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

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Framed: a Canadian news media analysis of accused persons deemed not criminally responsible on account of mental disorder

Author: 
Peer reviewed: 
No, item is not peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2016-04-14
Abstract: 

Few issues stir public interest, or generate as much controversy, as the verdict of Not Criminally Responsible on Account of Mental Disorder (NCR). Even though very few living with mental illness ever come into conflict with the law, three prominent cases recently prompted changes to Canada’s criminal justice system. This retrospective, mixed methods study analyzed coverage of these cases from four national news media services between 2008 and 2015, and how they were portrayed. Six major themes emerged: feelings of victimization; tough-on-crime attitudes; perceived injustice; trial by public opinion; a hierarchy of human rights; and negative stereotypes. Although two-thirds of stories conveyed a neutral tone, there were limited perspectives with lived experience, and no significant improvements in reporting trends over time. The findings support research that show the media provide overwhelmingly dramatic and distorted narratives of mental illness that emphasize dangerousness, unpredictability, and criminality. Recommendations for the news media to re-frame representations of NCR accused persons include practicing equality, providing context, collaborating with healthcare and legal experts, and focusing on rehabilitation instead of vengeance.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Simon Verdun-Jones
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: School of Criminology
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.

From the Dark Side of Drug Use to Ordinary Citizens

Date created: 
2016-04-25
Abstract: 

For some, Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside is notorious for its mental illness, homelessness, and most importantly, its drug scene. Drug use and addiction plagues numerous lives and it does not distinguish between age, gender or socio-economic status. To better understand the motivators behind drug use, desistance and sobriety, qualitative, semi-structured interviews were conducted with 12 participants who previously used drugs, participated in that the drug scene, and sought treatment from a Downtown Eastside treatment organization. Using the principles of the developmental and life-course theories, this study uncovers that there are numerous factors that lead an individual into drug dependency, such as the lack of parental bonding resulting from early childhood trauma and the lack of pro-social skills; thus treatment is effective if it addresses those shortcomings. In essence, treatment is a time of self- transformation, where an individual is given tools to develop responsibility and accountability. With significance placed on those tasks, and the fear of loosing that responsibility, motivation for achieving and maintaining sobriety is achieved.

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

More Than Just ‘Either Or’: Transgender Students’ Experiences with Gay-Straight Alliances in British Columbia

Date created: 
2016-04-13
Abstract: 

Gay-straight alliances (GSA) in high schools are meant to counteract homophobia and transphobia and provide LGBTQ youth with a safe environment to express their sexual or gender orientation. Limited attention, however, has been given to transgender youth and their experiences in a GSA. To address this deficiency, a qualitative interview approach with 11 participants was used. Through inductive analysis, four major themes emerged: (1) need for safe spaces; (2) developing a GSA; (3) aspects of a safe space; and (4) membership and transgenderism in GSAs. Although findings support the notion that there is a need for LGBTQ safe spaces in high schools, transgender participants expressed feelings of exclusion and marginalization in these clubs. Therefore, using transgender theory and a peacemaking criminological approach, recommendations for fostering inclusive environments, with a specific emphasis on transgender individuals, are presented and discussed.

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

Planning for Crime: Exploring the Connections between Urban Space, Development and Patterns of Crime

Date created: 
2016-04-26
Abstract: 

