Article

Gender Difference or Indifference? Detective Decision Making in Sexual Assault Cases

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Abstract

Prior research examining sexual assault case decision making has failed to account for the demographic characteristics of the criminal justice practitioners charged with making case decisions. Inclusion of such information is important because it provides researchers with a greater understanding of how criminal justice practitioners' own gender, race, age, and past experiences affect their judgments. This study seeks to examine whether gender differences exist in detectives' arrest decisions in sexual assault cases. Victim, suspect, incident, and detective characteristics are collected from police case and investigatory files on 328 criminal sexual assault cases involving adult female victims reported to a large Midwestern police department in 2003. Logistic regression is used to determine whether detective gender predicted the odds of arrest after controlling for incident, victim, and suspect characteristics. It is hypothesized that cases involving female detectives would be more likely to result in arrest after controlling for other incident, victim, and suspect characteristics. However, contrary to expectations, female detectives are significantly less likely than male detectives to arrest suspects in sexual assault cases even after controlling for the influence of other factors shown to predict arrest. The findings support prior research that suggests female practitioners may not necessarily be more sensitive toward female victims despite previous assumptions that this would hold true. The findings suggest that efforts to hire female police officers for the purposes of dealing with female-related victimization may ultimately undermine efforts to improve victim experiences with the criminal justice system. They further suggest that both researchers and police administrators need to rethink the best ways to serve female victims beyond hiring mandates.

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... To address this issue, practitioners and advocates have called for improved responses to sexual assault cases (Feild, 1978), encouraging scholars to study the correlates of practitioner decision-making (Bouffard, 2000;Kerstetter, 1990;Kingsnorth, MacIntosh, & Wentworth, 1999;LaFree, 1981). Practitioner decision making studies have focused largely on victim, suspect, and case characteristics, as well as practitioner evaluations of victim credibility to explain decisions (Alderden & Ullman, 2012b;Beichner & Spohn, 2005;Beichner & Spohn, 2012;B. Campbell, Menaker, & King, 2015;Kaiser, O'Neal, & Spohn, 2017;O'Neal, Beckman, & Spohn, 2019;Spohn, Beichner, & Davis-Frenzel, 2001;Spohn & Tellis, 2019). ...
... Indeed, largely using samples of reported sexual assault, scholars have analyzed relevant characteristics linked to decision-making and have found practitioners relied on both case and extralegal characteristics. Existing literature on the impact of case and extralegal characteristics have been mixed, however, and some have found availability of physical evidence, presences of witness(es), victim injury, offender weapon use, prompt report of victimization, victim resistance, high assessment of victim credibility, victim substance use, non-white victims, and non-stranger relationships were significantly and positively related to officers' decisions to arrest (Alderden & Ullman, 2012a, 2012bKaiser et al., 2017;O'Neal et al., 2019;Spohn & Tellis, 2019;Tasca, Rodriguez, Spohn, & Koss, 2013;Venema et al., 2021) and prosecutors' decisions to charge (Beichner & Spohn, 2005;Kerstetter, 1990;Spohn & Holleran, 2001;Wentz & Keimig, 2019). Conversely, others found nonsignificant or negative associations between availability of physical evidence, witness(es) availability, victim injury, offender weapon use, prompt report of victimization, victim resistance, high assessment of victim credibility (e.g., no risktaking behaviors, high moral character, no discrepancies in legal statements, no arrest history), victim substance use, non-white victims, and non-stranger relationships and decisions to arrest (Alderden & Ullman, 2012a;Bouffard, 2000;O'Neal et al., 2019;Scott & Beaman, 2004;Spohn & Tellis, 2019;Wentz, 2020;Ylang & Holtfreter, 2020) or charge a suspect (Bouffard, 2000;Holleran, Beichner, & Spohn, 2010;Kerstetter, 1990;Spears & Spohn, 1997;Spohn & Holleran, 2001;. ...
... Perceptual shorthand included suspect and victim race (e.g., non-White and White), the victim consumed alcohol prior to or during incident, the suspect consumed alcohol prior to or during incident, the victim had motive to lie, and the suspect and victim were married. Studies have reported these extralegal characteristics were both significantly related to arrest (Alderden & Ullman, 2012b;Kaiser et al., 2017;O'Neal et al., 2019) and charging (Beichner & Spohn, 2005;Chandler & Torney, 1981;Kerstetter, 1990;, while others reported they were insignificantly related to arrest (Bouffard, 2000;Scott & Beaman, 2004;Spohn & Tellis, 2019;Wentz & Keimig, 2019) and charging (Frazier & Haney, 1996;Holleran et al., 2010;Spohn & Tellis, 2019). Taken together, some empirical evidence exists warranting the use of focal concerns to explain both police and prosecutor decision-making in sex crimes. ...
... Using these sexual assault reports, researchers collect data by reviewing case files and coding for relevant variables linked to decision-making outcomes (e.g., victim and suspect demographics, victim-offender relationship, criminal histories, drug/substance use, evidence availability, weapon used, victim report time, victim injury, victim verbal and physical resistance, suspect use of force). Of such studies, most sampled cases occurred prior to 2010 (Alderden & Ullman, 2012a, 2012bBouffard, 2000;Kaiser et al., 2017;O'Neal et al., 2019;Scott & Beaman, 2004;Smith, 2005;Spohn & Tellis, 2019;Tasca et al., 2013), whereas fewer samples cases (see Morabito, Williams, & Pattavina, 2019;Venema et al., 2019;Wentz, 2019;Wentz & Keimig, 2019;Ylang & Holtfreter, 2019). Additionally, a large portion of studies used samples from Los Angeles (Kaiser et al., 2017;O'Neal et al., 2019;Spohn & Tellis, 2019;Ylang & Holtfreter, 2019) and Midwestern cities (Alderden & Ullman, 2012a, 2012bVenema et al., 2019;Wentz, 2019;Wentz & Keimig, 2019), while others sampled cases from Arizona (Tasca et al., 2013), Maryland (Smith, 2005), Canada (Scott & Beaman, 2004), and undisclosed urban/suburban/rural locations (Bouffard, 2000;Morabito et al, 2019b). ...
... Of such studies, most sampled cases occurred prior to 2010 (Alderden & Ullman, 2012a, 2012bBouffard, 2000;Kaiser et al., 2017;O'Neal et al., 2019;Scott & Beaman, 2004;Smith, 2005;Spohn & Tellis, 2019;Tasca et al., 2013), whereas fewer samples cases (see Morabito, Williams, & Pattavina, 2019;Venema et al., 2019;Wentz, 2019;Wentz & Keimig, 2019;Ylang & Holtfreter, 2019). Additionally, a large portion of studies used samples from Los Angeles (Kaiser et al., 2017;O'Neal et al., 2019;Spohn & Tellis, 2019;Ylang & Holtfreter, 2019) and Midwestern cities (Alderden & Ullman, 2012a, 2012bVenema et al., 2019;Wentz, 2019;Wentz & Keimig, 2019), while others sampled cases from Arizona (Tasca et al., 2013), Maryland (Smith, 2005), Canada (Scott & Beaman, 2004), and undisclosed urban/suburban/rural locations (Bouffard, 2000;Morabito et al, 2019b). Studies also differed based on sample age, where some studies used juvenile and adult cases (Kaiser et al., 2017;O'Neal et al., 2019;Scott & Beaman, 2004;Smith, 2005;Spohn & Tellis, 2019) and others only analyzed data derived from cases involving adult victims (Alderden & Ullman, 2012a, 2012bWentz, 2019). ...
... Additionally, a large portion of studies used samples from Los Angeles (Kaiser et al., 2017;O'Neal et al., 2019;Spohn & Tellis, 2019;Ylang & Holtfreter, 2019) and Midwestern cities (Alderden & Ullman, 2012a, 2012bVenema et al., 2019;Wentz, 2019;Wentz & Keimig, 2019), while others sampled cases from Arizona (Tasca et al., 2013), Maryland (Smith, 2005), Canada (Scott & Beaman, 2004), and undisclosed urban/suburban/rural locations (Bouffard, 2000;Morabito et al, 2019b). Studies also differed based on sample age, where some studies used juvenile and adult cases (Kaiser et al., 2017;O'Neal et al., 2019;Scott & Beaman, 2004;Smith, 2005;Spohn & Tellis, 2019) and others only analyzed data derived from cases involving adult victims (Alderden & Ullman, 2012a, 2012bWentz, 2019). ...
Article
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Sexual assault and case attrition at the arrest stage are serious problems in the United States. Focal concerns have increasingly been used to explain police decision making in sexual assault cases. Because of the popularity of the focal concerns perspective and potential to inform evidence-based training, a systematic review and meta-analysis are needed to condense the literature. In this study, we assess the overall strength of the relationship between focal concerns variables and police decisions to arrest in cases of sexual assault. Our assessment of the effects of focal concerns variables on arrest decision making in sexual assault cases followed the systematic review protocols provided by the Campbell Collaboration of Systematic Reviews. Specifically, we used the Campbell Collaboration recommendations to search empirical literature and used meta-analysis to evaluate the size, direction, and strength of the impact of focal concerns variables on arrest decisions. Our search strategy detected 14 eligible studies and 79 effect sizes. The meta-analysis found several robust and statistically significant correlates of arrest. In fact, each focal concerns concept produced at least one robust arrest correlate. Overall, focal concerns offers a strong approach for explaining police decisions in sexual assault cases. Although practical concerns and resource constraints produced the strongest arrest correlates, results show the importance of additional case characteristics in officers’ decision to arrest.
... When victims agree to move forward with legal action, attrition is often first influenced by the discretionary power held by the police. Police use their discretion in determining how to address reports of sexual assault, including the decision to make an arrest (Alderden and Ullman 2012;LaFree 1981;Tasca et al. 2013), and which cases to move forward for prosecution (Frazier and Haney 1996;Gregory and Lees 1996;Horney and Spohn 1996). ...
... As the "gatekeepers" to the criminal justice system (Kerstetter 1990), the police dictate the workload for the entire criminal justice system. While there is abundant research on prosecutors' acceptance of cases and trial outcomes for sexual assaults, fewer studies have examined the effects of police discretion (Alderden and Ullman 2012;Horney and Spohn 1996;LaFree 1981;Rose and Randall 1982;Tasca et al. 2013). This limited body of research has focused on the unfounding of cases (Gregory and Lees 1996;Kerstetter 1990;Soulliere 2005;Spohn et al. 2014;Tellis and Spohn 2008), the decision to arrest a suspect (Alderden and Ullman 2012;LaFree 1981;Tasca et al. 2013) or the decision to forward cases on to prosecutors for review Kelley and Campbell 2013). ...
... While there is abundant research on prosecutors' acceptance of cases and trial outcomes for sexual assaults, fewer studies have examined the effects of police discretion (Alderden and Ullman 2012;Horney and Spohn 1996;LaFree 1981;Rose and Randall 1982;Tasca et al. 2013). This limited body of research has focused on the unfounding of cases (Gregory and Lees 1996;Kerstetter 1990;Soulliere 2005;Spohn et al. 2014;Tellis and Spohn 2008), the decision to arrest a suspect (Alderden and Ullman 2012;LaFree 1981;Tasca et al. 2013) or the decision to forward cases on to prosecutors for review Kelley and Campbell 2013). These studies have found both legal and extralegal variables to be influential in the decisions made by the police. ...
