Criminology - Theses, Dissertations, and other Required Graduate Degree Essays

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Shots fired: Unraveling the 2015 Surrey gang conflict using social network analysis

Author: 
Date created: 
2021-01-22
Abstract: 

The ever-changing gang landscape in British Columbia (BC) has seen periods of escalated retaliatory gang violence, most recently in 2015, in Surrey, BC, Canada. The ‘face’ of the gang problem in Surrey is that of South Asian males in their early twenties. Homicide among this population is an unrecognized public health crisis, as over the last decade, there have been over 150 deaths and counting of South Asian males related to gang violence in the Lower Mainland. A cross-disciplinary tool that police can use to advance their understanding of gangs, conflicts and violent victimization is social network analysis (SNA). The ego-networks of the 23 confirmed gang-related gun homicide or attempted homicide victims in Surrey, in 2015, are constructed using police data from 2011 to 2015. The present study a) assesses the overall structure to understand the Surrey gang conflict, b) conducts centrality analyses to identify those individuals (victims and non-victims) at the highest risk of gunshot victimization and c) explores the potential consequences of being central in the victim network. Results indicate that 299 of the 355 individuals in the overall network are connected to each other, including 18 of the 23 victims, who are more likely to be brokers. A high-risk group is identified, with two or more direct connections to victims that are at the highest risk of victimization. Finally, results show that 2016 and 2017 victims are among the most central in the network. Policy and practical implications are discussed with reference to these findings.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Martin Bouchard
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: School of Criminology
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.

Media representation of migrant crime: Hypotheticals, prominence, and migration pros and cons in select western newspaper coverage

Author: 
Date created: 
2020-10-22
Abstract: 

This content analysis examines newspaper representation of migrant criminality in Canada, the UK, and the US. Existing studies demonstrate a dynamic relationship between media coverage, perceptions of migration, and politics/lawmaking, as well as the media’s role in maintaining the gap between empirical knowledge and common understanding of migrant crime. Logistic and OLS regression are employed to evaluate (1) the hypothetical discussion of migrant crime (speculative/risk-oriented content as opposed to the discussion of a real crime event), and (2) article prominence in the form of word count. Qualitative thematic analyses are used to explore the nature of (3) pro-migrant content, such as economic benefits, and (4) anti-migrant content, such as threats to values and resources. Results are considered in the contexts of rising populism, media influence and accountability, promotion of stereotypes and public concern, and the perceived risks of migration and subsequent effects on human and civil rights.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Jennifer Wong
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: School of Criminology
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.

Mandatory minimum sentences of imprisonment as ‘cruel and unusual punishment’: Exploring constitutional infirmity post-Nur (2015)

Author: 
Date created: 
2020-07-30
Abstract: 

This research examines judicial intervention striking down mandatory minimum sentencing laws in Canada. Between 2006 and 2015, former Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Conservative government introduced (and increased) an unprecedented number of mandatory minimums in the Criminal Code and Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. Approximately 100 offences now carry a minimum period of imprisonment. In 2015 and 2016, the Supreme Court of Canada struck down provisions imposing minimum periods of imprisonment in R v Nur and R v Lloyd, for violating the prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment enshrined in s. 12 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Lower courts across Canada have continued striking down other mandatory minimum provisions (primarily those pertaining to drug, sex, and weapons offences). 134 cases challenging the constitutional validity of mandatory minimums are reviewed. This research concludes the current Liberal government has not fulfilled its commitment to review the previously imposed mandatory minimum penalties, despite more effective and less costly sentencing approaches.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
David MacAlister
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: School of Criminology
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.

The effect of seasonal and geographic variation on early carcass colonization by forensically important blow flies (Calliphoridae) in British Columbia.

Author: 
Date created: 
2020-08-11
Abstract: 

Using a terrestrial-based field study, the abundance and diversity of necrophagous insects were monitored over a nine-month period within distinct environments in the Metro Vancouver region of BC, Canada. Acting as body proxies, small baited bottle traps (n=9) were deployed weekly for 12-hour intervals in three different environments, accumulating a total of 1334 specimens. Collected specimens were analyzed microscopically to determine species ID, sex, and gravidity. Ambient temperature and precipitation data for each site was obtained from the nearest government weather station. Following the same procedures, a second component of the study analyzed the influence of light intensity on carcass colonization by placing bottle traps (n=9) in shaded areas at each site. Bivariate analyses revealed significant relationships between species, geographic location, and month of collection, suggesting that necrophagous species composition is influenced by habitat type and seasonal shifts in temperature. Sex ratios, reproductive ranges, and light preferences of Calliphoridae were examined.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Gail Anderson
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: School of Criminology
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.

