime, les stratégies précises pour éviter la détection policière) sur le statut de résolution du crime (c.-à-d.résolu versus non résolu). Cette recherche se base sur un échantillon de 309 cas de viols d’enfants (200 résolus et 109 non résolus) survenus en France entre1982 et 2015. L’échantillon a été restreint aux victimes âgées de moins de 16ans qui ont été agressées par un agresseur qu’elles ne connaissaient pas du tout au moment des faits. Les analyses bivariées et multivariées ont montré que la sélection de victimes avec des caractéristiques spécifiques (p. ex. :victimes qui n’étaient pas surveillées), le paramètre des lieux associés aux crimes (p. ex. : lieu unique pour la rencontre, la commission du crime et la libération de la victime) et les comportements de l’agresseur (p. ex. : diversité des actes sexuels, stratégie pour aborder la victime) impactent la résolution parla police des agressions sexuelles d’enfants. Cette étude montre également que la plupart des agresseurs sexuels d’enfants n’utilisent pas de stratégies spécifiques pour ne pas être détectés par la police. Cette étude présente aussi bien des conclusions théoriques et pratiques pour la compréhension du comportement criminel et l’amélioration des pratiques d’enquête policière.
... Although most of the research on crime solvability has focused on homicide, there are two competing perspectives from this literature that can offer insight as to why sexual assault may remain unsolved. According to the discretionary perspective (Riedel, 2008), victimology (e.g., age, gender) is most influential in how vigorously and diligently police will work to investigate and solve a crime. For example, studies have shown that sexual crimes involving younger victims are more likely to be solved more by police (e.g., Chopin et al., 2019). ...
... For example, studies have shown that sexual crimes involving younger victims are more likely to be solved more by police (e.g., Chopin et al., 2019). Contrasting the discretionary perspective, is the non-discretionary perspective (Riedel, 2008), which suggests it is the characteristics of the offense itself (e.g., weapon use, forensic trace evidence) that are most important to solvability. As such, the non-discretionary perspective argues that police are motivated to solve all crimes but are not able to do so in some cases due to external situational factors. ...
... Control variables. On the basis of both discretionary and non-discretionary perspectives of crime solvability (Riedel, 2008), the following victimology (demographic and lifestyle characteristics) as well as crime characteristics (i.e., location and time of day) were used as controls related to case status. ...
Article
Full-text available
Past studies on criminal expertise showed that some sexual offenders possess skills related to avoiding detection. An important question that remains unaddressed in the literature, however, is whether unsolved cases can be used as a “proxy” for expertise. The present study sought to provide the first empirical examination of criminal expertise in a sample of solved (n = 732) and unsolved (n = 309) stranger sexual assault cases involving theft. We used binary logistic regression to determine whether behavioral indicators of criminal expertise predicted case status. Findings showed that the most relevant factors related to case solvability were not related to detection avoidance strategies used by the offender, but rather, whether semen evidence was found at the crime scene and the number of sexual acts performed against the victim. Interestingly, cases involving fetish theft were also more likely to remain unsolved. Implications for theory and practice are discussed.
... While homicides with weapons involving closer proximity (i.e., blunt objects or edged weapons), those occurring in residences, and those committed between relatives, intimate partners and acquaintances are more likely to be cleared. Conversely, cases involving drug transactions or violent felonies are less likely to be solved (Riedel, 2008). Regarding environmental and age demographics, Lundman and Myers (2012) found that people living in predominantly black census tracts are less cooperative with police, resulting in lower clearance rates. ...
... To date, a significant amount of research has been published regarding homicide clearance rates as related to victim's demographic characteristics and situational characteristics of homicide cases (see, Addington, 2008;Alderden & Lavery, 2007;DeCarlo, 2015;Lee, 2005;Litwin & Xu. 2007;dynamic Phillips, 2002;Regoeczi et al., 2000;Riedel, 2008;Riedel & Boulahanis, 2007;Roberts & Lyons, 2011). However, when looking at those studies comparatively, a large number of them have reported contradicting findings from which generalized conclusions cannot be drawn. ...
... Recent research suggests that the effect of youth rates upon homicide statistics is strongly influenced by social and socio-economic conditions (McCall et al., 2013). Therefore, while youth rates may remain a more accurate predictor of homicide rates in the United States than in many other countries (Addington, 2008;Alderden & Lavery, 2007;Regoeczi et al., 2008), there are several other socio-economic variables that influence the extent to which this correlation matters (Brown & Males, 2011;Riedel, 2008). ...
Article
This study examines homicide clearance rates in the United States using the FBI’s supplementary homicide reports data spanning from 1976 to 2017. The goal of this study is to examine the effects of circumstances in which homicides occurred on homicide clearance rates, and the effects of victim’s race, age, and gender on homicide clearance rates. The analyses are based on 769,753 total homicide cases that were reported to the FBI. The actual data set includes information for 757,801 victims and 513,863 offenders total. The results of this study show that a typical profile of a homicide victim whose case is more likely to remain unsolved is that of a black male between the ages of 21 to 30 who is killed in a juvenile gang-related killing circumstance. By gender, this study shows that the clearance rate for homicide cases involving female victims is 8.4% higher than for male homicide victims.
... Indeed, prior research indicates that a disproportionate number of unsolved homicides involve minority victims. While cases with characteristics linked to greater evidence are more likely to be solved (e.g., firearm weapon, residential crime scene), homicides involving minority victims are less likely to result in an arrest even after controlling for such factors (for a review, see Riedel, 2008). Homicide arrest rates also vary at the neighborhood level. ...
... The present research also examines the police-prosecution nexus. Despite a robust literature on the racialization of homicide arrests (Riedel, 2008), no study has directly examined the relationship between homicide arrest and prosecution outcomes. It has been argued that the police play a critical role in shaping death penalty outcomes by determining which cases enter into the system and the evidence brought to prosecutors, but this argument has not been empirically tested (Bright, 1994;Pierce & Radelet, 2005;Songer & Unah, 2006). ...
... The first dependent variable focuses on one of the most important turning points in the investigation and prosecution of a homicide-whether the case is cleared by arrest or exceptionally cleared. Based on the CADOJ definition, and in line with prior research (Riedel, 2008), clearance status is measured dichotomously (1 ¼ at least one suspect arrested or identified and 0 ¼ no arrests made or suspects not identified). According to the CADOJ (2010, p. 50), a case is cleared by arrest when ''at least one person is arrested, charged with the commission of an offense, and turned over to a court for prosecution.'' ...
Article
While prior research has uncovered racial disparities in the administration of death sentences, little attention has been devoted to earlier stages in the capital punishment processes. To understand the locus of racial bias within death penalty institutions, this study examines the entry of homicide cases into Los Angeles County’s criminal justice system during a 5-year period. This two-part analysis seeks to answer the following research questions: (1) Does victim/defendant race influence homicide clearance and death penalty charging decisions? and (2) if so, does the likelihood of clearance mediate the effect of victim race on death penalty charges? Logistic regressions indicate that cases involving Latino victims are less likely to be cleared. Moreover, cases with Black and Latino victims are less likely to be prosecuted with a death penalty–eligible charge. Racial disparities accumulate across these stages, with clearance patterns influencing subsequent death penalty charging decisions. Results underscore the cumulative nature of racial within criminal justice institutions. By linking police and prosecution outcomes, these findings also highlight the interrelationship between criminal justice agencies.