Article
Full-text available
Research on sexual assault case attrition spans from the decision of victims to report the incidents and cooperate with police during investigations through the final case disposition in the courtroom. However, few studies have focused on how police discretion influences attrition at the points of arrest and case referral. The current study examines factors of adult sexual assaults reported to the police to determine which legal and extralegal factors were predictive of arrest and which variables were predictive of police decisions to refer cases to prosecutors for consideration. The results of this study showed victim cooperation and evidence significantly predicted arrest and referral, along with variables which measured the seriousness of the case and victim credibility. The findings confirmed both legally relevant and extralegal variables were important considerations during each decision-making point. Implications arising from these results are discussed.
... Legal factors that increase the likelihood of arrest in sexual assault cases include witness presence, victim resistance, the victim's willingness to cooperate, and the suspect's use of a weapon (Alderden & Ullman, 2012aBouffard, 2000;Dawson & Dinovitzer, 2001;Kernstetter, 1990;LaFree, 1981LaFree, , 1989Spohn & Tellis, 2014). Recently, Alderden and Ullman (2012b) examined arrest decisions in sexual assault cases. They found that the presence of a witness was significantly related to arrest in sexual assault cases. ...
... Extralegal factors that have been found to influence police arrest decisions in sexual assault and IPV cases include whether the victim engaged in behavior that could be interpreted as damaging to her credibility (e.g., alcohol consumption), the victim/suspect relationship, the victim/suspect living arrangement, detective gender, forensic examination refusal, the suspect's demeanor toward police, the suspect's alcohol and drug use, and victim preference (Alderden & Ullman, 2012b;Bouffard, 2000;Feder, 1998;LaFree, 1981;Lally & DeMaris, 2012;O'Neal, et al., 2016). Recently, Alderden and Ullman (2012b) examined the police decision to arrest in sexual assault cases and found that the likelihood of arrest decreased by 57% in cases where victims refused to undergo a forensic medical exam. ...
... Extralegal factors that have been found to influence police arrest decisions in sexual assault and IPV cases include whether the victim engaged in behavior that could be interpreted as damaging to her credibility (e.g., alcohol consumption), the victim/suspect relationship, the victim/suspect living arrangement, detective gender, forensic examination refusal, the suspect's demeanor toward police, the suspect's alcohol and drug use, and victim preference (Alderden & Ullman, 2012b;Bouffard, 2000;Feder, 1998;LaFree, 1981;Lally & DeMaris, 2012;O'Neal, et al., 2016). Recently, Alderden and Ullman (2012b) examined the police decision to arrest in sexual assault cases and found that the likelihood of arrest decreased by 57% in cases where victims refused to undergo a forensic medical exam. In addition, the authors found that male law enforcement officials were more likely to arrest in sexual assault cases, with the odds of arrest increasing in cases involving intimate partners, relatives, or acquaintances. ...
Article
Law enforcement officials and prosecutors have been called " gatekeepers " of the criminal justice system, as their discretionary decisions determine case outcomes. Using the focal concerns perspective as our theoretical foundation, we explore the factors that influence arrest and charging decisions in intimate partner sexual assaults (IPSA) reported to Los Angeles law enforcement in 2008. Quantitative findings are supplemented with qualitative examples from Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) detectives interviewed in 2010 and charge evaluation sheets from complaints referred to Los Angeles prosecution in 2008. Attempting to expand its theoretical relevance, we develop an alternative conceptualization and operationalization of the focal concerns perspective that is more appropriate to IPSA cases. Findings suggest that arrest decisions are motivated by suspect blameworthiness, community protection, and practical constraints and organizational consequences. In addition, charging decisions are influenced by community protection and practical constraints. Extralegal factors did not influence decision making. Directions for future research are discussed.
... 18 [11] Studies on gender roles generally demonstrate that men are considered to be more agentic (such as self-reliant and ambitious) while women tend to be more communal (such as interdependent and caring for others). 19 [12] The existence and awareness of stereotypes influence individual behaviour, and these stereotypes are reinforced through daily interactions because of the adjustment made by individuals in order to comply with these stereotypes. The different standards of judgment used when comparing each gender also makes it more difficult to eradicate the entwined stereotypes. ...
... 34 [18] Therefore, the concern over confirming the gender stereotypes result in lower expectations and anxiety and then lead to worse performance; thus unintentionally reinforce the stereotypes. 35 [19] ...
... Although victims are targets of assault, individuals (including police officers) are often unsympathetic toward their experiences. Indeed, complainants who engage the CJS are often met with skepticism and suspicion (Alderden & Ullman, 2012;Holmstrom & Burgess, 1978). ...
... The suspicious attitudes of law enforcement officers toward SA victims may result from the combination of job role (Alderden & Ullman, 2012), the hypermasculine environment of police organizations (Franklin, 2007), and societal beliefs about rape (see Jordan, 2004;Page, 2008). Regarding job role, police are tasked with examining the "facts" and identifying the "truth" (Alderden & Ullman, 2012, p. 6), resulting in officers drawing on past experiences, training, and informal organizational socialization when navigating their responsibilities. ...
Article
Scholars, advocates, and victims have repeatedly criticized the police treatment of sexual assault (SA) complainants. Apathetic attitudes and hostile behavior on the part of the police have likely resulted from socialization into a culture that condones the use of force and violence and blames SA victims for their victimization. Using data from in-depth semistructured interviews with 52 Los Angeles Police Department sex crimes detectives, we examine officer attitudes toward teenage complainants of SA. Notably, almost three fourths of the respondents ( n = 38; 73%) mentioned that teenagers lie about SA. Practical implications, theoretical advancements, and directions for future research are discussed.
... However, between half and two thirds of cases 'drop-out' of the system during the investigative stage (Brown, Hamilton, & O'Neill, 2007;Kelly, Lovett, & Regan, 2005), leading a number of researchers to highlight the possible impact of negative attitudes held by police officers on both victim experience (Alderden & Ullman, 2012;R. Campbell, Wasco, Ahrens, Sefl, & Barnes, 2001) and case progression (Hohl & Stanko, 2015;Spohn & Tellis, 2012). ...
... As such, it can be assumed that officers who are 'high' in RMA utilise negative attitudes when making such judgements, and that these same officers may make important investigative and case processing decisions based on those same beliefs. Such observations are particularly important considering that police officers act as gatekeepers to the criminal justice system (Sleath & Bull, 2015), and may, in part, explain why cases with rape-myth related characteristics have a lower chance of progressing through the criminal justice system (Hohl & Stanko, 2015;Spohn & Tellis, 2012) and why victim-survivors report frequently report negative interactions with officers (Alderden & Ullman, 2012;R. Campbell et al., 2001). ...
Article
Purpose: Previous studies suggest that officers' level of rape myth acceptance (RMA) is predictive of their case decision making and judgements towards victim-survivors. However, few studies have directly assessed the relationship between RMA and responsibility and authenticity judgments. Methods: 808 UK police officers categorised as ‘high’ or ‘low’ in rape myth acceptance made judgements of victim and perpetrator responsibility, and case authenticity, towards one of 16 vignettes depicting a hypothetical rape scenario varying on victim-perpetrator relationship, victim reputation, and initial point of resistance. Results: Officers categorised as ‘high’ in RMA rated victims as more responsible, perpetrators as less responsible, and cases as less authentic than those deemed to be ‘low’ in RMA. When rape-myth related factors were present, both individually and in combination, judgements by officers ‘high’ in RMA were more negative than those ‘low’ in RMA. Conclusions: Results suggest that officers ‘high’ in RMA may judge victims of rape differently to those ‘low’ in RMA, particularly when rape myth-related extra-legal case factors are present. The potential implications for training and selection are discussed.
... Alderson and Ullman found male detectives were more likely to charge suspects over female detectives with all others things being equal. Their study also helped confirm some earlier thoughts that women detectives may treat female sexual assault victims more harshly than male detectives which results in worse processing outcomes for the victim (Alderson & Ullman, 2012). Alderson and Ullman attacked the notion that an agency will be more sensitive to the needs of women victims if more female detectives work there, because it assumes that being a female has more influence on attitudes than being a member of a criminal justice organization (Alderson & Ullman, 2013). ...
... Arguments that sex crimes units should be staffed with more females under the premise as a group will be more sensitive to female victims may do more harm than good (Alderden & Ullman, 2012). Selecting detectives just because they are female assumes they have an interest in working sexual offenses when they may not which may result in problematic outcomes (Alderson & Ullman, 2012). Agencies should focus more on sexual assault training and partnering with victim advocates than gender of the detectives. ...
Article
This meta-synthesis literature review is a qualitative analysis that looked at the problem that relatively few public safety employees hold four-year college degrees. This research focused on analyzing and synthesizing primary studies related to the general and specific benefits of higher education for police officers, firefighters and emergency medical services personnel and their respective employers. Where other research has been limited to law enforcement this research looked at the fire service and emergency medical services (EMS). It was discovered that research and data relative to higher education for firefighters and fire officers is limited and virtually non-existent with regards to (EMS) personnel. The analysis revealed some potential unintended consequences of college degrees. Legitimate concerns were revealed with regard to requiring college degrees for new public safety applicants including limiting the applicant pool and potential disparate impact on minorities. However, there is strong evidence to suggest there are many general and specific benefits, for public safety employees and their employers to be derived from a higher education. Some of the benefits include being less likely to smoke, more likely to exercise, more civic participation, more open minded, innovative, ethical, tolerant and diverse, better use of discretion, improved communication and problem solving, fewer citizen complaints and less authoritarian. Evidence suggests the best approach may be to make college degrees a preferred qualification as opposed to a minimum required qualification for new hires and to incentivize employees to obtain college degrees post-hire and to require college degrees for promotion. Keywords: Associate, Bachelor, College Degree, Higher Education, Public Safety, Fire, Police, EMS
... Although research on RMA in general populations has concluded that in general, females endorse fewer rape myths than males (Suarez & Gadalla, 2010;Temkin & Krahé, 2008;Ward, 1995;Wentz & Archbold, 2012), research is mixed regarding the relationship between gender and RMA among police officers (Alderden & Ullman, 2012b;Brown & King, 1998;Jordan, 2002;Martin, 2005;Rich & Seffrin, 2012). Jordan (2002) found that RMA among female police officers was just as pervasive as that of male police officers and argued that organizational culture, socialization, and peer pressure may influence personal attitudes, and in police work, for example, individual attitudes may be more reflective of a work referent group than the referent group of one's gender. ...
... In a more recent study, Wentz and Archbold (2012) found qualitative evidence that female officers endorse rape myths and victim blaming more than male officers; however, no differences existed within quantitative results. Alderden and Ullman (2012b) found that female detectives were significantly less likely than male detectives to arrest suspects in sexual assault cases. In contrast, other studies have presented findings in the opposite direction, with female police officers accepting fewer rape myths (Brown & King, 1998;Martin, 2005;Rich & Seffrin, 2012). ...
