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

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An examination of sadism in sexual homicide: Are investigative awareness and the severity of sadistic behaviour distinctive features?

Author: 
Date created: 
2017-03-09
Abstract: 

The current study investigates whether investigative awareness is a distinctive feature of sadism and examines if it is possible to identify different types of sadistic offenders based on the severity of an offender’s sadistic behaviour. The study addressed these two research questions through a series of binary logistic regressions and two-step hierarchical cluster analysis utilizing a sample of 350 cases of sexual homicide from Canada. Results from the logistic regression indicate that sadistic offenders are more likely to use forensic awareness strategies at the crime scene, pre-select deserted locations to commit their offense and have an unsolved case in comparison to non-sadists. The cluster analysis show that three groups emerge: 1) a non-sadistic group, 2) a mixed group that show some evidence of sadistic behaviour, and 3) a sadistic group that have high levels of sadistic behaviour. Implications for both clinical and investigative purposes are discussed.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Eric Beauregard
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: School of Criminology
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.

Abduction, Rebellion and Reprieve: The Narratives of Former Members of the Lord's Resistance Army

Date created: 
2015-01-14
Abstract: 

A prominent feature of rebel insurgencies in Africa is the use of abduction to recruit fighters. This research investigates forced recruits who embrace the role of rebel within the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). The study seeks to understand the motivations for abductees to stay and gain rank within the group that abducted them and by doing so illuminates the role that forced recruits play in the endurance and survival of armed groups that rely on abduction as a means of recruitment. The research was conducted through twenty interviews with former LRA soldiers during four months of fieldwork in northern Uganda. All participants had been recruited through abduction and have now taken up the Government amnesty and returned home. The results demonstrate that the LRA retains its recruits through finely tuned internal control mechanisms. It uses the threat of violence and manipulates a cultural belief in spirits, which both prevent people from trying to escape. Contrary to the findings in previous research, the LRA does not terrorise their recruits into staying. The LRA gives rank when recruits demonstrate compliance and commitment. In turn, rank reaffirms commitment to the group. A recruit has to demonstrate ability, initiative, courage, and the ability to kill on the battlefield; in short, they have to show they are a good soldier. Those that are not good soldiers die during the fighting, or are killed by their own side. The benefits of rank are largely non-material: rank gives a recruit respect and power within the group, and the ability to ‘marry,’ all cultural conceptions of masculinity. Overall, forced recruits stay with the LRA because gaining rank offers them status that civilian life cannot, while internal control mechanisms in the group make leaving undesirable. This research demonstrates that forced recruits are not traumatized into staying with armed groups, but rather are effectively initiated into becoming soldiers through processes that promote compliance and allegiance to the group. In conclusion, this project, by closely examining the phenomena of forced recruitment, sheds new light on the neglected issue of the role that forced recruits play in the endurance of illicit groups.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Curt Griffiths
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences:
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) Ph.D.

The sexual violence against marginalized victims: An offender-based approach

Date created: 
2017-03-08
Abstract: 

Research shows that sex trade workers and homeless populations are at a high risk of severe violence and homicide. Based on a sample of 229 violent sex offenders, the first study investigates differences between sexual crimes committed against marginalized (N = 73) and non-marginalized victims (N = 156). Findings from logistic regression analyses show that offenders who target marginalized victims are more likely to degrade their victim and use a variety of torture methods. Secondly, prior literature has focused on these offenders as constituting a homogeneous group. Based on a sample of 213 sex offenders who targeted marginalized individuals, we investigate the different pathways that these offenders take both prior to and during the commission of their crimes. Results of two-step cluster analysis regarding the offender’s development, criminal history, crime context and modus operandi revealed three distinct pathways of the offending process. Implications for future research are discussed.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Eric Beauregard
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: School of Criminology
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.

Terrorist Networks and the Collective Criminal Career: The Relationship between Group Structure and Trajectories

Date created: 
2016-08-18
Abstract: 

Criminology theories have long pointed to criminal groups as playing key roles in shaping offending behaviour. While empirical research has refined this link, showing that individuals’ connectivity to criminal groups shapes their offending patterns, few studies have focused on the group as the main unit of analysis. We know little about the factors that lead criminal groups to emerge and even less about what leads them to evolve and persist over time. Focusing on group trajectories, this dissertation presents three studies that examine the evolution of the networks of terrorist organizations. Drawing from detailed network data derived from self-reports and official sources, this study examines the structural properties associated with 1) turning points in a group’s emergence and transition into violence; 2) network formation before and after a major law enforcement intervention; and 3) repeat offending across terrorist attacks. Collectively, findings showed how a group’s network structure is key for amplifying or attenuating their life cycle. However, group trajectories were found to depend not only on subgroups of densely connected offenders, but also leaders who played key roles in bridging the network and regenerating it over time. These results are used to conceptually develop a typology of group trajectories to explain variations in the life-cycles of terrorist organizations.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Martin Bouchard
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: School of Criminology
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) Ph.D.