... Despite advances in policing, only 60-70% of homicides are solved each year in the USA, leaving 5000-6000 murders unsolved annually (Riedel 2008). A large proportion of these unsolved homicides involve Black or Latino victims, producing racially disparate homicide arrest rates (Riedel 2008). 1 Prior research suggests that neighbourhood racial and socioeconomic composition influence patterns of lethal violence and residents' crime stereotypes (Sampson 2012), yet few studies have examined the neighbourhood context of homicide arrests. ...
... Despite advances in policing, only 60-70% of homicides are solved each year in the USA, leaving 5000-6000 murders unsolved annually (Riedel 2008). A large proportion of these unsolved homicides involve Black or Latino victims, producing racially disparate homicide arrest rates (Riedel 2008). 1 Prior research suggests that neighbourhood racial and socioeconomic composition influence patterns of lethal violence and residents' crime stereotypes (Sampson 2012), yet few studies have examined the neighbourhood context of homicide arrests. Analysing data on homicide victims from Los Angeles (LA) County, California, within a multilevel framework, I attempt to disentangle the effects of jurisdictional features, neighbourhood racial composition, victim race, and crime circumstances on homicide arrests. ...
... Like other areas of criminal justice, prior research reveals homicide arrest disparities based on victim and neighbourhood characteristics. Black and Latino homicide victims are less likely to be solved than White victim homicides (for a review, see Riedel 2008). 4 Homicides occurring in Black, Latino, or economically disadvantaged communities are less likely to result in an arrest, while neighbourhood homicide rates do not affect the likelihood of arrest (Puckett and Lundman 2003, Litwin 2004, Litwin and Xu 2007. ...
Article
Prior research indicates that victim and crime characteristics shape homicide investigations, yet less is known about the effects of neighbourhood demographics. Drawing upon several theoretical perspectives, this study examines the neighbourhood context of homicide investigations. Multilevel logistic regressions disentangle the effects of covariates at the agency, neighbourhood, and individual level on homicide investigations in Los Angeles County, California. While several non-racial factors influence clearance outcomes, homicides occurring in areas with larger Black and Latino populations are less likely to be cleared. These findings highlight the importance of neighbourhood racial composition beyond victim race effects and have implications for the community context of criminal justice.
... U.S. homicide clearance rates have dropped from more than 92% in 1960 to 61% in 2006 (Riedel, 2008). Such low and declining clearance rates for a serious offense may reduce the deterrent effect of the criminal justice system, public trust in police and the criminal justice system overall, and morale among police officers (Riedel, 2008). ...
... U.S. homicide clearance rates have dropped from more than 92% in 1960 to 61% in 2006 (Riedel, 2008). Such low and declining clearance rates for a serious offense may reduce the deterrent effect of the criminal justice system, public trust in police and the criminal justice system overall, and morale among police officers (Riedel, 2008). ...
Article
Full-text available
When applied to homicide clearance by arrest, the victim-devaluing perspective posits that police favor higher—social status victims by allocating greater investigative effort to their cases. Previous studies have measured social status via a dichotomous race variable (White vs. Black, White vs. non-White, or non-Hispanic White vs. racial/ ethnic minority). As the Hispanic population grows in the United States, it is increasingly important to extend homicide clearance research beyond the traditional questions of dichotomous racial/ethnic differences. Using 2000-2007 homicide data from agencies that report victim’s ethnicity to the National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS), the current study examines the impact of victim’s race/ethnicity on homicide clearance by arrest via a trichomotous measure (non-Hispanic White, non-Hispanic Black, or Hispanic). Event history analysis found that, controlling for other incident characteristics, homicides with Hispanic victims had a lower risk of clearance by arrest than those with non-Hispanic White or non-Hispanic Black v ictims.
... 14 The literature strongly suggests that incident-level characteristics such as victim's demographics and the incident's situational characteristics are also important factors in the clearance outcome (e.g. Litwin 2004;Lundman and Myers 2012;Puckett and Lundman 2003;Riedel 2008;Roberts 2007). 15 Based on Black's (1976) influential work on the behavior of law, the victim-devaluing or extralegal perspective argues that allocation of police investigative time and effort varies by the victim's extralegal characteristics. ...
Article
Full-text available
Objectives Police workload’s relationship with crime clearance has been studied widely. In the challenging environment now facing police, even small and possibly temporary changes in investigative workload could harm clearance. However existing workload-clearance research either used only a yearly average that obscures temporal variability in caseload, or explored proxy rather than direct measures of workload’s short-term variation. Our improved workload measures capture caseload’s daily changes as crimes are reported, cleared, or remain uncleared but reach the end of active investigation. We examine relationships between clearance and both long- and short-term variability in workload. Methods Using NIBRS and LEMAS data, we calculated between-agency (typical or long-term) and time-varying, within-agency (daily fluctuating or short-term) workload measures. We used these and other agency/jurisdiction- and incident-level variables in multi-level survival analysis of clearance by arrest for serious violent incidents from 2007 NIBRS. Results Both workload measures were significantly and negatively related to the clearance hazard rate; higher long- and short-term workloads are associated with reduced chance of a case being cleared. The estimated relationship between longterm workload and clearance became progressively stronger (more negative) as the crime incident’s legal seriousness decreased. However, estimates indicated greater sensitivity of the clearance hazard to short-term workload fluctuations for more serious crimes, though the workload-clearance relationship remained negative for all crime types. Conclusion Crime clearance should be considered by police agency planners when addressing workload through staffing decisions. Refinement of our workload measures will require additional information, and should be considered in future agency- and incident-level data collection.
... Scholars seeking to delineate differences within each of these categories have parsed them further into four operationalizations. A discussion of these operationalizations is not pertinent to the current study, and can be reviewed further in the work of Riedel (2008) as well as Lundman and Myers (2012). What is relevant to the current research is that the findings of the latter study indicate that there are no differences of clearance rates across these mutually exclusive categories and extralegal victim characteristics (i.e., victim race and incident location). ...
Article
Full-text available
At present, the average homicide clearance rate in the United States is approximately 65%, down roughly 15% from the mid-1970s. This research seeks to inform how police can best improve homicide clearance rates by identifying best practices in homicide investigations. To accomplish this goal, as part of a federally funded project, seven geographically representative law enforcement agencies were identified that had at least 24 homicides in 2011 and had a clearance rate of 80% or higher from which effective investigative practices could be gleaned. Qualitative findings indicate that a strong community policing presence, collaboration with external agencies, and an innovative culture facilitate high rates of homicide clearance. Implications for policy and future research are discussed.
