CRC funded reports
The Council received six reports of completed research projects during the year. Summaries of these reports are given below. These reports are held by the Australian Institute of Criminology's JV Barry Library and are available on inter-library loan. For full bibliographic information on any report, search the Library's Catalogue.
- A quantitative and qualitative analysis of the relationship between community cohesiveness and rural crime (Parts 1 and 2)
- An investigation of the role of resiliency-promoting factors in preventing adverse life outcomes during adolescence
- The effectiveness of criminal sanctions: a natural experiment
- Shame management and social reintegration for bullies and victims in ACT schools: the prism project
- An evaluation of anger management programs with violent offenders in two Australian states (volumes 1 and 2)
- Reintegrative shaming of violence, drink-driving and property crime: a randomised controlled trial
A quantitative and qualitative analysis of the relationship between community cohesiveness and rural crime (Parts 1 and 2)
Report title: A quantitative and qualitative analysis of the relationship between community cohesiveness and rural crime (Parts 1 and 2)
Grantees: Dr Patrick Jobes, Dr Joe Donnermeyer and Ms Elaine Barclay
Criminology Research Council grant ; (7/97-8)
Crime in rural Australia has been a little-studied phenomenon. A two-part comprehensive analysis of crime in rural Australia sought to address the neglect of research into this important issue. In Part 1, quantitative analyses of census data and crime rates across 122 rural Local Government Areas in New South Wales highlighted the extraordinary diversity among rural communities in Australia. Crime rates were found to be clearly related to social structures that varied across identifiable types of geographic locations. Based on analyses of demographic variables, it was apparent that factors that imply greater community cohesion and integration were linked to less crime. Conversely, communities with lower cohesion and integration had more crime. Social disorganisation theory proved to be a suitable orientation for organising and interpreting these analyses.
In Part 2, qualitative analyses complimented and supported the quantitative analyses. Case studies were conducted in four rural communities which were differentiated according to the social, demographic and crime profiles revealed in the quantitative analysis. Residents' perceptions of the incidence and types of crime and other social problems experienced in each region were compared. Factors that intervened between the success or failure of the residents to cope with crime were explored. More cohesive and integrated communities experienced less crime. Their residents perceived fewer community problems and were more involved with overcoming social problems that occurred in them. Conversely, more fragmented communities had more crime and other social problems. There appeared to be no real evidence of fear of crime among rural residents. Unemployment and the loss of services in rural areas were their primary concerns. Crime was generally regarded as a consequence of these social problems.
An investigation of the role of resiliency-promoting factors in preventing adverse life outcomes during adolescence
Report title: An investigation of the role of resiliency-promoting factors in preventing adverse life outcomes during adolescence (PDF 5MB)
Grantees: Dr Bruce Johnson, Dr Susan Howard and Mr Murray Oswald
Criminology Research Council grant ; (39/98-9)
This study explored some aspects of the lives of 71 young people judged to be "at risk". Thirty-eight of these young people were identified as demonstrating "resilient" behaviour and 33 were identified as displaying "non-resilient" behaviour. Important differences were discovered between the two groups in terms of the way they talked about events and people in their lives, what they valued, what they regretted and how they saw the future.
The study recommends a "youth development" approach when working with young people. Evaluations of overseas intervention programs have shown that a resilience orientation rather than a problem-prevention orientation is much more likely to be effective in reducing the whole range of risky behaviours, including delinquency and antisocial behaviour. It suggests that major strategies in any resilience-oriented intervention program for young people need to address:
- the development of personal agency and autonomy;
- the development of achievement, mastery and competence;
- the development of connectedness and nurturance;
- the development of a positive future orientation.
These strategies should be implemented in the home/family, the school and the local community.
Report title: The effectiveness of criminal sanctions: a natural experiment (PDF 2.7MB)
Grantee: Dr David Tait
Criminology Research Council grant ; (33/96-7)
This study examined data from New South Wales local courts between 1992 and 1997. Using a natural experimental design, it compared cohorts of offenders appearing before magistrates within the 21 courts where random allocation of offenders was used. Variations in sentencing mix between magistrates within each court provided the basis for the analysis. In general, sanctions made very little difference to reoffending rates. However prison had a detectable influence on reoffending for more serious offenders (for example, offenders convicted of burglary or vehicle theft with a prior record), increasing reoffending rates by several percentage points relative to community sanctions.