Bringing psychopathy into research on offending trajectories: Understanding the construct’s role as a barrier to desistance

Date created: 
2016-07-12
Abstract: 

Traditional longitudinal studies in criminology are not well-equipped to address questions concerning differences between chronic offenders and desisters because (a) these studies sampled from community-based populations where chronic offenders are rarely found and (b) these studies did not include the types of risk factors expected to differentiate chronic offenders from desisters. Indeed, there is a noted lack of research on the offending patterns of youth at the ‘deep end’ of the criminal justice system (Mulvey et al., 2004), and this type of sample is especially critical for studying desistance. Specific attention was given to the manner in which symptoms of psychopathy could be integrated into existing theories of desistance. To facilitate this line of analysis, data from the Incarcerated Serious and Violent Young Offender Study (n = 326) were used to perform three separate analyses using semi-parametric group based modeling (with exposure time accounted for). The three analyses captured chronic, serious, and violent offending trajectories from age 12 to 28. The characteristics of the individuals associated with these trajectories were described in order to better understand risk and protective factors associated with persistence and desistance. Specific attention was given to whether symptoms of psychopathy measured using the Psychopathy Checklist: Youth Version (PCL:YV) were informative of trajectory group association in each of the chronic, serious, and violent offending analyses. Theoretical and policy implications for the desistance process during emerging adulthood are discussed. There is a specific need for continued research using repeated measures of risk and protective factors within samples of high-risk offenders. The substance use literature’s movement from abstinence-only treatment strategies to harm-reduction strategies may provide some helpful guidelines for criminal justice system practitioners distinguishing between high rate offenders recidivating as part of an escalation in the severity of their criminal career versus high rate offenders recidivating as part of a relapse in the desistance process.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Raymond Corrado
Patrick Lussier
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: School of Criminology
Thesis type: 
(Dissertation) Ph.D.

Shuffle Up and Deal: An Application of Capture-Recapture Methods to Estimate the Size of Stolen Data Markets

Date created: 
2016-08-24
Abstract: 

Often overlooked in the measurement of crime is the underlying size of offender populations. This holds true for online property crimes involving the sale, purchase, and use of stolen financial data. Despite available data suggesting that such frauds are steadily increasing, the number of actors comprising stolen data markets has yet to be determined. The current study addresses this issue using two related capture-recapture methods—Zelterman’s estimator and its extended covariate adjusted model—to estimate the population sizes of buyers, vendors, money launderers, and facilitators who are active within online marketplaces in a calendar year. Data analysis consisted of samples collected from 3 websites that facilitate financial crimes and frauds. While the observed overlap between marketplaces was rare, results indicate that websites are perhaps not distinct entities, but are better conceptualized as a collective marketplace that is much larger in size than what can otherwise be observed.

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

The Influence of Emotional Affect on Sexual Assault

Date created: 
2016-08-15
Abstract: 

This study examines the influence of emotional affect on an offender’s decision-making during a sexual assault event. Based on 507 convicted sexual offenders, regressions were used to assess if emotional affective states lead an offender to utilize excessive levels of physical force and inflict a greater degree of physical injuries during an assault event. Findings indicate that negative emotional states, such as anger, increase the likelihood of an offender using excessive physical force during the assault event. Further findings suggest that negative emotional states also increase the likelihood of the offender inflicting higher levels of victim injury. Results suggest that emotional affect has a narrowing effect on an offender’s decision-making process. The findings also indicate that emotional states prior to the sexual assault event are not significantly associated with either excessive physical force or violent, injurious outcomes. Theoretical and prevention implications are discussed.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Eric Beauregard
Martin Andresen
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: School of Criminology
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.

“They Know, But Do Not Tell”: Examining the Link Between Animal Cruelty and Other Criminal Offences in British Columbia

Date created: 
2016-08-16
Abstract: 

Animal cruelty is a significantly under researched topic in Criminology. An exploratory study was undertaken to determine whether there is a link between cruelty offences and other crimes in British Columbia (BC). Data were compiled using open source websites to identify convicted animal cruelty offenders and examine any further criminal convictions. Using the frameworks of the graduation hypothesis and generalized deviance theory, criminal offending patterns and timing of offences were analyzed. Offenders were categorized into two types based on their first animal cruelty offence: active (hands on, violent) and passive (hands off, neglect). Sentencing and demographic outcomes were also examined. Active cruelty offenders were more likely to have criminal records for violent crimes, and have prior and simultaneous convictions. These results are consistent with the generalized deviance theory. Sentencing outcomes revealed that strong penalties for animal cruelty offences are not being utilized by the BC courts.

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

The emergence of violent narratives in the life-course trajectories of online forum participants

Author: 
Date created: 
2016-07-11
Abstract: 

Drawing from Life Course Theory (LCT) and General Strain Theory (GST), the current study sought to address the development of negative affect in the online context, specifically whether the turning point of entrance into adulthood was associated with a change in sentiment expressed online. A mixed methods approach was employed, whereby 96 individuals were sampled from 3 online Islamic forums, and approximately 3000 posts per user were analyzed over 9 years. Quantitative results display a development in sentiment over time (increasing in negativity) for both minors and adults. Qualitatively, most users displayed a change in overall posting content throughout their time online; but a select few did not display any development – these individuals were the most negative / extreme on the forum. Implications of these findings for research on the role of the Internet in the development of negative narratives and extremism are discussed, as well as avenues for future research.

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

A Macro Perspective on Police Oversight in British Columbia: An Exploratory Study of the Dynamics and Financial Cost of Accountability

Date created: 
2016-06-30
Abstract: 

Independent civilian oversight of police has had rapid growth over the past decade in response to a number of high profile cases of police misconduct and public dissatisfaction with internal police investigations. The dynamics of the oversight process, however, have not been studied. This study examines the oversight of Royal Canadian Mounted Police and municipal police in the Province of British Columbia. This includes the financial cost of oversight, trends in public complaints against the police and the benefits and challenges of the current oversight system. The role of oversight in increasing police accountability, improving public confidence and shifting police behavior is also examined. Thirteen semi-structured interviews were conducted with persons from oversight agencies, police unions, special interest groups and professional standards units. The findings reveal the cost of police oversight has increased by 93.6% over five years. Municipal police spend more on oversight per year despite having three times less police strength than the RCMP. Major challenges facing the system include timely processing of complaints, the administrative burden of minor complaints, the difficulty in determining return on investment, and the two-tier complaint model within the province.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Curt Griffiths
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: School of Criminology
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.