... In 2003 and 2008, the Australian Institute of Criminology delivered a clear message: despite the relatively low number of incidents compared to non-violent crime, serious violent crime offences account for a substantial portion of the costs of crime in Australia (Mayhew, 2003;Rollings, 2008). Moreover, a number of scholars have demonstrated a decline in police clearance of serious violent crime over recent decades (Horvath et al., 2001;Litwin & Xu, 2007;Riedel, 2008). Although investigation and responding to serious violent crime are core components of police work, the evidence-base for police investigative techniques for serious violent crime lacks the level of evaluation and synthesis seen for other policing interventions which have been predominantly assessed according to their impact on general crime and disorder. ...
Technical Report
Full-text available
Serious violent crime is a persistent and significant criminal justice issue (see Eisner, 2003; Fuller, 2013; Truman, Langton, & Planty, 2013; Wallace et al., 2009). In 2003 and 2008, the Australian Institute of Criminology delivered a clear message: despite the relatively low number of incidents compared to non-violent crime, serious violent crime offences account for a substantial portion of the costs of crime in Australia (Mayhew, 2003; Rollings, 2008). Moreover, a number of scholars have demonstrated a decline in police clearance of serious violent crime over recent decades (Horvath et al., 2001; Litwin & Xu, 2007; Riedel, 2008). Although investigation and responding to serious violent crime are core components of police work, the evidence-base for police investigative techniques for serious violent crime lacks the level of evaluation and synthesis seen for other policing interventions which have been predominantly assessed according to their impact on general crime and disorder. This systematic review aims to redress this imbalance by conducting the first ever systematic review focusing on the effectiveness of techniques that police use to investigate serious violent crime. Our review examines the evidence on police investigative techniques for serious violent crime to determine what works, what doesn’t, and for what crime types. Specifically, we systematically evaluate the impact of police investigative techniques on key police outcomes in the context of serious violent crime: offender identification, arrests, elicitation of confessions, convictions and case closure.
... Homicides ( 2. For a detailed review of homicide clearance research, see Riedel (2008). 3. Litwin and Xu (2007) also found a statistically significant impact of victim's race on homicide clearance, but the direction and statistical significance of effects varied by time period. ...
Article
Full-text available
Previous clearance research provides an incomplete test of theories emphasizing the role of both victim and offender status in police discretion. Using National Incident Based Reporting System (NIBRS) data, we investigate the impact of both victim's and offender's race, and, in particular, victim— offender racial dyads on homicide clearance by arrest, using event history (survival) analysis, so that time to clearance and censoring are considered. We also compare models for homicide clearance with those for aggravated assault. For homicides, results indicate that incidents with non-white offenders are more likely to be cleared by arrest than those with white offenders, regardless of victim's race. In contrast, for aggravated assault, dyads are important: incidents involving white victims and offenders are most likely to be cleared, with incidents involving non-white parties least likely to be cleared. Furthermore, the impact of victim—offender racial dyads on clearance is smaller for homicide than for aggravated assault.
... Clearance refers to the investigation of an incident resulting in the arrest of a suspect, and as such, is often used as a measure of law enforcement effectiveness (Paré, Felson, & Ouimet, 2007;Riedel, 2008). 2 Social scientists recognize that low or declining clearance rates, especially for serious crimes, may have deleterious consequences for law and society more broadly. ...
Article
Full-text available
Studying hate crime clearance rates provides an opportunity to uncover the factors that influence police effectiveness for a relatively new legal category-one that was designed ostensibly to protect minorities, and that may pose unique challenges for police reporting, defining, and investigation. Using multiple years (2005-2010) of data from the National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS), we estimate event history models to compare the incident-level predictors and relative probability of arrest for hate and nonbias crimes. As an aggregate category, we find hate crimes are less likely to clear than nonbias crimes. However, the most prototypical hate crimes-White-on-non-White incidents motivated by racial and ethnic bias-are as likely to clear as the most successfully cleared nonbias crimes. Our results suggest that only hate crimes that fit popular constructions of "normal victims and offenders" receive investigative outcomes comparable with otherwise similar nonbias offenses.
... Second, even though most studies use gang homicide as a proxy to study gang violence more generally only a few have included gangrelated assaults (Braga, McDevitt, & Pierce, 2006) or non-fatal gunshot wounds . It is likely that data availability is driving the reliance on using gang homicides as the common metric used to measure gang violence since police generally have more resources available, compared to other types of crime, to investigate a murder (see Keel, Jarvis, & Muirhead, 2009;Riedel, 2008). Furthermore, the processes that motivate gang homicide (e.g., retaliation, status seeking, long-term rivalries, etc.) are also most likely the same processes influencing gang assaults, however, the findings form this study reveal that differences exist in the environmental characteristics that spatially influence gang homicides compared to gang assaults. ...
... These studies provide highly valuable insight as they pay detailed attention to one particular decision-making stage. Most work has been done on the factors that influence homicide clearance (e.g., Riedel, 2008;Riedel & Rinehart, 1996;Roberts, 2007). To a lesser extent, studies have examined the selection effects in later stages of the system, such as the likelihood for homicides to be prosecuted as homicides, and homicide sentencing (e.g., Auerhahn, 2007;Baumer & Martin, 2013). ...
Article
Full-text available
The likelihood that homicides lead to arrest, conviction, and incarceration of the perpetrators varies widely across world regions. To date, we lack a comprehensive framework that can explain the differences in how homicide cases are processed in different jurisdictions, and how this knowledge can be used to hold perpetrators to account, to advance the rule of law, and to promote equal access to justice. This Special Issue seeks to advance the cross-national and comparative analysis of homicide case flows, from suspicious death to imprisonment. In this Introduction, we outline some analytic priorities that may help in moving the field forward.
... This goes to show that there is some evidence indicating the effects of social structure on the crime clearance rates are plausible. The clearance rate is also affected selectively by gender and age, in addition to race and socio-economic status (Riedel, 2008). Litwin and Xu (2007), for example, found that the clearance rates were higher for victims of younger age compared to older victims, and higher for male victims compared to the female victim (see Riedel & Rinehart, 1996 also). ...
Article
The main objective of this study was to examine the clearance rates of violent and non-violent offenses in the United States for the years 2011 to 2018. This study focused specifically on the differences in clearance rates of incidents involving crimes against persons, crimes against property, and crimes against society. The analyses are based on the FBI’s NIBRS data that have been reported by local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies for 8 years combined. The analyses focused on the characteristics of the distribution of clearance rates by the types of incidents. The clearance rates were calculated based on the number of incidents that were cleared by arrest or exceptional means. The results show that the average clearance rate for incidents involving crimes against persons is 48.6%, for incidents involving property crimes is 18%, and for incidents involving crimes against society is 78%. The trend analyses show that the clearance rates are gradually decreasing for all three types of offense categories.
... Despite the relevance of the issue, the United States have witnessed a significant decline in arrest rates in the last decades (Ousey and Lee, 2010; Council on Criminal Justice, 2021), with some variation and few exceptions (see for instance Strauss (2017)). This trend has recently fostered the attention of both media and researchers, somehow responding to previous calls made by Wellford and Cronin (1999) and Riedel (2008) to devote more attention to the problem. ...