There was also an apparent "incapacitation effect" resulting from being incarcerated for more than six months; offenders make up for their lost offending opportunities within three years of sentence. For the least serious offenders (such as those convicted on one count of using cannabis), bonds or dismissals reduced reoffending levels compared to fines.
In the middle range of sanctions, the impact of fines and community sanctions were similar. Despite various limitations of the data, the study provided an insight into the small but useful ways sentencing policies can contribute to a reduction of crime in the community.
Report title: From Bullying to Responsible Citizenship: A Restorative Approach to Building Safe School Communities summary published as: Bullying and Victimisation in Schools: A Restorative Justice Approach / Brenda Morrison
Grantee: Dr Valerie Braithwaite
Criminology Research Council grant ; (6/97-8)
The report for this project is titled "From Bullying to Responsible Citizenship: A Restorative Approach to Building Safe School Communities". The project examines the shame management strategies of bullies and victims in ACT primary schools. The project was based on Ahmed's (2000) findings that shame management was central to our understanding of bullying and victimisation in schools. Bullies do not acknowledge shame but displace it. Victims do acknowledge shame but feel rejected by others. The project followed up on this work in two ways. First, a follow-up of the original sample asked how shame management related to bullying and victimisation over time. The findings supported that shame management strategies did vary with changes in bullying and victimisation behaviour. Second, an intervention program for primary schools (The Responsible Citizenship Program) was developed. It aimed to help children learn more effective ways of managing their shame when a wrongdoing had occurred in the school. The evaluation of this program, by all involved, was positive in terms of learning outcomes. Of particular importance were the changes in shame management strategies that were found.
An evaluation of anger management programs with violent offenders in two Australian states (volumes 1 and 2)
Summary report title: Anger Management and Violence Prevention: State of the Art and Improving Effectiveness (PDF 689kB)
Final report title: An Evaluation of Anger Management Programs with Violent Offenders in Two Australian States (PDF 11MB)
Grantee: Prof Kevin Howells and Dr Andrew Day
Criminology Research Council grant ; (37/98-9)
This report described a large number of findings. The studies confirm that high levels of anger exist in the prison population, so effective anger management programs are required. The anger management programs studied are, in general, producing very small effects, though the changes are in the right direction. Few statistically significant changes occur from pre- to post- group assessments, with the exception of improved anger knowledge. The treated groups do not improve significantly more than the untreated control group.
The general conclusion is that anger management programs have only a very modest impact in general but that some particular offenders benefit more than others. For this reason the report has recommended a constructive, developmental approach whereby the improvements brought about by anger management interventions can be enhanced. The future targeting of treatment on suitable participants appears to be the way forward.
Grantees: Prof John Baithwaite and Prof Lawrence Sherman
Criminology Research Council grant ; (47/93-4)
Across the four experiments that make up the Reintegrative Shaming Experiments project (RISE), very different results have emerged for the different offence categories. In the youth violence experiment, those offenders who were assigned to conference subsequently offended at substantially lower levels-38 fewer offences per year per 100 offenders-than did the offenders assigned to court. This was not true for any of the other experiments. For drink-driving offenders, a very small increase in detected reoffending was found for the conferenced offenders relative to court-about four offences per offender per year per 100 offenders.
The methodological conclusion of this five-year project is that multiple randomised trials are advisable for testing a new method of justice. The design of RISE anticipated the possibility of detecting different effects for different types of offences. That still remains the most plausible account of the differences reported, as opposed to differences by type of offender background. Further research should continue to break out different offence types for testing, rather than lumping diverse offence types together. The substantive conclusion of RISE is that restorative justice can work, and can even reduce crime by violent offenders. But there is no guarantee that it will work for all offence types. Caution and more research are needed before rapid expansion of any new approach to treating crime. Less caution is needed, however, in testing restorative justice on more serious types of violent offences. The findings in this report provide firm ground for repeating the violence experiment in many other venues and with more refined types of violent offences, including robbery, assault and grievous bodily harm.
Reports to the Criminology Research Council:
- Recidivism Patterns in the Canberra Reintegrative Shaming Experiments (RISE) (Final report) / Lawrence W. Sherman, Heather Strang and Daniel J. Woods
- RISE progress reports (July 1999 report | June 1998 report | July 1997 report)