Article
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This study examines police officers' perceptions of sexual assault and those who report sexual assault to the police, using a revised version of the Rape Myth Acceptance Scale along with a measure of social desirability bias. The study includes survey responses from 174 officers from 1 mid-sized police department in the Great Lakes region. Results show low to moderate levels of rape myth acceptance scores on the Rape Myth Acceptance Scale, with highest scores related to victim lying. Officers report very high estimates of false reporting, indicating some rape myth acceptance. Officer level of education, rank, and estimates of false reporting influence rape myth acceptance; however, social desirability bias is an important explanatory factor. Implications for measurement and training are discussed.
... Though 'solved, ' many of these incidents (33.5% of all cases or 73% of the cleared cases) did not actually result in an arrest, but instead were cleared 'by exceptional means' and no arrest was made. Research conducted with police agencies across the US documents that between 12 and 45% of cases reported to the police will result in an arrest (Alderden and Ullman 2012;Bouffard 2000;Spohn and Tellis 2012). ...
... Existing research on police discretion suggests that the police decision to arrest for sexual assault offenses can be influenced by a variety of legal and extralegal factors that are largely related to the incident (Tasca et al. 2012). These legal and extralegal factors can affect the outcomes of sexual assault cases (Alderden and Ullman 2012;Kerstetter 1990;Spohn and Tellis 2012). Legal factors are those that indicate evidence of a crime (i.e., witnesses, weapons used, or physical evidence) as defined by statute. ...
Article
The underreporting of sexual assault is well known to researchers, practitioners, and victims. When victims do report, their complaints are unlikely to end in arrest or prosecution. Existing research on police discretion suggests that the police decision to arrest for sexual assault offenses can be influenced by a variety of legal and extra-legal factors particularly challenges to victim credibility. Although extant literature examines the effects of individual behaviors on police outcomes, less is known about how the accumulation of these behaviors, attributions, and characteristics affects police decision making. Using data collected from the Los Angeles Police Department and Sheriff's Department, we examine one police decision point-the arrest to fill this gap in the literature. First, we examine the extent to which the effects of potential challenges to victim credibility, based on victim characteristics and behaviors, influence the arrest decision, and next, how these predictors vary across circumstances. Specifically, we examine how factors that challenge victim credibility affect the likelihood of arrest in sexual assault cases where the victim and offender are strangers, acquaintances, and intimate partners.
... Though 'solved, ' many of these incidents (33.5% of all cases or 73% of the cleared cases) did not actually result in an arrest, but instead were cleared 'by exceptional means' and no arrest was made. Research conducted with police agencies across the US documents that between 12 and 45% of cases reported to the police will result in an arrest (Alderden and Ullman 2012;Bouffard 2000;Spohn and Tellis 2012). ...
... Existing research on police discretion suggests that the police decision to arrest for sexual assault offenses can be influenced by a variety of legal and extralegal factors that are largely related to the incident (Tasca et al. 2012). These legal and extralegal factors can affect the outcomes of sexual assault cases (Alderden and Ullman 2012;Kerstetter 1990;Spohn and Tellis 2012). Legal factors are those that indicate evidence of a crime (i.e., witnesses, weapons used, or physical evidence) as defined by statute. ...
... Similarly, additional studies on police officers (Venema, 2018) did not show any considerable difference in the acceptance of myths between men and women, although there has been recorded that female officers may subscribe to rape myths more than male officers (Wentz & Archbold, 2012). As Alderden and Ullman (2012) predicated in their study of criminal sexual assault cases, female police officers (detectives) may not necessarily be more sensitive than male officers toward female victims of sexual offenses. Against this backdrop, the present chapter ventures to decipher the relationship between gender, age, and education level of police officers and rape myth acceptance, and the findings presented below seek to cast some light to this effect. ...
Chapter
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This chapter is based on a survey involving 220 police officers. The latter’s attitudes and views on rape and rape myths are measured via the Illinois Rape Myth Acceptance Scale. Overall, it is discovered that police officers do not embrace the full package of mythology surrounding the phenomenon of rape. Moreover, female officers, as opposed to male, appear to bear more sensitivities toward victims of rape. The findings discussed in the chapter resonate with findings recorded overseas and in other police organizations, attached to and influenced by different settings and dynamics.
... As a result, citizen allegations of misconduct may reflect the confidence (or lack of confidence) civilians have in the complaint process (Pate, Fridell, and Hamilton 1993;Walker 1997). Other critics oppose the use of complaints as a measure of police misconduct due to over-reporting (Adams 1995). While these criticisms are valid, it is also important to point out that there is limited data available for researchers to use when they study police misconduct; thus, we must utilize whatever data is available to us. ...
Article
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This study examines if and how the promptness of reporting internal and external police misconduct influences the disposition and discipline of misconduct investigations. Data were collected from one midwestern agency. In all, 306 allegations of police misconduct spanning 12 years were collected. In addition to promptness, this study controlled for relevant police officer, complaint, and evidentiary characteristics. Although the promptness of reporting police misconduct did not influence either the disposition or discipline of the investigation, the analyses uncovered several statistically significant relationships between the independent and dependent variables. Examining the disposition, a complaint was more likely to be sustained in interactions involving one officer. In addition, internal complaints of misconduct were more likely to be sustained than complaints filed by citizens. Investigations that did not have video recordings to review were more likely to result in a sustained complaint. Regarding discipline, results showed that interactions with one officer were less likely to yield serious discipline. This is the first study to examine whether promptness in reporting police officer misconduct influences the investigation of police misconduct.
... Despite increased awareness of victimization issues, society's attitude toward victims of sexual assault is often inadequate, reflected in victim stigmatization and blaming (e.g., Areh et al., 2009;Van der Bruggen & Grubb, 2014). Such an attitude is particularly worrisome in the context of police interrogation, as it might result in additional trauma for the victim and increase the risk for secondary victimization (Alderden & Ullman 2012;Patterson, 2011;Shaw et al., 2017). While all victims of sexual assault suffer physical and emotional trauma, some might be more susceptible than others to negative police attitudes and behaviors. ...
Article
Women who are sex workers are at high risk of being victims of sexual violence. Yet research suggests that their claims of victimization are not taken seriously enough and largely go unbelieved by the police. The current study goes beyond the issue of victim credibility to examine police officer blame attributions and judgments toward rape victims and offenders. Two-hundred and twenty police officers read a description of the rape of a young student who was either a sex worker or not. After reading the description, participants reported their perceptions of blame toward the victim and offender, as well as their perceptions of victim resistance, consequences of rape to the victim, and feelings toward the victim. Deserved punishment for the offender was also reported. The findings indicated that police officer attributions of victim-blaming were more prominent toward the sex working victim, and they assessed the consequences that she suffered as less severe. Male officers were more biased than female officers in blame attributions toward the offender, manifested in lower levels of blaming as well as in supporting more lenient sanctions, and specifically when the victim was a sex worker. Negative sentiment toward the victim was indicated, especially among male officers, which also adhered more than female officers to the idea that the victim could have resisted the attack. The findings are interpreted within the contexts of rape myths and stereotypes and unique characteristics of the police subculture. Possible implications for the investigation of rape victims and cases are discussed. The importance of the findings is highlighted by recent data indicating that sex working may be a relatively common phenomenon among young normative students.
... Negative and victim-blaming attitudes on the part of the police might increase reluctance of victims to report NCII offenses and cooperate with police investigation. They might also result in additional trauma to the victim and secondary victimization (Alderden and Ullman, 2012). As with victims of other sex offenses, victims of NCII suffer emotional trauma, loss of trust, and feelings of shame and humiliation, which render them especially vulnerable to negative experiences with the criminal justice system. ...
Article
Full-text available
Non-consensual dissemination of intimate images (NCII) is a major concern in many countries. The increase in the number of NCII cases and awareness of its adverse effects on victims has raised public awareness, with many states enacting legal and non-legal measures to combat this new type of violence. Yet, despite recent legislation, there is a reason to suspect that the majority of NCII cases remain unreported. Thus, research is needed on law enforcement perceptions of victims and identification of victim-blaming attitudes and factors that might affect legal decision-making. The present study addressed this issue by focusing on Israeli police officer perceptions of NCII victims and offenders: 145 police officers and 160 students, who served as a control group, were presented with a scenario depicting an NCII offense in which the stolen intimate material was either self-generated by the victim (selfies) or stealth-taken by the victim’s ex-boyfriend. In both cases, the stolen images were disseminated by the ex-boyfriend without the victim’s permission. The findings indicated victim-blaming attitudes toward NCII victims within law enforcement as well as an effect of the source of stolen images. Although officers perceived NCII as criminal and the offender as highly culpable and punishable, they engaged in victim-blaming. This was especially the case for the self-taken scenario, which elicited negative feelings and less empathy toward the victim. The relevance of emotions in legal contexts is emphasized in light of their contribution to the participants’ punitive judgments. Victim-blaming in NCII offenses and its implications are discussed, and suggestions are made for how to reduce negative and victim-blaming attitudes among law enforcement.
... It should also be noted that the school administrators who responded negatively to Alicia were men, whereas Brooke received a positive response from the woman department chair at her place of employment. Though we cannot draw firm conclusions from this exploratory data, we recommend gender differences in employer and coworker responses as an avenue of future research, especially given that previous research on informal support sources shows that female friends respond most positively to sexual assault disclosure, though formal sources show no gender differences (Alderden and Ullman 2012). Future research could also see how gender and workplace context may interact to result in different disclosure responses to sexual assault. ...
Article
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Sexual assault results in psychological, physical, and financial consequences for survivors. The distress caused by sexual assault can lead to work-related consequences such as loss of productivity, lost wages, or a decline in job performance. Work-related consequences or other assault-related factors may lead survivors to disclose to someone in their workplace. Research has examined help-seeking, disclosure, and social reactions, but has neglected to study disclosure and social reactions in survivors’ places of employment as well as the impact of workplace social reactions on survivor recovery. Using a community sample of interviews with 28 sexual assault survivors, we explored the experiences of workplace disclosure among a subsample of 6 survivors who disclosed in the workplace. Specifically, we explored survivors’ reasons for disclosure, the social reactions received, and how this affected their recovery using thematic analysis. Results reveal that workplace disclosure is driven by feeling like they had no choice but to disclose or lose their job, akin to the concept of compelled disclosure. Survivors received positive and negative social reactions that affected their recovery and employment status. We conclude with a discussion of implications for research, workplace policy, and employer practices based on our findings. With preliminary findings suggesting that compelled disclosure may apply to the workplace context, we make recommendations for further research on workplace disclosure with a more diverse sample of survivors from a variety of workplaces. Future research should also consider the role of institutional betrayal when examining workplace responses to survivors.
... Though this aligns closely with the central tenets of representative bureaucracy theory, only one such study has examined the relationship between street-level gender representation and highly gendered outcomes. Alderden and Ullman (2012) reviewed the investigative files of 328 sexual assault cases reported to a large jurisdiction in the American Midwest. Interestingly, their findings show that despite maintaining individual authority over the process, female detectives were less likely to arrest criminal suspects than their male colleagues. ...