Preprint
Full-text available
Purpose: To explore the potential of Explainable Machine Learning in the prediction and detection of drivers of cleared homicides at the national- and state-levels in the United States. Methods: First, nine algorithmic approaches are compared to assess the best performance in predicting cleared homicides country-wise, using data from the Murder Accountability Project. The most accurate algorithm among all (XGBoost) is then used for predicting clearance outcomes state-wise. Second, SHAP, a framework for Explainable Artificial Intelligence, is employed to capture the most important features in explaining clearance patterns both at the national and state levels. Results: At the national level, XGBoost demonstrates to achieve the best performance overall. Substantial predictive variability is detected state-wise. In terms of explainability, SHAP highlights the relevance of several features in consistently predicting investigation outcomes. These include homicide circumstances, weapons, victims' sex and race, as well as number of involved offenders and victims. Conclusions: Explainable Machine Learning demonstrates to be a helpful framework for predicting homicide clearance. SHAP outcomes suggest a more organic integration of the two theoretical perspectives emerged in the literature. Furthermore, jurisdictional heterogeneity highlights the importance of developing ad hoc state-level strategies to improve police performance in clearing homicides.
... Despite the relevance of the issue, the United States have witnessed a significant decline in arrest rates in the last decades (Ousey and Lee, 2010; Council on Criminal Justice, 2021), with some variation and few exceptions (see for instance Strauss (2017)). This trend has recently fostered the attention of both media and researchers, somehow responding to previous calls made by Wellford and Cronin (1999) and Riedel (2008) to devote more attention to the problem. ...
Article
Full-text available
Purpose To explore the potential of Explainable Machine Learning in the prediction and detection of drivers of cleared homicides at the national- and state-levels in the United States. Methods First, nine algorithmic approaches are compared to assess the best performance in predicting cleared homicides country-wise, using data from the Murder Accountability Project. The most accurate algorithm among all (XGBoost) is then used for predicting clearance outcomes state-wise. Second, SHAP, a framework for Explainable Artificial Intelligence, is employed to capture the most important features in explaining clearance patterns both at the national and state levels. Results At the national level, XGBoost demonstrates to achieve the best performance overall. Substantial predictive variability is detected state-wise. In terms of explainability, SHAP highlights the relevance of several features in consistently predicting investigation outcomes. These include homicide circumstances, weapons, victims' sex and race, as well as number of involved offenders and victims. Conclusions Explainable Machine Learning demonstrates to be a helpful framework for predicting homicide clearance. SHAP outcomes suggest a more organic integration of the two theoretical perspectives emerged in the literature. Furthermore, jurisdictional heterogeneity highlights the importance of developing ad hoc state-level strategies to improve police performance in clearing homicides.
... However, some crime scenes provide scarce information: for example, it may be impossible to identify the victim, there may be no physical evidence or witnesses, or the motive may not be clear. Under these circumstances, the characteristics of the crime appear to have a particularly significant impact on the probability of solving the homicide (Riedel, 2008). Thus, the murderer's choices (e.g., attacking a marginalised victim in an isolated and unfrequented location, altering, moving, or hiding the victim's body, cleaning the crime scene, destroying the victim's identifying documents) may influence the success of the investigation, and by extension, the probability of being arrested. ...
Article
The objective of this study was to identify the factors associated with the duration of criminal investigations and determine whether these factors influence the seriality of sexual murderers. To this end, data on the investigation of 62 sexual homicides (homicides committed by a serial sexual murderer = 24; homicides committed by a nonserial sexual murderer = 38), were analyzed. Organized behaviors, typical of serial sexual murderers, were not all associated with a longer criminal investigation. However, it was possible to develop a model of the duration of investigations, and predict the seriality of sexual murderers, by taking into account the decisions of murderers and investigators.
... Literature examining the system and factors affecting the "clearing" of homicides in the United States has been adequate and varied (Carter & Carter, 2016;Jiao, 2007;Riedel, 2008;Roberts, 2015). Homicide is commonly considered the most serious of offenses, so efforts to prevent it or solve these cases more efficiently are well researched in criminal justice literature. ...
Article
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The study examined Florida law enforcement agency homicide investigation practices previously identified in the literature as best (or most frequent). Departments handling at least 25 homicides per year and those that handle fewer were surveyed, a comparison not previously examined. The agencies had similar clearance rates. Smaller agencies and those handling fewer homicides tended to use an outside agency for crime scene services, did not have a cold case function, were less likely to use a computerized case management system, and did not view public cooperation as a barrier to homicide investigations to the degree that larger agencies did.
... In the literature, two extensive reviews were found on factors influencing the clearance of homicide investigations [19,20]. Although many factors are discussed, most of them are beyond the control of homicide investigations (like the gender or race of the victim). ...
Article
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Homicide investigators in the digital era have access to an increasing amount of data and the processing of all persons of interest and pieces of evidence has become nearly impossible. This paper describes the development and evaluation of a case-specific element library (C-SEL) that can be used to incorporate and prioritize persons of interest in homicide investigations. In a survey, 107 experts in the field of criminal investigation assigned an initial score to the elements. Each element was extended with underlying factors that can be used to adjust the initial score based on the relevance and credibility of the source. A case study was conducted using three Dutch real-world cases to evaluate the methodology. The results look promising and are better than four methodologies currently used in practice.
... These figures represent the proportion of violent incidents for which an arrest is made, reflecting a continuous and striking decline during the past five decades (Braga & Dusseault, 2018;Jarvis & Regoeczi, 2009;Wellford & Cronin, 2000). Research findings show that more than 90% of U.S. homicides were cleared in 1960 (Ousey & Lee, 2010); currently, however, that figure hovers at or near 60% (Braga & Dusseault, 2018;Jarvis & Regoeczi, 2009;Ousey & Lee, 2010;Regoeczi, Kennedy, & Silverman, 2000;Riedel, 2008). Historically, much of the violent crime in the United States has been concentrated in disadvantaged communities of color (Krivo & Peterson, 1996;Krivo, Peterson, & Kuhl, 2009;Sampson & Wilson;1995;Ulmer, Harris, & Steffensmeier, 2012), socioeconomically distressed urban settings where African Americans disproportionately reside (Peterson & Krivo, 2010). ...
Article
Research Summary We conducted face‐to‐face interviews with 50 young Black men, residents of high‐crime neighborhoods in Brooklyn and the Bronx, individuals who had considerable knowledge about illegal gun markets and the resulting bloodshed. Our findings confirm that distressed milieus reliably fail to produce cooperative witnesses as a result of the cumulative impact of anti‐snitching edicts, fear of retaliation, legal cynicism, and high‐risk victims’ normative views toward self‐help. Policy Implications Disadvantaged communities of color typically have low fatal and nonfatal shooting clearance rates in part as a result of poor witness cooperation. Diminished clearance rates have also been shown to intensify minority residents’ claims that officers do not care about keeping them or their neighborhoods safe. Respondents’ accounts identify three overlapping areas instructive for informing public policy: (1) reducing gun violence so that high‐risk individuals live in objectively safer areas, (2) using intermediaries to launch grassroots campaigns countering pro‐violence and anti‐snitching norms, and (3) improving police–minority community relations.