Unpacking the victim-offender overlap using a network approach

Author: 
Date created: 
2020-08-17
Abstract: 

Previous studies found support for the victim-offender overlap, but far less is known about why the relationship exists. To address this gap, the current study uses social network analysis (SNA) to measure risky lifestyles, which has implications for future victimization. SNA can provide nuanced insights into how risky lifestyles may lead to serious victimization. Such nuance includes more precise measures of delinquent peer associations, including peer (social), conflict, and co-offending relationships. Using data from the Incarcerated Serious and Violent Young Offender Study (ISVYOS), the current study operationalized risky lifestyles using network measures and examined whether these network characteristics can predict serious victimization. Findings from bivariate comparisons show that differences in network characteristics exist across victims and non-victims. Multivariate analyses suggest that offenders’ embeddedness in dense criminogenic networks prospectively predict serious victimization. Further, offenders’ changes in network characteristics showed partial support towards the aggregate age-crime curve. Recommendations for policy and practice are discussed with reference to these findings.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Evan McCuish
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: School of Criminology
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.

Examining the impacts associated with technology-facilitated sexual violence: A mixed methods approach

Author: 
Date created: 
2020-07-20
Abstract: 

Numerous cases of technology-facilitated sexual violence (TFSV) exemplify potentially tragic outcomes for victims including stress, anxiety, depression, and negative social/occupational consequences. A mixed methods approach was used to integrate survey data (N = 337) with interview data (N = 10) to gain a more in-depth understanding of TFSV victimization impacts for men and women as well as to examine the predominant feminist perspective in TFSV research. In addition, quantitative survey data (N = 521) were used to evaluate the Interpersonal Theory of Suicide (ITS) in the context of TFSV victimization. The objective was to analyze the mechanisms underlying the relationship between TFSV victimization and suicidality, exclusively accounting for mediating factors of interpersonal victimization, depression, perceived burdensomeness (PB), and thwarted belongingness (TB). Results revealed several major themes that emerged among victims of TFSV including the mistrust of others, a continued sense of a loss of control, and fear of future repercussions stemming from the victimization. Pathway results showed that TFSV victimization increased suicidality serially through bullying, depression, and PB – suggesting a cascade of victimization experiences. TB was not a significant mediator.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Richard Frank
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: School of Criminology
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.

From empty to angry: Extremism, modernity, and the search for identity

Author: 
Date created: 
2020-06-15
Abstract: 

An increase in the amount of high-profile incidents and attacks in the West perpetrated by individuals subscribing to a variety of extremist ideologies over the past decade has led to an influx of academic research concerned with uncovering how and why it is that individuals become radicalized toward ideologically-motivated extremist violence. While such research has examined a diverse range of social, demographic, and psychological variables and their potential link/correlation to the radicalization process, there has yet to emerge an accurate or reliable ‘profile’ with respect to who is more or less likely to become radicalized or join extremist/terrorist movements. The primary aim of this dissertation is to present a novel theoretical approach which centers the concept of individual identity as the fundamental factor which drives individuals in the West toward involvement with extremist movements. This theory of identity, which presupposes that macro-level structural factors fundamentally dictate how individuals experience and internalize identity on a micro-level, is outlined by tracing how the concept of ‘identity’ has historically evolved in ‘Western’ culture up to its current iteration in modern, hyper-connected, late-capitalist society. Once outlined, this theory of identity is empirically applied to the digital media content of two extremist movements via a mixed-method approach that utilizes topic modelling, sentiment analysis, and thematic/discourse analysis. More specifically, the content of the so-called Islamic State (including videos, magazines, and Twitter posts) and the user-generated comments of the notorious far-right online community r/The_Donald are examined through this theoretical lens and analyzed with this mixed-method approach. Results indicate that, wittingly or not, modern extremist movements routinely incorporate questions of identity into both their propaganda and general discussions in a manner that provides simplistic solutions and answers to the complex problems of identity and self that are created and amplified within modern Western culture. As such, this dissertation argues that the attraction of extremist ideology and the potential for extremist violence is, at current, an inevitable byproduct of modern macro-level structural and economic conditions.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Richard Frank
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: School of Criminology
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) Ph.D.