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This article considers the extent to which the gender of police officers affects the likelihood that a pedestrian will be frisked following a Terry stop. Theories of social equity, organizational diversity, and representative bureaucracy are used to develop several testable hypotheses. Results suggest that the presence of female police officers correlate with lower levels of racial and ethnic disparity in the distribution of frisks conducted by police in the City of Seattle. Further, our analysis suggests that stops initiated by female reporting officers reduce male–female disparities on the probability of being frisked. Results are discussed in terms of both theory and practice.
... For example, in sexual assault cases, officers are influenced by schemas that exist in both societal and police culture about what constitutes consent, "real rape," and the view that ambiguous or false claims are a common occurrence (Chen & Ullman, 2010;Du Mont, Miller, & Myhr, 2003;Venema, 2016). Factors that are a hindrance to effective law enforcement response toward victims include the belief that certain reports are a waste of police resources (as with false rape claims), that there is not enough evidence of a crime, or that the victimization experience was not a "true" crime incident (Alderden & Ullman 2012;Ask, 2010;Venema, 2016). Researchers have also shown that police consider certain reactions and behaviors to be "typical" for crime victims, and those responses may not align with the reactions and behaviors of victims of interpersonal violence (Ask, 2010). ...
Article
The police have a duty to provide assistance to crime victims. Despite the importance of this role, scholars examining police effectiveness have historically been less attentive to the needs of victims. As the police are increasingly called on to combat sex and labor trafficking crimes, it is timely to explore how this new population of victims is served by the police. Information from a review of human trafficking investigations and in‐depth interviews with police and service providers in three U.S. communities indicates that human trafficking victims often do not trust the police and rarely seek their assistance. When the police do respond, human trafficking victims seek affirmation of their experiences and safety from future harm. Recommendations are offered to improve police responses to human trafficking victims including efforts to build trust, promote victim safety, and meet the needs of victims outside of the justice system.
... Sleath and Bull's (2017) systematic review shows some studies demonstrating male police officers blame rape victims at a higher level compared to female police officers and other studies that have not found gender effects. Alderden and Ullman (2012) looked at a large Mid-Western Police Department to find no differences between male and female detectives' likelihood of making an arrest in cases of sexual assault and women officers were not necessarily more sensitive towards victims. They propose that introducing more women alone to investigate may not bring about improved outcomes for complainants. ...
Article
This paper presents an overview of current trends besetting the police service in England and Wales, including the reduction of resources through austerity pressures, changing patterns of crime such as rises in cyber-related offences, greater victim focus, the introduction of graduate entry and changes in political accountability through the newly elected Police and Crime Commissioners. Secondary analysis of data enabled an assessment of the degree to which these impacts the employment and deployment of women in policing. As the gender ratio changes and reforms facilitate styles of policing with greater emphasis on the ethic of care it might be expected this will reflect more feminine values. The conclusion drawn is that the impacts of feminisation are somewhat overstated and remain rather fragile.
... These perceptions may lead male victims to remain even more silent (in comparison with females), and reluctant to report their sexual assault to the police for fear of being stigmatized as homosexual or of jeopardizing their masculine self-identity (Davies et al. 2009a; Shechory Bitton and Ben Shaul 2013). The term secondary victimization has been used to describe the additional trauma experienced by rape survivors as a result of victim-blaming attitudes and behavior manifested by community service providers, including the police (Alderden and Ullman 2012;Patterson 2011;Shaw et al. 2016). ...
Article
This study compared male and female Israeli police officers (n = 242) and undergraduate students (n = 273) in their perception of myths about male and female rape and the association between these myths and social attitudes toward gender roles. The results indicated that men were more likely to subscribe to myths about male and female rape, and that police officers accept myths about female rape more than students of either gender. Analysis of the regression findings shows that gender role stereotypes significantly predict acceptance of rape myths among both men and women. The implications of these findings are discussed.
... In addition to victim cooperation, successful prosecution of sexual assault cases results from a combination of factors including victim characteristics, such as indicators of credibility, and case factors, such as crime severity. Police officers consider numerous legal and extralegal factors when determining whether (or not) to arrest sexual assault suspects (Alderden & Ullman, 2012b;LaFree, 1981;Spohn & Holleran, 2001). Legal factors are those expected to influence decision-making, such as evidentiary strength; extralegal factors include legally irrelevant characteristics, such as the reputation of the victim. ...
Article
Research finds that “problematic” victim behaviors—for example, alcohol consumption—influence sexual assault case outcomes. Questions remain, however, regarding officer perceptions of what constitutes a problematic victim and how these victims complicate case processing. Indeed, most case processing research has relied on quantitative methods and inquiry into officer attitudes has primarily relied on the use of vignettes. Using data from in-depth interviews with 52 Los Angeles Police Department sex crimes detectives, we examine attitudes toward problematic victims. Overall, we aim to determine whether rape culture beliefs and efforts to operate in a “downstream orientation” influence detective views regarding victims who have been deemed problematic.
... Despite generally low levels of rape myth acceptance in officers, the influence of such extra-legal factors (i.e. peripheral information not directly associated with the transgression of a law) on police officer decision making in rape cases has been subject to increasing scrutiny, with good reason (Alderden & Ullman, 2012;Hohl & Stanko, 2015;Spohn, White, & Tellis, 2014). For example, studies demonstrate that officers identify and use a wide variety of case factors in determining case legitimacy, many of which are built directly on myths about rape (Venema, 2016b). ...
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Efforts to understand rape myth acceptance (RMA) as a cognitive framework in police, unifying key cognitive/attitudinal and demographic factors into one coherent model, are lacking. Using a cross-sectional survey design, predictors of RMA were assessed by linear hierarchical regression, including demographic (age, length of service, gender, experience of specialist rape investigation training) and attitudinal factors (hostility towards women, sexist attitudes, and explicit power/sex beliefs) among officers from a large U.K. police force (N = 912). The final model explained 44% of variance in RMA. Gender and previous specialist training significantly predicted RMA, but to a much lesser extent than attitudinal variables, which explain 42% of RMA variance. Only specialist rape investigation training remained significant when attitudinal variables were added. The greater contribution from attitudinal variables suggests that efforts to address RMA in officers must consider the broader attitudinal structures underpinning RMA. Findings highlight implications for evidence-based training for rape investigators.
... Furthermore, scientists play unique and important roles in producing knowledge about rape (Rutherford 2017). They are tasked with determining the incidence and prevalence of rape (Breiding et al. 2014;Muehlenhard et al. 2017;Tjaden and Thoennes 2000), identifying factors that promote or deter individual risk or communal rates of perpetration and victimization (Abbey 2011;Armstrong, Hamilton, and Sweeney 2006;Gervais, DiLillo, and McChargue 2014;Hines et al. 2012), and evaluating prevention and response efforts (Alderden and Ullman 2012;Coker et al. 2011;McMahon 2014;Morrison et al. 2004). Service providers and state officials may request, challenge, or draw from scientific research to improve on their own efforts to address rape. ...
Article
Sexual violence is a multifaceted problem with individual, interpersonal, institutional, and cultural dimensions. Researchers have increasingly turned to social institutions, such as nonprofit agencies, in their efforts to understand and ultimately prevent aggression and victimization. Drawing on interviews with 30 scientists and other scholars, this study explored sexual violence researchers’ experiences with and approaches to collaborating with local communities and institutions. Participants shared diverse experiences working with institutionalized and noninstitutionalized local communities, antiviolence advocates and social workers, medical providers, police, attorneys, employees of bars and restaurants, educators, and university administrators. Many noted that the commitments that motivate researchers may be insufficient for engaging community partners. The aim of ending violence, in itself, may not be enough. Narratives of trauma, of risk and safety, may not be enough. Concerns about limited resources and potential backlash or liability may dissuade community members and institutions from partnering with researchers in prevention. Distrust may also pose a barrier. Fortunately, researchers have developed promising strategies for engaging institutional partners despite these concerns. These include cultivating mutual partnerships, in which researchers prioritize institutional input and commit to giving back to their partners and surrounding communities; combining awareness and prevention, in which efforts to raise awareness through institutions are coupled with the development of concrete action plans; and reframing the problem, in which sexual violence or its outcomes are connected with established institutional priorities.
... Rather, Stewart argues, both subscribe to gender stereotypes, such as blaming male or drunk victims, over female or sober victims. These and other studies would appear to confirm Alderden and Ullman (2012) claim that 'female practitioners may not necessarily be more sensitive toward female victims despite previous assumptions that this would hold true ' (p. 3). ...
Article
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Interactional justice is concerned with how far victims feel (i) respected by justice officials (‘interpersonal justice’) and (ii) informed about the progress of their case and the justice process overall (‘informational justice’) [Laxminarayan, M., Henrichs, J., and Pemberton, A. (2012). Procedural and interactional justice: a comparative study of victims in the Netherlands and New South Wales. European journal of criminology, 9 (3), 260–275; Laxminarayan, M. (2013). Interactional justice, coping and the legal system: needs of vulnerable victims. International review of victimology, 19 (2), 145–158]. This paper explores the experience of interactional justice for victims of ‘honour’-based violence and abuse (HBVA) who report to the police in England and Wales. HBVA refers to abuse perpetrated with reference to ideas of ‘shame’ and ‘honour’. Semi-structured interviews were carried out with 36 victims of HBVA across England. This paper documents their experience and extends the framework of interactional justice proposed by Laxminarayan et al. (2012). First, we identify intersectionality, in particular, the positions of gender, ethnicity and immigration status within the victim–officer encounter, as central to interpreting the interpersonal experiences of HBVA victims with police. Second, we find that how information is used and delivered can be as important as the content and timeliness of communication. Twenty of our sample of 36 participants were happy with the initial police response, but only 9 were happy with their reporting experience overall. We argue that focusing on HBVA victims’ interaction with justice actors could enable us to understand and improve HBVA victims’ experience of, and satisfaction with, the justice system overall.
... Some evidence indicates that female officers are less accepting of rape myths and are more likely to believe victims compared with their male colleagues (Brown & King, 1998;Page, 2007;Schuller & Stewart, 2000). However, other studies suggest that women officers may be more hostile and less willing than their male counterparts to exercise their discretion to benefit female victims (Alderden & Ullman, 2012;Sleath & Bull, 2012;Wentz & Archbold, 2012). The inconsistent empirical support for gender differences in officers' attitudes and behaviors suggest that other factors may be important in understanding the active translation process. ...
Article
The purpose of this study is to evaluate the theory of representative bureaucracy. Cross-sectional and longitudinal data, covering a period from 1997 to 2013, suggest that a greater number of women in the workforce is related to higher reporting rates for rape incidents and higher clearance rates for rape cases. Furthermore, the findings suggest that the relationship between female representation and women-centered outcomes is moderated by the presence of a union and mediated by resources for victims and community policing. Looking ahead, more research is needed to identify how female representation in policing influences organizational processes and outcomes for citizens.