... The belief that criminal suspects with a criminal record have the same likelihood of arrest as suspects lacking a criminal record also appears to lack merit when one contemplates the abundance of research showing that a multitude of factors plays a salient role in explaining the use of the arrest sanction. For example, some studies identify situational factors that pertain to characteristics of the criminal suspect (Brown, 2005;D'Alessio & Stolzenberg, 2003;Kochel et al., 2011;Lytle, 2014;McCamman & Mowen, 2018;Riedel, 2008;Schulenberg, 2015;Visher, 1983), attributes of the victim (Smith et al., 1984), elements of the immediate situation (Brown, 2005;O'Neal et al., 2019;Smith & Visher, 1981), and legal aspects (Smith & Visher, 1981) as being influential in predicting whether a criminal suspect is arrested by police. Other studies find the characteristics of individual police officers (Mbuba, 2018;Rosenfeld et al., 2018), the organizational structure and policies of police departments (Eitle et al., 2005;Mourtgos et al., 2018), or aggregate community factors (Gase et al., 2016; as significant predictors of the arrest. ...
Article
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A unique dataset is analyzed to investigate the effect of a criminal suspect's prior criminal record on the probability of arrest. Multivariate logistic regression results show that a criminal suspect with a prior criminal record is approximately 29 times more likely than a suspect without a criminal record to be arrested by police. While findings also reveal that Black suspects and Black suspects with a prior criminal record do not have an enhanced proclivity of arrest, Black suspects with a prior criminal record who target White victims are almost three times more apt to be arrested. When juxtaposed with the finding in the baseline model of a substantive relationship between a suspect's race and the likelihood of arrest absent the control for prior criminal record, our results suggest that any correlation evinced between a criminal suspect's race and the likelihood of arrest without controlling for the suspect's prior criminal history may be spurious due to omitted variable bias.
Article
Against the backdrop of the precipitous decline in urban homicide clearance over the past several decades, this study examines factors that may be linked to within-city, over-time variation in homicide clearance rates from 1980 to 2000. Conceptual arguments focusing on case-level characteristics of homicides as well as the broader macrosocial context are delineated and empirically tested. Results from a fixed-effects regression analysis reveal that changes in clearance rates are linked to changes in the situational characteristics of murder incidents such as the percentage of cases involving strangers, firearms, other felonies, and arguments. In addition, within-city changes in immigration are found to be associated with lower clearance rates, whereas drug market arrests are associated with higher clearance rates. Contrary to politically popular assertions, clearance rates do not appear to be a function of changes in police personnel or workload.
As the Hispanic population in the USA grows, studies illustrate the importance of extending dichotomous examinations of race in criminal justice research. The current study seeks to build on this growing body of scholarship. Using data from the 2008 National Incident-Based Reporting System, we examine if victim race and ethnicity affects police clearance of nonlethal violent crimes (sexual assault, robbery, aggravated assault, and simple assault). We draw on the victim-devaluing perspective as well as perceptions of police legitimacy in the Hispanic community to explain our results. Findings indicate that the race and ethnicity of the victim are related to police clearance of cases although the relationship between clearance and case solvability factors is stronger.
Article
In Donald Black's 1994 work The Social Structure of Right and Wrong, he introduces the intriguing concept of the self-application of social control. According to Black, the ‘social control of the self’ follows the same principles of the behavior of law. Conceptualizing a guilty plea as a self-application of social control, this study of 717 homicide cases processed in an urban American court represents the first empirical test of this theory. Support for Black's theoretical perspective was mixed, with only the predictions regarding the effects of social morphology on the self-application of social control finding support. Defendants who were less socially integrated than their victims were significantly more likely to plead guilty when compared to other case configurations. When relational distance between parties was low, the case was significantly less likely to be resolved with the self-application of social control in the form of a guilty plea. The importance of Black's perspective for elucidating the theoretical linkages between social structure and individual behavior is considered.
Article
Although Americans are less likely to experience violent crime as they age, research interest in elderly victims of violence is growing. An initial question that has been overlooked concerns how best to measure “elderly.” In the homicide literature, the most common definition is a single category of age 65 and older. With U.S. adults living longer, healthier, and more active lives, use of a single category may no longer adequately capture this heterogeneous population. The present study explores how a multiple-category definition of elderly might inform the study of homicide by identifying patterns that could promote more tailored explanations.
Article
This article describes homicide-suicide among those aged 65 years and older in the United States using archival data from 1968 to 1975. Comparisons were made between 184 homicide-suicides and 400 randomly selected victims of all other types of homicide. The findings indicate that homicide-suicides occurred predominantly in the family unit, especially involving female spouses, and among White victims and offenders. Handguns and other firearms were the weapon of choice in homicide-suicides.
Article
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Police use a variety of techniques in their investigation of serious violent crimes, such as homicide, robbery, assault and sexual assault. This paper systematically reviews experimental and quasi-experimental research on the effectiveness of these investigative techniques. Meta-analysis was used to combine effect sizes across multiple studies examining the same technique, crime and outcome. Eighteen studies on 10 broad categories of investigative techniques were identified, with the largest number of studies examining specialised investigative techniques for sexual assault and the collection or testing of DNA and other physical evidence. While there were some promising findings, findings were mixed and, in some areas, there is limited evidence on which to draw strong conclusions. Given the significant investment of police resources in the investigation of serious violent crime, the results highlight the need for more methodologically rigorous empirical research on both new and established investigative techniques available to law enforcement.
Article
This work explores the decline in murder clearances through arrest in Chicago from 1965 through 2015, specifically focusing on the most recent time period since 2001. The findings suggest that clearance by arrest has decreased significantly, that elapsed time is a limited factor in clearing more murders through arrest and that factors associated with clearance by arrest in Chicago have changed over time. These results lead to a discussion on the missing variance that cannot explain murder clearance by arrest as well as future research areas that can explore why many murderers in Chicago are increasingly escaping the justice system.
Article
According to the organized-disorganized model, organized sexual murderers adopt specific behaviors during the commission of their crimes that contribute to avoiding police detection. The current study examines the effect of sexual murderers' organized behaviors on their ability to both delay and/or avoid police detection. Using a combination of negative binomial and logistic regression analyses on a sample of 350 sexual murder cases, findings showed that although both measures of delaying and avoiding detection are positively correlated, different behavioral patterns were observed. For instance, offenders who moved the victim's body were more likely to avoid detection but the victim's body was likely to be recovered faster. Moreover, victim characteristics have an impact on both measures; however, this effect disappears for the measure of delaying detection once the organized behaviors are introduced. Implications of the findings are discussed.