‘I don’t want to be alive’: Suicidal ideation and attempted suicide among prison inmates

Author: 
Date created: 
2020-06-12
Abstract: 

Suicide is a serious public health concern and prisoners represent a particularly high-risk group. Though research on the suicidality of prison inmates has gained considerable momentum in recent decades, there are several underexplored areas of inquiry. The purpose of this dissertation was to add knowledge to three underexplored avenues of research. First, very limited research has used a multi-level methodological approach to investigate how both micro-level prisoner and macro-level prison characteristics contribute to suicidal thoughts and behaviour among prison inmates. Second, rates of suicide are highest among middle-aged and older adults; yet, little is known about the nature of suicidal thoughts and attempted suicide among older prison inmates, especially with respect to how they compare to younger counterparts. Third, suicide attempters represent a heterogenous group, whereby repeat-suicide attempters are clinically distinct from single-suicide attempters; however, most prison-based research has examined suicide attempters as a homogenous group, with a paucity of research which has aimed to identify factors that distinguish repeat-suicide attempters from single-suicide attempters. This dissertation used the 2004 Survey of Inmates in State and Federal Correctional Facilities, a cross-sectional survey which collected data on a nationally representative sample of 18,185 prison inmates in the U.S. Results from the first study (Chapter 2) highlight that both micro-level prisoner and macro-level prison characteristics are important to consider as correlates of suicidal thoughts and attempted suicide. This study also highlights variations in predictive patterns for suicidal thoughts versus attempted suicide, as well as gendered patterns with respect to predicting suicidal thoughts/attempts. Results from the second study (Chapter 3) suggest that suicidal thoughts/attempts may manifest differently for younger and older prisoners, with differing patterns of risk. Results from the third study (Chapter 4) emphasize the importance of acknowledging the heterogeneity of suicide attempters, as repeat-suicide attempters potentially possess a differing risk profile as compared to single-suicide attempters. The collective results from this work may be of great use for prison administrators and mental health professionals working in prison settings who want to reduce suicide-related issues or otherwise improve the well-being of at-risk prisoners.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Simon Verdun-Jones
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: School of Criminology
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) Ph.D.

Are bosses brokers? A network approach to leadership in organized crime

Author: 
Date created: 
2020-05-25
Abstract: 

Although research has been conducted on leaders of various types of organizations, there are concerns that such research cannot be generalized to organized crime groups. Using data provided by the Criminal Intelligence Service of Alberta, the current study adopts a social network approach to analyzing leadership in organized crime in Alberta, Canada. More specifically, it looks at whether leadership status can be used to predict centrality. Understanding the network centrality of leaders can help shed light on what leaders do, how they behave, and who they talk to, which in turn allows law enforcement to more effectively plan and assess the appropriateness of intervention strategies against organized crime groups. While past studies have used centrality measures to predict leadership, I argue that centrality comes with the territory of being a leader. Results indicated that leadership status was a significant positive predictor of both degree centrality and betweenness centrality.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Martin Bouchard
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: School of Criminology
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.

X̱aaydaG̱a Tll Yahda TllG̱uhlG̱a Decolonizing justice: The formation of a Haida justice system

Author: 
Date created: 
2020-05-06
Abstract: 

The imposition of colonial governance, law, and justice superseded Indigenous Nation-based ways of governing and responding to wrongdoing. The Haida Nation and Haida Gwaii are uniquely situated to reassert the right to justice. Through semi-structured in-depth interviews, this study addressed the research questions: What does justice mean to the Haida? How could Haida conceptions of justice be implemented in modern-day? The emergent themes encompass the importance of community involvement, looking to the past to understand the present, overcoming trauma and healing and taking incremental steps towards the ultimate goal of sovereignty. The re-establishment of a Haida justice (tll yahda, make things right) system will take time and the importance of building capacity, healing, and focusing on our collective strengths was highlighted by participants. This study suggests that the formalization of a Haida Tll Yahda system is possible and offers suggestions for further actions to hold Canada to account for the ongoing harm it has caused.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Supervisor(s): 
Ted Palys
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: School of Criminology
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.