... Eight studies examined the impact of specialised sexual offence interventions, including: sexual assault examinations ( Alderden 2008;Alderden & Ullman 2012;Bouffard 2000;Heenan & Murray 2007;Kelly 2008); the Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner program (SANE; Kelly 2008; Toon & Gurusamy 2014data from Kelly, 2004& Campbell 2012); and specialist police sex offence units ( LaFree 1981). Sexual assault examination refers broadly to post-assault forensic data collection, otherwise referred to as a rape kit or sexual assault screening. ...
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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.
... Furthermore, victims' opinions and beliefs about how they feel officers will approach their case has a substantial impact on their decision to report (Jordan, 2001(Jordan, , 2004; for example, between 11% and 26% of victims chose not to report because they believed officers: would not believe them, would not act upon the information, and would not be sympathetic (Office for National Statistics, 2015a; Tjaden & Thoennes, 2000). Victims are also particularly susceptible to negative and traumatising experiences with the criminal justice system, specifically related to victim blaming attitudes and behaviour, described as secondary victimization (Alderden & Ullman, 2012;R. Campbell, 1998;R. ...
Article
Purpose Previous studies suggest that judgments of responsibility and authenticity made towards hypothetical rape cases differ when specific case factors are varied. However, few studies have examined whether police officers exhibit similar variations in judgment. Methods Sixteen vignettes depicting a hypothetical rape scenario were created. Vignettes varied on victim-perpetrator relationship, victim reputation, and initial point of resistance. Police officers from a large police force in the United Kingdom (n = 808) provided judgments of victim and perpetrator responsibility, as well as rape authenticity. Results Officers rated perpetrators as less responsible and gave lower rape authenticity ratings when a partner was the perpetrator, and in ‘late’ resistance scenarios. Officers rated victims as more responsible in ‘bad’ reputation conditions and in ‘late’ resistance conditions. Additional effects of officer sex and receipt of specialist training were also found (i.e., male officers rated the victim as more responsible than female officers), as were several interactions between factors. Conclusions Results suggest that police officers in the UK may judge victims of rape differentially based on extra-legal case factors. The potential impact on the investigation of rape cases is discussed, and a recommendation for thorough and prompt review of specialist and non-specialist training is made.
... Despite the legal reforms designed to enhance the likelihood of arrest and prosecution in SA and IPV cases, research consistently finds that attrition in these types of cases remains a problem in the CJS. Research indicates that only one fourth to one third of SA cases reported to the police will end in an arrest (Alderden & Ullman, 2012a, 2012bSpohn & Tellis, 2014). Of those cases presented to the prosecutor for filing consideration, fewer than half will result in felony charges (Alderden & Ullman, 2012a). ...
Article
Extant research overwhelmingly indicates that victim cooperation influences case outcomes in both sexual assault and intimate partner violence cases. However, no studies have examined cooperation decisions in intimate partner sexual assault (IPSA) cases. This study uses data on sexual assaults reported to Los Angeles law enforcement in 2008 to address this issue. Because the contextual factors associated with sexual assault can vary dramatically depending on the suspect-victim relationship, this study estimates a model of victim cooperation that includes factors unique to IPSA. Additionally, the current research discusses how police practices and perceptions likely interact with victim characteristics to affect victim cooperation decisions. Quantitative findings are supplemented with a qualitative analysis of the reasons victims reported for declining to cooperate.
... In regard to actual decision-making outcomes rather than RMA or attributions of blame, Alderden's (2008) study was among the first to include police officer demographic characteristics in the model testing extralegal and evidentiary characteristics in sexual assault case decision making. Alderden and Ullman (2012) concluded that sexual assault cases involving male detectives were more likely to result in arrest. ...
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As research continues to describe negative experiences and high case attrition within sexual assault cases reported to the police, it is important to better understand the role of first-responding police officers. This study surveyed a sample of sworn police officers (N = 174) from one department in a midsized city in the Great Lakes region to examine the effect of individual police officer characteristics, rape myth acceptance (RMA), attributions of blame, and case characteristics from a hypothetical vignette, on officer perceptions of a “good” case and behavioral intentions. Results found that although RMA predicts both perceptions of the case and behavioral intentions to respond in ways indicative of perceived seriousness, RMA is mediated by attributions of suspect blame. Victim alcohol use was found to decrease an officer’s likelihood of responding more vigorously, showing less likelihood of calling a detective or arresting the suspect, if identified. Future research should begin to connect not only case characteristics but also individual police officer characteristics, attitudes, and attributions of blame, with real case outcomes, in addition to hypothetical scenarios.
Article
Using Critical Race Theory and an intersectional framework, the present study focuses on the case processing of sexual assault (SA) incidents involving Black and Latina victims. Importantly, much of the prior literature assessing arrest and charging decisions have been whitewashed by failing to consider that the factors influencing the case progression of white victims’ SA experiences may not appropriately apply to women of Color. Oftentimes, this scholarship merely controls for victim and suspect race without considering how legal and extralegal incident and case factors may operate differently for victims of Color. The present study addresses this oversight.
Article
Some representative bureaucracy literature has suggested that increasing the share of female bureaucrats, particularly in supervisory positions, would not have a substantial influence on producing policy outcomes in favor of female clients because of the potential impact of organizational socialization. However, there has been little empirical investigation into how passive female representation across hierarchical ranks and its interaction influence policy outcomes for women. By analyzing data on 360 local U.S. police organizations in 2013 and 2016, we found that a higher proportion of female officers in first‐line supervisory level positions was negatively linked to arrest performance for rape offenses, while a higher share of female street‐level officers was not significantly linked to arrest performance for the same offenses. However, we noticed a positive interactive effect of the proportion of female street‐level officers and female officers at the intermediate‐level on rape arrests. These results imply that promoting female representation across different hierarchical ranks in police organizations will help to ensure the benefits of representative bureaucracy.
Article
Previous research has examined the influence of individual‐ and case‐level factors on police decisions in sexual assault cases, with little attention paid to community‐level factors. This study examined the association between community‐level factors and police decisions to found sexual assault cases. Founding is the first decision officers make and determines whether a case is investigated. An archival data set of N = 8015 sexual assaults reported to a Midwestern city police department was used. Ordinary least squares (OLS) regression was first used to examine the relationship between six community‐level factors and founding rates within the city's 77 communities. Geographically weighted regression (GWR) was then used to examine whether these relationships varied by space. OLS results revealed communities with a greater proportion of Black residents, Latinx residents, Asian residents, and higher income had significantly higher founding rates. GWR results replicated these findings indicating these relationships varied significantly by space throughout the city. In contrast to the OLS, GWR results indicated communities farther from a rape crisis center had higher founding rates. Findings underscore the importance of analyzing localized effects and examining individual‐, case‐, and community‐level factors on sexual assault case outcomes in the criminal legal system. Space is an important aspect of community context related to police response to sexual assault. Community‐level, extralegal factors appear to influence police founding decisions. Scholars are encouraged to analyze localized effects to better understand community context. Space is an important aspect of community context related to police response to sexual assault. Community‐level, extralegal factors appear to influence police founding decisions. Scholars are encouraged to analyze localized effects to better understand community context.
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Domestic violence (DV) continues is an ongoing costly issue for the criminal justice system, Research indicates the prosecutor's filing decision is important to keeping DV victims safe, but there is little research examining prosecutorial filing decisions in DV cases. This study used focal concerns as a theoretical framework to explore which legal and extra-legal factors impact prosecutorial filing decisions in DV cases. The study utilized data collected from 731 misdemeanor and felony DV cases from an urban County in Florida between January 2017 - December 2018. Two binomial logistic regression models were used to predict the likelihood a DV case would be filed on any charge, filed on a DV specific charge or not filed. Results showed some support for focal concerns but findings suggest that factors impacting this decision vary based upon case severity (i.e. misdemeanor, felony). A weapon present decreased the filing likelihood for misdemeanor cases but victim requests not to prosecute and a public attorney decreased filing likelihood for felonies. The prosecutor's decision to file charges is a powerful tool to keep victims safe and should be based on legal facts and risk of future harm, but here these factors had little to no impact on this decision.
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While research has documented the evidentiary significance of sexual assault medical forensic exams (SAMFEs) to case processing, there has been less focus on SAMFEs’ relevance to extralegal case characteristics. This study, through focus groups with police officers and prosecutors, illuminates the link between two important case processing factors: the SAMFE and perceptions of victim credibility. The majority of respondent narratives about the utility of the SAMFE point to how it strengthens or weakens perceptions of victim credibility. This link points to the SAMFE’s important role in early case processing before investigators send DNA evidence for forensic testing.
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Using five popular rape victimisation cases which occurred during COVID-19 lockdown in Nigeria, this paper shows how the mastery of routines of rape victims by sexual predators enhanced the success of rape victimisation. Elements of routine activity theory such as motivated offender, attractive targets and absence of capable guardianship is used to analyse each case to signpost and underscore the importance and centrality of active capable guardianship to dislodge and neutralise rape offenders’ routine mastery around attractive targets. The paper recommends mounting capable guardianship to checking growing menace of rape in Nigeria. Attractive target should eliminate risky routines and poisonous relationship which could enhance their chances of sexual violation.
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Male-on-male rape remains an under-researched area, and little is known about the characteristics and outcomes of this type of crime. This study examines 122 rape cases involving young adult and adult male victims reported to the London Metropolitan Police Service between 2005 and 2012. Overall, there were a number of similarities with cases involving female victims; however, male cases were more likely to involve strangers, substance use, and a victim with mental health issues, alluding to specific vulnerabilities. Moreover, younger victims, victims with poor mental health, and victims who had consumed alcohol or drugs were less likely to have their cases referred to prosecutors and more likely to be ‘no-crimed’ by police. This paper provides unique insight into the profile and trajectories of male-on-male rape cases, and preliminary recommendations for both police practice and future research are provided.
Article
Justice for sex crimes is particularly complex due to the differences between victim needs and the operations of the criminal justice system. This study, using 70 semi-structured interviews and 2 focus groups from Canadian police departments, shows that Canadian police officers use characteristics from both procedural and distributive concepts of justice when responding and dealing with victims of sex crimes. We show that building trust, inclusion in the process, and upholding individual treatment needs are compelling components of police response that garner victim agency and satisfaction. As a result, victims are more satisfied with the process and outcomes of their cases, and through reconstructing success, so are police officers. Our discussion of a pluralistic approach captures how police officers justify and negotiate distributive and procedural justice in their responses to sex crime victims. Unlike research that focuses on the adverse treatment of victims, this paper finds promising changes in Canadian police officers’ conceptualization of justice for victims.
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Sexual assault case processing has steadily received increased attention from scholars, with promising implications for the criminal justice system. Despite this increase in attention, however, there remains a dearth of literature addressing adolescent sexual assault case processing. Moreover, the few studies that have examined adolescent sexual assault case processing have resulted in inconsistent findings. The present study addresses this gap in sexual assault case processing literature by using adolescent sexual assault case files from Los Angeles County to assess the decision-making factors that influence arrest (N = 205) and initial charge filing (N = 152). Results indicate that decisions to arrest and file initial charges in adolescent sexual assault cases are influenced by similar factors: victim cooperation, physical evidence, prompt reporting, and victim age. Exceptions include suspect age and victim credibility, which only influenced arrest decision making. Theoretical, policy, and practice implications are discussed.