Article
Cyberbullying continues to receive growing research attention, but much of this work focuses on prevalence estimates. Little is known about responses to these incidents. The present study relies on traditional theoretical explanations as a basis for modeling predictors for reporting to authorities and police clearance of cyberbullying using two national data sources. Initial support is obtained for the importance of incident seriousness and solvability characteristics for cyberbullying reporting and clearance. These findings suggest the utility of traditional theory to explain responses to cyberbullying, and also highlight a need for measures tailored to the cyber context to comprehensively test such models.
Article
Factors that are both within and outside of police discretion can pose challenges to solving homicides generally. There has been little study of no-body homicides, nor why some remain unresolved. This analysis compares solved and unsolved no-body homicides in Australia using Pearson’s chi-square tests of independence. Coroners’ findings, case law, and media reports from 1983 to 2017 were examined. Cases (N = 55; 42.4% solved) differed based on the victim’s age, who reported them missing, reward money, Coronial inquests, who determined homicide, availability of evidence and confessions, suspects lying, establishing crime scenes, and motivations.
Article
Homicide investigation is among the most prestigious and challenging undertakings in modern day law enforcement agencies. Most metropolitan police departments assign the investigation of suspicious deaths to a dedicated homicide unit staffed by an elite group of specially trained and highly competent investigators. These units are commonly associated with close-knit cultures, high individual and collective expectations, and high status within the organisation. Drawing upon roughly 300 hours of ethnographic work within the homicide unit of a major metropolitan police department in the US, this paper provides insight into how homicide investigators construct their occupational identities within the context of their work environment. A 4-part typology of homicide detective identities emerged from the data with one’s primary motivation for solving cases and general approach to investigative work shaping membership outcomes. The theoretical and policy implications that follow are considered, especially the way that detectives orient to their work and its potential impact on homicide casework and clearance levels.
Chapter
This chapter considers the definition, measurement, trends, and factors associated with the solving (clearing) of a homicide. While the research literature on this topic is limited, it has begun to help us understand the role that law enforcement can play in successfully investigating homicides. This research suggests ways to improve the rates of case solutions that are being implemented in police departments and are in need of better evaluations. The underlying theme of this chapter is that police matter in solving homicides, and that the research base for their best practices needs to be significantly improved.
Chapter
Purpose – This chapter uses preventive and responsive policing strategies in tandem to develop a multi-level theory that explains the relationship between the police and violence. Design/methodology/approach – The chapter brings together classical scholarship and more recent sociological research to demonstrate that an effective response to violence is critical in upholding the state’s monopoly on violence and that police officers can reduce violence by preventing it and responding to it. Findings – Theoretical and practical evidence support the balanced use of responsive and preventive policing strategies to reduce violence. Findings from the literature are used to argue that (1) when law enforcement officers do not effectively respond to violence and/or crime prevention strategies are nonexistent in a community, neighborhood crime is increased and (2) when citizens do not perceive law enforcement officers as legitimate and effective agents of authority, they become more likely to engage in violent offending (Tonry, 1995; Tyler, 2006). Originality/value – Research has supported the effectiveness of “proactive” (Braga, Papachristos, & Hureau, 2014; Weisburd & Telep, 2014) and “reactive” (Nagin, 2013; Paternoster, 2010) policing strategies in reducing violence, but no research has combined strategies of prevention and response to explain the relationship between the police and violence. The theory proposed in this chapter demonstrates the utility of explaining the instrumental and legitimacy functions of the police across various levels and brings under-protection to the forefront of research on policing and violence.
Article
Police use of violence may threaten police agencies’ effectiveness by reinforcing residents’ legal cynicism and disengagement from police. We examined police lethal violence against Black people and its relationship with clearance by arrest in a sample of Black victims’ crime incidents in over 350 jurisdictions in 2015, via Mapping Police Violence and the National Incident‐Based Reporting System (NIBRS). We calculated each crime incident's unique time‐varying exposure to police lethal violence, with an accompanying agency‐level measure that averaged this incident‐level measure. Under our original measures, multilevel survival analysis showed a statistically significant association with clearance for the agency‐level average exposure measure, but not for the time‐varying incident‐level exposure measure. Subsequent exploratory analyses suggested a possibly shorter‐lived relationship with incident‐level police lethal violence exposure, which should be investigated in future research. Agency‐level findings encourage the adoption of reforms in policing practices and organizational characteristics that could enhance police legitimacy and citizen cooperation and promote perceptions of procedural justice in the Black community. Exploratory indications of a shorter‐lived relationship between police lethal violence and clearance will, if supported in further research, call for agencies to think carefully about adjusting detective work and resource allocations during the critical period following a police lethal violence event. A negative relationship between clearance rates and police lethal violence suggests a mutual interest of police agencies and activists in the reduction of police lethal violence.
Article
Full-text available
One perspective on homicide clearance by arrest argues that clearance is influenced by police discretion based on victim characteristics. Another suggests that immediate situational characteristics, related to physical evidence and information, are more important in clearing homicides. Using event history analysis, this study examined the effects of victim and situational characteristics on homicide clearance for 1579 murder incidents from the 2002 National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS). Unlike the logistic regression approach typically used in murder clearance research, event history analysis considers the length of time to clearance, increasing the accuracy of estimates. The current analysis found that incidents with female or younger victims were more likely to be cleared. Also, homicides with victims involved in drug- and gang-related activities were more likely to be cleared. However, the significant impact of victim characteristics disappeared after controlling for situational variables related to physical evidence, information, and witnesses. Situational characteristics such as under-the-influence offenders, non-stranger offenders, contact weapons, and concomitant serious offenses significantly increased the odds of homicide clearance.
Article
Full-text available
Japan maintains near-perfect homicide clearance rates (around 95%, compared with roughly 60% in the United States). This study explored possible explanations for higher homicide clearance rates in Japan than in the United States. Using recent (2000 to 2004) official summary statistics, this study found that Japanese homicides contain a higher proportion of “easy-to-clear” cases, including those with nonfirearm weapons, family member offenders, and child (and not teenager or young adult) victims, than do American homicides. Also the Japanese categorization of homicides in official statistics includes cases favorable to clearance (attempted homicide) and excludes cases unfavorable to clearance (robbery-homicide). These findings suggest caution in attributing Japan's higher homicide clearance rates exclusively to police effectiveness or citizen–police cooperation. Suggestions for future multivariate research are also discussed.
Article
Full-text available
This study uses data from the National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS) to explore the impact of model selection on determining the association of victim-level and incident-level factors to the likelihood of homicide clearance. We compare both traditional operationalizations of clearance rates as well as the time to clearance as dependent variables in examinations of correlates of solvability in homicide cases. Using a different approach than most other analyses of this problem, the results affirm the consistency of some effects but also reveal some important differences when the aspect of time is factored into the model. Implications for analyses of efficiency and effectiveness of police response to homicide, cold-case analyses, and other strategies for solving crime are discussed.
Article
This paper examines the role of the police as news sources in Canada. Analysis focuses on the ways in which the police patrol the regions of their organization to which journalists can have access, and on the forms of enclosure they effect over knowledge about their activities. The analysis builds upon theoretical foundations laid by Goffman and Giddens regarding privacy and revelation, illustrating that their social psychological formulations can be extended to the organizational and sociological levels. A typology is developed to distinguish police practices in back region enclosure (secrecy), back region disclosure (confidence), front region enclosure (censorship), and front region disclosure (publicity). Journalists' efforts to overcome the spatial, social and cultural barriers erected by the police are delineated. Consideration is given to the ways in which journalists police the police: how news texts 'play back' into the police organization and affect relations and practices there, including renewed efforts to patrol the facts. The process is shown to be equivocal and problematic, respecting the fact that information is the most difficult thing to guard because it can be taken without leaving its place.
Article
This research explores the utility of Black's theory of law for explaining differences in homicide clearance rates across large cities in the United States. Using insights from the social disorganization literature, we develop and evaluate hypotheses regarding homicide clearance rates and aggregate measures of stratification, morphology, culture, organization, and alternative social control. Our findings support the argument that the rate of clearing homicide cases varies according to the social characteristics of the location where they occur. In particular, clearance rates were highest in cities marked by greater racial disparities in education, income, employment, and residence; greater residential stability; higher levels of educational attainment; higher expenditures for educational programs; and lower rates of homicide. We discuss the implications of our analysis for both the social disorganization literature and Black's theory, and we suggest directions for further inquiry into the relationship between structural conditions in urban areas and homicide clearance rates.
Article
In The Behavior of Law, Black (1976) sets forth a theory of law that he argues explains variations in law across societies and among individuals within societies. Black argues that law can be conceived of as a quantitative variable, measured by the number and scope of prohibitions, obligations and other standards to which people are subject. Law varies, according to Black, with other aspects of social life, including stratification, morphology, culture, organization, and social control. Many of Black's principal propositions regarding the quantity of law are tested in this paper with National Crime Survey data on the victim's decision to report a crime to the police. An alternative model that views the quantity of law as depending largely on the gravity of the infraction against legal norms is posed and tested against Black's theory. The data are generally inconsistent with the propositions derived from The Behavior of Law and strongly suggest that a theory attempting to explain the criminal law cannot ignore the gravity of the infraction against legal norms.
Article
Theories based on static and simplistic conceptions of the social significance of race fail to account for anomalous research findings and confuse our understanding of race-related outcomes. To substantiate this argument, an analysis is presented of the effects of changing conceptions of race and drugs on sentencing outcomes during a modern anti-drug crusade. This crusade involved a compromise between conservative and liberal impulses in which "big dealers" were identified as villains, while middle-class youth and nonwhites (but the latter only insofar as they were rarely big dealers in a racially stratified drug trade) were reconceived as victims. The results of our contextualized analysis allow us to make sense of otherwise anomalous findings and suggest that while there may be a trend toward equality in American criminal sentencing, there are also patterns of differential leniency and severity that can only be revealed when changing conceptions of race and crime are taken into account.
Article
The percent of offenders arrested for murder in the United States has declined in all reporting cities from 92% in 1960 to 66% in 1997. This paper evaluates three sources of evidence that account for the decline in homicide arrests: police-based programs; changes in the character of homicides; and community and social factors. In the final section we suggest a view of homicide as self-help and explore third party behavior in relation to police cooperation, fear of retaliation, and type of homicide.
Article
From 1960 to 1992, the percent of murders cleared by arrests in the United States has steadily declined from 93 percent to 65 percent. Previous research has focused on characteristics of police officers, police organizations, or third party participation in violence. The present study examines clearances from the viewpoint of victim and event characteristics and patterns of missing data. The data were drawn from the Victim Level Murder file maintained by the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority and consisted of 3,066 single victim murders in Chicago from 1987 through 1991. Results indicated that murders involving concomitant felonies were cleared substantially less frequently than nonfelony murders. This relationship was not affected by victim race, gender, or weapon used. There was interaction between victim age, murder circumstances and clearances. Analysis of missing data patterns suggested those cases lacking information on murder circumstances may involve both felony and nonfelony murders.
Article
Very little attention has been devoted to studying factors associated with how quickly murders are cleared. This dearth of knowledge is mainly due to a lack of available data, especially at the national level. Currently the Uniform Crime Reporting Program is undergoing a large-scale conversion from its traditional summary system form of data collection to the National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS). One benefit of NIBRS is that it enables law enforcement agencies to report incident-level clearance information, including the incident and clearance dates. The present study utilizes NIBRS data to compare characteristics of homicides that are cleared quickly with those cleared over a longer period of time and those that are not cleared. Findings from this exploratory study confirm the conventional belief that murders are cleared quickly if at all, as a large drop in the percentage of cleared cases is observed one week after a murder occurs. The present research also suggests that incident characteristics play a dynamic role in predicting not only whether a murder is cleared, but how quickly. These findings provide new insights for studying clearance and suggest policy implications.
Article
Homicide clearance rates in the United States have been steadily declining from the 1960s through the 1990s. Our study asks: (1) Are the factors commonly identified in homicide clearance research as being related to clearances consistent across time? (2) Can these factors shed light on the decline in homicide clearance rates during the past three decades? (3) How are community area characteristics related to clearances across time? Using Chicago data from 1966 to 1995, we find that the factors vary across time and space in terms of statistical significance and magnitude of their relationships. Specifically, the increasing significance of victim's race and firearm usage may account for some of the decrease in homicide clearance rates. Community area characteristics enhance our understanding of homicide clearances, although to a lesser extent than the victim and situational characteristics of a homicide case.
Article
This is an exploratory study of exceptional clearances using homicide data from Chicago from 1988 through 1995. The focus of the analysis is on homicide cases in which the offender is detained by police, but later released because the prosecution refuses to prosecute. On the basis of a bivariate and logit analysis, it appears that cases barred to prosecution predominately involve either domestic altercations or other types of altercations.
Article
Few studies examine homicide clearances despite trends across many jurisdictions that show a decrease in homicides cleared each year. This study addresses that research gap using Chicago homicide data from 1991 to 2002 to identify predictive factors in homicide clearances. Across five logistic regression models we found that victim and incident characteristics were significant predictors of homicide clearances, although the number and types of significant predictors were varied across the analyses. Moreover, we found differences in the factors that significantly predicted clearances for three specific homicide circumstances: expressive, instrumental, and gang-related.
Article
Beginning in the 1960s, there has been a marked decline in clearance rates of homicides, a finding that has generated little interest among criminological researchers. This article presents a comparative analysis of homicide clearance in Canada and the United States using data generated by the Canadian Centre of Justice Statistics and the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation's Supplementary Homicide Reports. Using logistic regression, homicide clearance is predicted on the basis of specific victim and offense characteristics for cases in Canada versus the United States and in Ontario versus New York State. The results indicate that the model is a good fit for homicide clearance in both countries as a whole. Whereas the homicide weapon, circumstances surrounding the offense, age, and gender of the victim were found to be significant homicide clearance predictors in New York State, only the circumstances surrounding the offense emerged as an important predictor in Ontario.