Article
Purpose The purpose of this paper is to explore investigative decision-making processes in the context of major crimes as experienced by the law enforcement agents. Design/methodology/approach Episodic interviews were conducted with six agents from medium-sized police forces in the UK. Following the framework of naturalistic inquiry, qualitative content analysis took place with the assistance of Atlas.ti software. To ensure the validity of findings, the within method triangulation was preferred, by additionally analysing the interview transcripts with Alceste. Findings Findings from this study revealed a variety of internal factors at play, shaping the decision-making course into an act of balancing various desired goals. Detectives appear to assess a situation based on their experiences confirming that the naturalistic decision-making model may assist in understanding investigative decision-making. Research limitations/implications Due to the busy schedule of law enforcement agents the number of participants was limited and availability difficult; therefore, this study can be thought of as a pilot study that will inspire researchers to use the same method for in-depth understanding of investigative decision-making. Practical implications Results captured the ill-defined goals in the police environment and provided ways of decreasing their impact on investigative decision-making thus should help detectives to understand their decision-making limitations and strengths. Social implications This project will enhance the psychological understanding of investigative decision-making. Originality/value This project assists in understanding the psychological aspect of investigative decision-making during police duty and provides the opportunity to law enforcement agents to re-evaluate situations in order to improve the investigative decision-making process; while adds to existing literature.
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Rape victims can benefit from trauma-informed approaches when reporting rape to police. Police interviewing skill can prevent survivor re-victimization while eliciting useful crime statements. However, rape myth acceptance and police culture may pose obstacles to a trauma-informed approach. Client empowerment, demystification, trigger reduction, and expressed concern for victim safety can be implemented by police agencies. Interdisciplinary collaboration, combating sexual harassment, gender balancing, emotional debriefing of officers, accountability to victims, new reporting methods, and advanced training protocols are elements of a trauma-informed approach.
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Forensic science is increasingly used to help exonerate the innocent and establishing links between individuals and criminal activities. With increased reliance on scientific services provided by multi-disciplinary (police, medicine, law, forensic science), and multi-organisational in the private and government sectors (health, justice, legal, police) practitioners, the potential for miscommunication resulting unjust outcomes increases. The importance of identifying effective multi-organisational information sharing is to prevent the 'justice silo effect'; where practitioners from different organisations operate in isolation with minimal or no interaction. This paper presents the findings from the second part of the Interfaces Project, an Australia-wide study designed to assess the extent of the justice silos. We interviewed 121 police, forensic scientists, lawyers, judges, coroners, pathologists and forensic physicians. The first paper published in 2013 presented two key findings: first investigative meetings were rare in adult sexual assault cases; second many medical practitioners were semi-invisible in case decision-making with this low level of visibility being due to lawyers, forensic scientists or police not being aware of the role/expertise medical practitioners offer. These findings led to the development of a flowchart model for adult sexual assault that highlights the range of agencies and practitioners typically involved in sexual assault. The rationale for the flowchart is to produce a visual representation of a typical sexual assault investigative process highlighting where and who plays a role in order to minimise the risk of justice silos. This is the second paper in a series of two.
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Research has long highlighted the importance of complainant credibility in influencing sexual assault (SA) case outcomes. Despite these findings, few studies have investigated the police decision to question a complainant’s credibility. This study uses data on SAs reported to the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) in 2008 to address this issue, specifically focusing on the effects of rape culture. Results suggest that indicators of “real rape” and measures of complainant “character flaws” influence the likelihood that an officer will question a complainant’s credibility. Notably, all indicators measuring officer perceptions of complainant “character flaws”—whether reputation issues were present, the complainant suffered from mental health issues, her testimony was inconsistent, and if the officer believed she had a motive to lie—increased the likelihood that the police would question her credibility. Practical implications, theoretical advancements, and directions for future research are discussed.
Chapter
Gender essentialism has been and still is a key organising principle in the HKP. Its content and expression has certainly broadened and diffused over the past 65 years, largely as a result of changes in the police organisation’s external environment. But gender essentialism, heterosexism and heterosexualism remain central to how the HKP organises its police officers and their work. We argue that the HKP as a gendered organisation has to be understood in terms of the nature of colonial policing and its relevance to the present day. The gender system is tenacious in the HKP because of its inherent systemic qualities and operations, as well as its elective affinity with policing. Policies aimed at narrowing gender differences (e.g. equal pay and arming of policewomen) do not result in real changes in how men and women are deployed and treated in police organisations. Given the tenacity of gender, a fundamental shift in the police organisation’s orientation needs to be in place before real changes can take place.
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This systematic review examined 18 documents that contained information about rape myths/cognitions of police officers with the goal of identifying the factors that influence police officers' beliefs of rape. Past research on sexual offence processing decisions has rarely considered the characteristics of police officers as active participants in the legal decision making process (Alderden & Ullman, 2012); meaning that the factors that directly influence police officers' rape myths and the implications these may have on rape victims' experiences when reporting to the police remain unclear. The current review systematically examines the literature on police officers' rape myth beliefs, and evaluates the current available research regarding, decision-making, victim credibility, police training and experiences, and police gender. It concludes by providing recommendations for policy makers in terms of best practice, continual police training and development and improving rape victims' reporting experiences.
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One of the first people a sexual assault survivor will encounter in the emergency room is a specially trained rape victim advocate. Along with rape victim advocates, many survivors will come across law enforcement in the emergency room. This study explores rape victim advocates perception of how survivors are treated in the emergency room by law enforcement. Data from interviews with 23 female advocates indicate a complex relationship that includes positive interactions with police as well as victim blaming and a lack of knowledge about how sexual assault affects survivors. Suggestions for future research are provided.
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Policing has long been a profession dominated by white males. Yet, the organizational literature suggests that diverse public sector organizations are essential to a well-functioning democracy. Representative bureaucracy theory is the idea that public agencies should mirror the society in which it functions in order to best meet the needs of its citizens. There are three necessary conditions in order for representative bureaucracy theory to be applicable to a problem. First, bureaucrats must have discretion in decision-making. Next, bureaucrats must exercise discretion in a policy area that has important implications for the group they represent. Finally, bureaucrats must be directly associated with the decisions they make. Given that police work requires extraordinary discretion, representation holds great importance for police organizations. There has, however, been scant literature examining the interaction between representation, organizational characteristics of police agencies, and situational characteristics of sexual assault incidents. This paper builds upon previous research regarding the effect of diversity on public safety outcomes. A national sample of police organizations reporting to both LEMAS and NIBRS will be used with specific attention paid to interaction between organizational characteristics, agency innovativeness, and representation.
Chapter
Sexual violence is an omnipresent threat to women’s sexual well-being, physical and mental health all over the world. In addition to the impact of the victimization experience itself, many survivors are faced with negative social reactions when they disclose it to third parties, which amount to a form of secondary victimization and differ from reactions toward victims of other forms of violent crime. Negative reactions and stereotypic judgments about victims of sexual violence can also be found to operate in the legal handling of sexual violence allegations, playing a part in the widely observed “justice gap” for victims of sexual assault. This chapter examines the role of stereotypes and myths about rape in understanding societal responses to survivors of sexual violence. After presenting prevalence rates of sexual assault worldwide, the process of attrition is examined, from the occurrence of a sexual assault to the potential conviction of a perpetrator in a court trial. A large body of international research shows that attrition may be linked to the influence of extra-legal factors, particularly the tendency to blame the victim and exonerate the perpetrator, which reflect socially shared myths and stereotypes about rape. Evidence will be presented showing the impact of rape myths and stereotypes on the handling of rape complaints by members of the criminal justice system and by the general public. The chapter concludes with a review of potential strategies for challenging rape myths and stereotypes and reducing their influence in the criminal justice system.
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Complaint filing is a critical stage in the prosecution of a case, for here prosecutors decide which cases will go on for adjudication by the courts. A significant percentage of sexual assault cases never get beyond this stage in the criminal justice process. This paper examines prosecutorial accounts for sexual assault case rejection. A central feature of these accounts is discrediting the victim's rape allegation with the techniques of finding discrepancies in the victim's story and assuming ulterior motives for reporting the assault. The resources that prosecutors use to develop these techniques are official reports and records, typifications of rape-relevant behavior, and knowledge of the victim's personal life and criminal connections. Prosecutors' accounts reveal the indigenous logic of prosecutors' decisions to reject cases and the organizational structure in which these decisions are situated.
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This aggregate analysis of rape law reform in 48 states complements existing individual-level studies by providing a picture of the nationwide impact of the reforms. A theoretical model of rape law impact is developed, and the effects of several reform measures on official rape rates are examined through multiple regression analyses that control for contextual and etiological factors. The results indicate that rape law reform is for the most part unrelated to rape rates, although there are departures from this pattern. In particular, there are significant effects of an index of definitional reforms and a variable that measures the criminalization of nonconsensual sexual contacts not involving clearly demonstrable force or other extreme circumstances. There are also interactive effects between law reform and contextual variables, as well as direct effects of contextual and etiological variables.
Article
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This study examined how police officers (N = 91) define rape. In the past decade, most states have dramatically reformed their rape laws, shifting the emphasis from the behavior of the victim to that of the assailant. This study provides an exploratory picture of how such reforms have affected police by examining the degree to which there was consistency between officers' personal definitions of rape and state law. Officers were asked to define rape/sexual assault in their own words. These definitions were content analyzed, and hierarchical cluster analysis was performed. Three clusters of definitions emerged. Nineteen percent of the sample described many of the reformed legal factors when defining rape, such as the use or threat of force (Force Definition of Rape). Thirty-one percent focused primarily on penetration and consent (Consent Definition of Rape). Fifty-one percent of the officers provided definitions that mixed old legal definitions with some victim blaming views (Mixed Definition of Rape).
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Although the criminal justice system has undergone reform to eliminate sexual assault case attrition and to improve the overall treatment of sexual assault victims, few studies have examined the effect of these reforms. In this study, the authors examine prosecutorial charging decisions across two unique jurisdictions: Kansas City, Missouri, which utilizes a specialized unit for sexual assault cases, and Miami, Florida, which does not use a specialized unit to determine the effect of prosecutorial specialization on case outcomes. The findings of the study reveal that, despite differences in departmental policies and rates of plea bargaining and trials, prosecutors’ charging decisions and the predictors of charging are similar in the two jurisdictions. The authors conclude that, regardless of whether decisions are made in a specialized unit or not, victim credibility is a real “focal concern” of the prosecutor in sexual assault cases.