Article
One limitation with the Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program’s Supplementary Homicide Report (SHR) is its failure to indicate whether a particular murder has been cleared. As a result, researchers using the SHR must rely on proxy measures to study clearance at the national level. Currently, the UCR Program is undergoing a large-scale conversion from its traditional summary system and SHR to the National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS). One benefit of NIBRS is that it enables law enforcement agencies to report incident-level clearance information. Although NIBRS provides a new and important source of clearance information, researchers have largely ignored these data. The present study provides an initial examination of the NIBRS murder clearance data. Specifically, these data are used both to evaluate clearance predictors and to assess the validity of the proxy clearance measures previously used with the SHR.
Article
This article explains the two-decades-long decline in the intimate partner homicide rate in the United States in terms of three factors that reduce exposure to violent relationships: shifts in marriage, divorce, and other factors associated with declining domesticity; the improved economic status of women; and increases in the availability of domestic violence services. The authors' explanation is based on a theory of exposure reduction that helps to account for the especially pronounced decline in the rate at which married women kill their husbands. The authors test the theory with data from a panel of 29 large U.S. cities for the years 1976 to 1992. The results of the analysis are generally supportive of our exposure-reduction theory. The authors consider the importance of the results for subsequent research on intimate partner homicide and call for further evaluation of the efficacy of legal responses to domestic violence.
Article
There exist two competing perspectives regarding the factors affecting homicide clearances. Black’s theory of law (1976) argues that police may use some discretion in clearing homicide cases based on the social characteristics of victims and the areas in which the crime occurs. Conversely, Marvin Wolfgang (1958), Gottfredson and Hindelang (1979), and David Klinger (1997) argue that homicide is the most serious crime and all police work equally diligently to clear every case, regardless of who the victim is or where the crime occurs. Hierarchical generalized linear modeling (HGLM) of multilevel Chicago data from 1989 to 1991 are used to test the competing hypotheses. Consistent with previous research, results indicate a lack of support for Black’s theory of law in the context of homicide clearances, with a few noticeable exceptions. Cases with Latino victims are less likely to be cleared by arrest than those with White victims and cases are more likely to be cleared in communities with higher homeowner rates. However, these results may be more indicative of the extent of useful witness information provided to police than it is of police discretion.
Article
Scholarly study of the factors affecting homicide clearances is at the same point as scholarly study of police patrol officers more than 50 years ago. In particular, major organizing frameworks provide fundamentally contradictory images, and only a handful of multivariate studies exist. The present research partially remedies these problems by advancing a more complete conceptual framework and then by using that framework to guide multivariate analysis of the factors affecting the clearance of 802 homicides in Columbus, Ohio, between 1984 and 1992. Consistent with the more complete conceptual framework, there is strong support for the argument that the visibility of homicide and the singular importance of homicide clearances cause homicide detectives to work aggressively to clear all homicides irrespective of where they occur or the characteristics of homicide victims. Also consistent with the framework, the authors find no support for previous arguments that detective experience and workload affect homicide clearances.
Article
Only a few studies have disaggregated homicide rates by relationship type or gender, with little investigation of homicide trends in adult marital and other intimate relationships. The current study documents patterns of homicide between opposite gender relational partners for the twelve years of 1976 through 1987 based on Supplementary Homicide Report Data, comparing rates between couples in marital and nonmarital relationships. Analyses reveal that the homicide rate for married couples declined somewhat during this period, although the drop in the rate of wives killing husbands was greater than the drop in the rate of husbands killing wives. However, homicides involving unmarried couples followed a very different pattern. Whereas the lethal victimization rate for men in unmarried relationships varied unsystematically over time from 1976 through 1987, the rate of unmarried women being killed by their male partners increased significantly. Findings demonstrate the importance of disaggregating homicide data by gender and relationship type so that crucial differences can be detected.
Article
The volume's 19 chapters and 2 appendices summarize the author's research in his sociological analysis of criminal homicide in which he used Philadelphia as a community case study. "Analysis has been made of 588 criminal homicides listed by the police in this city between January 1, 1948, and December 31, 1952. A critical review of the important homicide literature in this country is provided, and whenever feasible, comparison is made of criminal homicides in Philadelphia with research elsewhere." Consideration is given to such problems as alcohol, motivation, temporal and spatial patterns. 4 chapters discuss the relationship between the victim and the offender. This sociological work is held to be of major interest for the criminologist and the police administrator. 20-page references. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Article
The recent renaissance of ecological research in criminology has brought with it a renewed interest in the relationship between crime and social control in local communities. While several researchers have noted that the police are a critical part of the community crime-control puzzle, there is very little research and no theory that addresses variation in police behavior across physical space. In an attempt to further understand police operations in local communities, this article offers a theory that explains how levels of crime and other forms of social deviance in communities affect police action. The article concludes with a discussion of the implications of the theory for understanding how police behavior varies across physical space and how crime patterns develop and are sustained in local communities.
Article
While clearance rates of homicides have declined over the last three decades, there still remains limited research on the topic. In recent studies, scholars had argued that legal factors best explained homicide clearance. They stated that extralegal variables that had proven to be important and significant for explaining other processes in the criminal justice system were not as helpful in explaining homicide clearance. This article challenges those findings. Utilizing multiple regression and event history analysis techniques, this article shows that extralegal variables such as the gender and race or ethnicity of the victim affect the likelihood of clearance and time needed for solving the murder. The research examined all homicides committed in Los Angeles County from 1990 through 1994. Findings demonstrated that some victims “received more law,” as Donald Black argued, and that not all victims' lives were equally valued.
Sources of Homicide Data: A Review and Comparison
  • Riedel
  • Marc
Riedel, Marc 1999. 'Sources of Homicide Data: A Review and Comparison.' Pp. 75–95 in
Notes on the Murder of Thirty of My Neighbors' [Electronic Version] Atlantic OnlineProsecutorial Discretion in Requesting the Death Penalty: A Case of Victim-Based Racial Discrimination
  • Myers
  • Jim
Myers, Jim 2000. 'Notes on the Murder of Thirty of My Neighbors' [Electronic Version]. Atlantic Online, March. Retrieved November, 2006 from http://www.theatlantic.com/issues/ 2000/03/myers.htm. Paternoster, Raymond 1984. 'Prosecutorial Discretion in Requesting the Death Penalty: A Case of Victim-Based Racial Discrimination.' Law & Society Review 18: 437–78.
Arrest Clearances for Homicide: National and International Comparisons
  • Marc Riedel
Riedel, Marc 2007. 'Arrest Clearances for Homicide: National and International Comparisons.' Presentation at the 4th International Conference on Law. Athens, Greece.
Questioning US arrest statistics [Electronic Version
  • S Christianson
Christianson, S. 2006. Questioning US arrest statistics [Electronic Version]. Christian Science Monitor. Retrieved November, 2006 from http://www.november.org/stayinfo/breaking06/ ArrestStats.html Criminal Justice Statistics Center 2007. Crime in California 2006. Sacramento, CA: State of California.
Homicide in Australia
  • Mouzos
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