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This article reviews issues concerning perceptions of women’s credibility in the context of police responses to sexual assault complainants. It is based on both quantitative and qualitative data drawn from detailed analysis of police rape and sexual assault files. Particular attention is paid to identification of the principal factors affecting police perceptions of rape complainants, addressing such issues as demeanour, intoxication and concealment. Problems arising from the misinterpretation of significant ‘cues’ are identified, and consideration given to possible ways in which miscommunication between rape complainants and police officers occurs. The article argues that many rape complainants must still battle to gain credibility in the eyes of some police investigative officers, and that stereotypically based judgements continue to impact negatively on police perceptions and decision making. The overall aim of the article is to prompt critical, constructive evaluation of police culture and practice in order to enhance the quality of police responses to victims of sexual violence and abuse.
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In this study of prosecutors' charging decisions in sexual assault cases, we test the hypothesis that the effect of victim characteristics is conditioned by the relationship between the victim and the suspect. We categorize the victim/suspect relationship as one involving strangers, acquaintances/relatives, or intimate partners, and we examine the effect of victim, suspect, and case characteristics on charging decisions in each type of case. The results of our analysis reveal that the effect of victim characteristics, with one exception, is confined to cases involving acquaintances and intimate partners. In these types of cases, prosecutors were less likely to file charges if there were questions about the victim's character or behavior at the time of the incident. In contrast, the victim's reputation and behavior did not affect charging in cases involving strangers; in those types of cases, prosecutors were more likely to file charges if the suspect used a gun or knife or if the victim was white. We conclude that stereotypes of “real rapes” and “genuine victims” continue to influence the charging decision in at least some types of sexual assault cases.
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This study explored the impact of victim and perpetrator alcohol consumption on police officers' evaluations of an alleged sexual assault and their reported likelihood of charging the perpetrator. Two hundred and twelve police officers were presented with a vignette depicting an acquaintance rape in which the beverage consumption (beer, cola) of both the victim and perpetrator was systematically varied. Results indicated that the officers' perceptions of the complainant's intoxication level, as well as the gender of the officer, influenced officers' evaluations of the alleged sexual assault. The more intoxicated the complainant was perceived to be, the more negatively she was viewed. Female police officers evaluated the victim more favorably than male officers. The only factors related to the officers' likelihood of charging the perpetrator, however, involved their assessment of the complainant's credibility and their perception of the likelihood that the perpetrator would be found guilty in a court of law.
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This wide-ranging edited volume provides a state of the art account of theory and research on modern street-level bureaucracy, gathering internationally acclaimed scholars to address the varying roles of public officials who fulfill their tasks while interacting with the public. These roles include the delivery of benefits and services, the regulation of social and economic behavior, and the expression and maintenance of public values. Questions about the extent of discretionary autonomy and the feasibility of hierarchical control are discussed in depth, with suggestions made for the further development of research in this field. Hence the book fills an important gap in the literature on public policy delivery, making it a valuable text for students and researchers of public policy, public administration and public management.
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Despite the proliferation of rape crisis centers and other improvements in the treatment of rape victims over the past 20 years, many victims still find themselves the victims of what has been called a "second rape" by doctors, lawyers, judges, police, and administrators that process them. This book takes a critical look at the organizations and officials that process rape victims to see how the structure of their respective organizations often prevent them from providing responsive care.
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This study evaluates an experimental training program at a Midwestern police academy. In Study 1, one class of police recruits participated in a typical training protocol, and two classes attended the experimental program. Outcomes were compared with quantitative measures and qualitative analysis of performance in a simulated sexual assault interview. In Study 2, outcomes were assessed (a) before the experimental program, (b) after classroom instruction but before a simulated interview, (c) after classroom instruction and a simulated interview, and (d) after classroom instruction and two simulated interviews. Results suggest that specialized training is effective in improving behavioral performance but not cognitive or attitudinal outcomes. The conclusions highlight the importance of behaviorally focused training and evaluation.
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Cet article presente une etude menee en Floride a propos des prejuges sexistes a l'encontre des femmes au sein de l'institution judiciaire. L'A. se penche ici sur les croyances des juges et avocats, et s'interroge sur l'impact de la prise de conscience des femmes juges et avocates de leur condition feminine concernant les decisions relatives aux affaires de harcelement, viol et divorce
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Concerns about the treatment of rape victims and attrition in rape cases prompted a nationwide movement to reform state rape laws. In this study we evaluate the impact of rape law reforms on reports of rape and the processing of rape cases in six urban jurisdictions-Detroit, Chicago, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Houston, and Washington, D.C. Our results strongly suggest that the ability of rape reform legislation to affect case outcomes is limited. Time-series analyses revealed that predicted results were found in only one of the six jurisdictions, and there the results were limited.
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From the reviews of the First Edition."An interesting, useful, and well-written book on logistic regression models . . . Hosmer and Lemeshow have used very little mathematics, have presented difficult concepts heuristically and through illustrative examples, and have included references."—Choice"Well written, clearly organized, and comprehensive . . . the authors carefully walk the reader through the estimation of interpretation of coefficients from a wide variety of logistic regression models . . . their careful explication of the quantitative re-expression of coefficients from these various models is excellent."—Contemporary Sociology"An extremely well-written book that will certainly prove an invaluable acquisition to the practicing statistician who finds other literature on analysis of discrete data hard to follow or heavily theoretical."—The StatisticianIn this revised and updated edition of their popular book, David Hosmer and Stanley Lemeshow continue to provide an amazingly accessible introduction to the logistic regression model while incorporating advances of the last decade, including a variety of software packages for the analysis of data sets. Hosmer and Lemeshow extend the discussion from biostatistics and epidemiology to cutting-edge applications in data mining and machine learning, guiding readers step-by-step through the use of modeling techniques for dichotomous data in diverse fields. Ample new topics and expanded discussions of existing material are accompanied by a wealth of real-world examples-with extensive data sets available over the Internet.
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Heightened awareness about the plight of victimized women has prompted sweeping legislative change over the past decade. Criminal statutes, civil laws, and criminal justice policies pertaining to rape in general, marital rape in particular, and domestic violence have all been altered. This article examines the outcomes of reform, revealing both successes and failures of ameliorative efforts. The problems discerned in the aftermath of reform are discussed as they preclude the full protection of violently victimized women. Conclusions explore the needs for further progress in this area.
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The decision to charge is a critical stage in the processing of sexual assault cases, as many cases do not proceed beyond this stage. Frohmann (1991) examined prosecutorial justifications for case rejection and concluded that prosecutors construct typifications of credible victims and rape relevant behavior in deciding whether to file charges in sexual assault cases. We use data on 1997 sexual battery cases cleared by arrest in Miami, Florida, as well as information gleaned from interviews with a sample of the attorneys who handled these cases, to replicate and extend Frohmann's work. Although our findings are consistent with Frohmann's assertion that charging decisions primarily reflect the prosecutor's assessment of the likelihood of conviction, they also suggest that this assessment is based on factors other than typifications of rape and rape victims. In a substantial number of the cases examined for this study, the decision to reject charges could be traced to the victim's failure to appear for a prefile interview, refusal to cooperate in the prosecution of the case, or admission that the charges were fabricated. We also found that the decision to file charges was based on a combination of case and victim characteristics, but that cases involving a victim and suspect who were acquainted, related, or intimate partners were more likely than those involving a victim and suspect who were strangers to be prosecuted. We conclude that prosecutors' charging decisions are guided by a set of "focal concerns" (Steffensmeier, et al. 1998) that revolve around reducing uncertainty and securing convictions and that incorporate beliefs about real rapes and legitimate victims.
Article
Responsibility for arrest and charging makes police influential agents in the offical processing of sexual-assault cases. Recent research offers three competing models of police decisions: the legal model suggests that police do not discriminate between victims on the basis of extralegal attributes; the extralegal model suggests that police do discriminate; and the change model suggests that reliance on extralegal determinants declines with growing awareness of rape as a social problem. These models were tested on 905 sexual-assault complaints to police in a large, midwestern city over six years. The data showed that the most important determinants of arrest, charge seriousness and felony screening were legal. Suspects received more serious outcomes when: (1) the victim was able to identify a suspect, (2) the victim was willing to testify, (3) the incident included sexual penetration, (4) charges were more serious, and (5) the incident included a weapon. Extralegal variables had less effect than legal variables on all three police decisions. Also, reorganization of the police department did not change arrest and felony filing rates or, for the most part, criteria used for making processing decisions.
Article
Research demonstrates a positive relationship between public attitudes toward women and rape myth acceptance. Little is known about whether this relationship also exists within police culture. The current study assesses the relationship between police officers' attitudes toward women and their attitudes toward rape. The effect of educational attainment on these attitudes is also assessed. A survey was administered to 891 police officers from two states in the southeastern United States. There was a significant difference on measures of modern sexism and the acceptance of rape myths with varying levels of educational attainment.
Article
Rape victim‐blaming attitudes are examined with data from a probability sample of students at a southern university (male, n = 511; female, n = 666). Hypotheses derived from two competing versions of attribution theory, “defensive attribution” and “need for control,” are tested to examine the effects of gender, past female sexual victimization, past male sexual aggression, nonsexual crime victimization, and risk taking on rape myth acceptance. The results show that: (1) Females are substantially less likely to blame rape victims; (2) For the female subsample, risk taking and rape victim blame are negatively associated; (3) Among males, past sexual aggression and risk taking are positively related to victim blaming; and (4) Male experience with nonsexual victimization is negatively related to victim blaming. Each version of attribution theory is partially confirmed by the findings. Nationality, race/ethnicity, class standing, and rape prevention knowledge also influence victim blaming attitudes.
Article
Using a sample of 467 sexual assault cases, this study analyzes the role of prior relationship and “negative” victim characteristics in accounting for case outcomes from prosecutorial intake to final disposition. Neither of these variables played a role in either the decision to prosecute, the decision to go to trial rather than resolve by guilty plea, trial outcomes, or punishment severity as indicated by a prison (versus nonprison) term. Both variables, however, were significant in determining sentence length. When selection bias and relevant legal factors were controlled, the existence of a prior relationship reduced sentence length by 35 months; each additional negative victim characteristic reduced the period of incarceration by 17 months.
Article
Previous research testing the sexual stratification hypothesis has demonstrated that the defendant's race interacts with the victim's race to produce harsher sentences for blacks who sexually assault whites. Research also has demonstrated that victim characteristics affect outcomes of sexual assault cases. We use data on defendants bound over for trial in Detroit Recorder's Court to build on and extend this research. We examine the effect of the racial makeup of the offender/victim pair on a series of sexual assault case outcomes, and we test for interaction between offender/victim race, the relationship between the victim and the offender, and evidence of risk-taking behavior by the victim. Our results show that sexual assaults involving black men and white women are not always treated more harshly than other types of assaults. We conclude that the sexual stratification hypothesis must be modified to account for the role of factors other than the racial composition of the offender/victim pair.
Article
This study evaluates an experimental training program at a Midwestern police academy. In Study 1, one class of police recruits participated in a typical training protocol, and two classes attended the experimental program. Outcomes were compared with quantitative measures and qualitative analysis of performance in a simulated sexual assault interview. In Study 2, outcomes were assessed (a) before the experimental program, (b) after classroom instruction but before a simulated interview, (c) after classroom instruction and a simulated interview, and (d) after classroom instruction and two simulated interviews. Results suggest that specialized training is effective in improving behavioral performance but not cognitive or attitudinal outcomes. The conclusions highlight the importance of behaviorally focused training and evaluation.
Article
Beliefs about rape held by judges, prosecutors, and police officers were compared with beliefs held by social service personnel. Significant differences were found between social service personnel and members of the criminal justice system in terms of beliefs about (a) causes of rape; (b) ways to reduce the frequency of rape; and (c) the likelihood that any rape complaint is true or false. The groups did not differ in their beliefs about victim characteristics and circumstances associated with "true" and "false" rape reports. These results may account for attributions of responsibility and blame for the rape, and the conflict between social service personnel and members of the criminal justice system in the area of rape.
Article
Feminists contend that legally irrelevant victim characteristics determine the outcome of sexual assault cases. They argue that criminal justice officials base their decisions on stereotypes of rape, and that only “real rapes” with “genuine victims” are taken seriously. Our empirical study of Detroit prosecutors' charging decisions in sexual assault cases confirms this: We found that the only significant predictors of charging were victim characteristics. Prosecutors were much more likely to file charges if the victim was an adolescent or an adult rather than a child. Charging also was affected by the victim's moral character and her behavior at the time of the incident. Moreover, these victim characteristics influenced charging regardless of the strength of evidence in the case or whether the crime was classified as an aggravated or a simple sexual assault. Overall the results of this study suggest that Detroit prosecutors regard victim characteristics as relevant to convictability in all types of sexual assault cases. They suggest that prosecutors attempt to avoid uncertainty by screening out sexual assault cases unlikely to result in a conviction because of questions about the victim's character, the victim's behavior at the time of the incident, and the victim's credibility.
Article
An overview discusses (a) the importance of rape attitudes, (b) the major rape attitude measures, and (c) the applicability of four theoretical frameworks of hostility toward women to rape attitude maintenance. Findings from 72 studies of rape attitudes and individual differences were quantitatively synthesized. The meta-analysis revealed more rape acceptance for men, older people, and people from lower socioeconomic status backgrounds. For men, cognitive predispositions toward perpetrating rape were strong predictors of rape acceptance. For women, experience as and exposure to rape victims were associated with slightly less rape acceptance. Consistent with some theoretical predictions, traditional gender role beliefs, adversarial sexual beliefs, needs for power and dominance, aggressiveness and anger, and conservative political beliefs predicted rape acceptance. Implications for rape education programs and research are discussed.
Article
Attitudes towards women in general, rape and aggressive sexual behaviour were measured in a sample of police officers (N = 50) and compared with a sample of students (N = 50). Results indicated no differences in attitudes between the students and the police. There were however a number of gender differences with women expressing more liberal views towards women than men whilst men holding more strongly to rape myths than women. Results are discussed in terms of progress in the police's handling of rape victims, given nearly a decade of attempts to improve services. Attitudinal positions were linked to aspects of gender and occupational socialisation. Implications for police practice are also highlighted.
Article
Surveyed 2,170 police officers (mean age 36 yrs), 93.6% of whom were male, on their attitudes toward rape. Results reveal that Ss were not typically insensitive to the plight of rape victims. They were, however, suspicious of victims who met certain criteria, such as previous and willing sex with the assailant, or who "provoked" rape through their appearance or behavior. There was a small subset of Ss who agreed strongly with inappropriate statements such as "nice women do not get raped" or "most charges of rape are unfounded." Ss' attitudes toward the rapist were ambivalent. While Ss viewed rape as an exercise in power, they did not see rape as an opportunity to demonstrate manhood. Ss were confused as to whether rape is a sex crime. (11 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Article
A criminal complainant's decision to prosecute has long been recognized as an important aspect of criminal justice case processing. Much of the literature regards this decision as a simple expression of a victim's volition. On the basis of interviews with detectives, prosecutors, and a victims' advocate and quantitative analyses (based on a sample of police files), it was concluded that police officers have a substantial influence on a complainant's decision to prosecute. The study also assessed evidence for three explanations for officials influencing complainants' decisions: feminist conflict theory, Black's “behavior of law” hypotheses, and the need to efficiently allocate scarce resources. It was found that the need to efficiently allocate resources best explained the data.
Article
The determinants of verdicts in a rape case were examined. Pretrial attitudes (rape empathy, juror bias, belief in a just world, and authoritarianism) were measured to ascertain both the intercorrelations among the attitudes and their predictive value of verdicts. The eye contact (staring, avoiding, or random) of the alleged rape victim with the defendant was also examined. Results showed that rape empathy was predictive of verdict. The eye contact of the alleged victim with the defendant also affected verdicts of female mock jurors. Specifically, when eye contact was avoided, more guilty verdicts were rendered. Furthermore, interpretation of eye contact was found to be a function of mock jurors' reported rape empathy. Specifically, subjects who reported empathy with the victim tended to interpret the victim's behavior as consistent with being raped. Finally, differences were found between high and low empathizers for the rape victim in what aspects of the trial were important to mock jurors' decisions.
Article
This study sought to identify factors that predicted outcomes for sexual assault cases involving female victims across several decision-making points and compare these findings to prior studies. The results indicate that there continues to be a high attrition rate in the handling of sexual assault cases. Only 9.7% of cases examined resulted in charges. In regards to processing decisions, most of the factors that predicted whether cases were founded, resulted in arrest, presented to the prosecution, or resulted in felony charges were extralegal factors. One factor appeared to influence several decision-making points: whether officers noted discrepancies in victim statements.
Article
The purposes of this study were to assess (a) the extent of attrition in the processing of sexual assault cases in the legal systems, (b) factors associated with attrition at various stages in the process, and (c) victims' experiences in the legal system and the relations between these experiences and recovery. Our results suggest that substantial attrition continues to occur in the prosecution of rape cases, that more severe assaults are prosecuted more vigorously, that victims are generally satisfied with the police (but not with the legal system in general), and that neither attitudes nor case outcomes are associated with victims' postrape recovery. Research and policy implications are discussed.
Article
This study examined the effect of victim characteristics and evidence factors on prosecutors’ decisions to file charges in sexual assault cases. Social scientists and legal scholars argue that sexual assault case processing decisions are affected by stereotypes of real rapes and genuine victims. They assert that complainants whose backgrounds and behavior conform to the image of a genuine victim will be taken more seriously, and their allegations treated more seriously, than complainants whose backgrounds and behavior are at odds with this image. We used a sample of arrests for sexual assault made by the Detroit Police Department in 1989 to test these assertions. We combined six victim characteristics to create a genuine victim scale, and we examined the effect of this scale, as well as a number of evidence factors, on prosecutors’ charging decisions. We performed separate analyses on cases with child victims and cases with adolescent or adult victims. We found that the genuine victim scale did not influence charging decisions in cases with child victims, but was theonly significant predictor in cases involving adolescent or adult victims. In contrast, none of the four evidence factors affected charging in cases with adult victims, and only one of these factors was related to charging in cases involving children. These findings suggest that prosecutors attempt to avoid uncertainty by screening out sexual assault cases unlikely to result in a conviction because of questions about the victim’s character, the victim’s behavior, and the victim’s credibility.
Article
Rape law reforms enacted during the past 20 years were designed to shift the focus of a rape case from the victim to the offender. Reformers and criminal justice officials speculated that changes in the rules of evidence and enactment of rape shield laws would result in less suspicion of the claims of rape victims and would make it less likely that the character, reputation, and behavior of the victim would affect decision making about the case. In this paper we examine the impact of rape law reform on the factors affecting the outcome of sexual assault cases bound over for trial in Detroit. We find little support for our hypothesis that the effect of victim characteristics on case processing decisions declined in the postreform period. Most of the victim characteristics did not have the expected effects on the likelihood of case dismissal, charge reduction, conviction, or incarceration. We did, on the other hand, find that the proportion of cases involving evidence of risk-taking behavior on the part of the victim or questions about the victim's credibility increased in the postreform period.
Article
Research has shown that prosecutors rely more heavily on victim characteristics and other extralegal factors than on criteria set forth by the law, when evaluating the merits of a rape case. Little is known, however, about the factors police officers use when assessing the merits of a rape case. The current study contributes to what is known about police officers’ attitudes toward rape. A survey was administered to 891 sworn police officers in two states in the southeastern United States. The surveys were designed to assess police officers’ acceptance of rape myths. Police officers who accept more rape myths were less likely to believe victims who did not adhere to the stereotyped “genuine victim.” This research contributes to what is known about the factors affecting police officers’ decision-making in rape cases. This study has implications for assessing the effectiveness of rape law reforms, inasmuch as these reforms are conveyed through police work.
Article
The current study contributes to what is known about police officers’ attitudes toward rape. A survey was administered to 891 sworn police officers in two states in the southeastern United States. The surveys were designed to assess police officers’ acceptance of rape myths. It was hypothesized that police officers would be accepting of rape myths, which are inherently misogynistic. Attitudes toward rape were expected to vary according to educational attainment and experience with rape investigations, such that higher levels of education and more experience with rape investigations would lead to the rejection of rape myths. There was a significant difference in the acceptance of rape myths with varying levels of educational attainment and experience with rape investigations.
Book
Provides an informal introduction to the field of attribution, with the theoretical principles and issues illustrated in everyday examples. The origins of current attribution theory are outlined, and models of the inference process are examined. The intellectual debt owed to social psychology by the attribution theory is acknowledged, and an exploration of the interpersonal and social consequences of attribution is included. (8 p ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Article
This paper examines several explanations for the low rate of conviction for rape arrests made in the District of Columbia from 1971 to 1976. Discrimination against female victims does not appear to be a major cause of the problem, nor do rape victims appear more likely than victims of other serious crimes to cause case attrition due to their own unwillingness to continue. Questioning of the victim's credibility, on the other hand, does seem to be more of a reason for case dismissal for rape cases than for other serious crimes. A multivariate analysis of the types of rape cases that do result in conviction yielded eight statistically significant variables. A new perspective on rape cases emphasizing the issues of consent and credibility is presented.
Individual differences and attitudes toward rape: A meta-analytic review Prosecutorial charging decisions in sexual assault cases: Examining the impact of a specialized prosecution unit
  • K Anderson
  • H Cooper
  • L Okamura
Anderson, K., Cooper, H., & Okamura, L. (1997). Individual differences and attitudes toward rape: A meta-analytic review. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 23(3), 295-315. r20 Journal of Interpersonal Violence 27(1) Beichner, D., & Spohn, C. (2005). Prosecutorial charging decisions in sexual assault cases: Examining the impact of a specialized prosecution unit. Criminal Justice Policy Review, 16(4), 461-498
Women in law enforcement
  • L Langton
Langton, L. (2010). Women in law enforcement, 1987-2008 (NCJ Publication No. 230521). Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Justice. Available from http://bjs .ojp.usdoj.gov/content/pub/pdf/wle8708.pdf.
The invisible woman: Gender, crime, and justice
  • J Belknap
Belknap, J. (2007). The invisible woman: Gender, crime, and justice (3rd ed.). Belmont, CA: Thomson Wadsworth.