The built urban environment influences the spatial distribution of criminal activity. Common activity nodes are clustered in specific urban locales, drawing individuals from within and beyond municipal boundaries for legitimate, daily needs. These key nodes are connected via the street network, and are typically concentrated along major routes. Such built urban features form the origins, destinations, and pathways used by residents and visitors alike, thereby facilitating the intersection of potential offenders and targets in both space and time. Crime events have repeatedly been found to concentrate at and near key features within the built environment, though the specific patterns of clustering can vary by urban locale and urban feature. This compilation of three inter-related studies explores the connections between crime and the physical landscape within a relatively under-studied research environment: mid-sized suburban municipalities. The first study contributes a multi-scale locally based exploration of the land use and road types associated with disproportionate crime rates. These results direct the second investigation, which analyses the areas beyond each local attractor to identify whether crime concentrates in these micro-spaces as well. The final contribution applies these locally-identified relationships within a prototype modeling framework to investigate the potential impact that urban growth and development may have on both crime, and the need for police resourcing. The collective results from this work emphasize the importance of locally-based, micro-scale analysis when exploring connections between crime and the urban environment. It further highlights the need for consideration of these results within planning and policy environments, and proposes a preliminary approach to facilitate this connection.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Martin A. Andresen
Patricia L. Brantingham
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: School of Criminology
Thesis type: 
(Dissertation) Ph.D.

Victimization in the Canadian Off-Street Sex Industry

Date created: 
2015-11-03
Abstract: 

This nation-wide study examined victimization in Canadian off-street commercial sex. Working in collaboration with sex workers, I recruited 109 adult women, men and transgender sex workers to take part in a self-administered survey, and I interviewed 42 sex workers. The survey focused on rates of several forms of violence, including threats, threats with weapons, assault, sexual assault, and confinement. Other forms of victimization included: theft, harassment, the refusal to use condoms, refusal to pay full price for services provided, and pressure to provide sexual activities beyond the worker's service parameters. Participants identified the perpetrators of their victimization—clients, co-workers, bosses, police, significant others—and the frequency with which they experienced victimization. In addition, I collected biographical information and data on risk management, crime reporting practices, and the real and perceived effects of criminal, family, taxation, and immigration laws.My participants described a wide range of experiences in several types of off-street commercial sex work, including adult film, exotic dance, online adult entertainment, and fetish-related erotic labour. A majority of the participants reported never experiencing violence in the course of their sex work (68% or 74 of 109 participants). While victimization occurs in the off-street sex industry, the findings demonstrate that violence is not inherent to commercial sex exchanges. Consequently, to reduce the types and frequency of violence experienced by off-street sex workers, we need to understand the individual, contextual, and structural factors that lead to varying levels of victimization in different sectors of the sex industry. In this dissertation, I outline the existing evidence on victimization in off-street sex work and then I present the evidence gained through this study. I explain the legal implications of the findings and demonstrate how this evidence contrasts with the assumptions that form the basis of criminalization policies in Canada and globally. Finally, I describe sex workers’ recommendations to increase safety and reduce stigma in the sex industry. My participants challenged dominant and oppressive discourses about their work and suggested that the Canadian commercial sex industry is diverse and complex. Our policy responses ought to reflect a nuanced understanding of victimization in commercial sex.

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

Re-evaluating the Cantor and Land (1985) model of unemployment and crime: A multilevel analysis of multiple economic measures

Date created: 
2015-12-07
Abstract: 

The complex relationship between crime and economic change has had a long pedigree in criminological research. Much of the recent research is premised on, or critical of the Cantor and Land (1985) model of unemployment and crime, which considers the unemployment rate as representative of the state of the economy. The theoretical assumption behind the model rests on the notion that to accurately assess the unemployment-crime relationship, the impact of criminal motivation and criminal opportunity need be considered in a common framework. Accordingly, Cantor and Land (1985) developed a structural approach that synthesized the counteracting effects of motivation and opportunity into a single working model, finding that opportunity dominates motivation. Although the theory behind the empirical model is not often questioned, both methodological and empirical concerns have arisen with regard to the procedures employed by Cantor and Land (1985) and subsequent studies that rely on the Cantor and Land approach. Methodologically, researchers have questioned whether flaws in specification have contributed to mixed and inconsistent results. Empirically, testing the model using unemployment as the sole indicator of economic performance has been widely contested in the literature. This paper considers both issues as the Cantor and Land (1985) model will be evaluated using distinguished measures of unemployment and a multilevel methodological approach, with the Canadian provinces from 1981-2013 as the units of analysis. The inclusion of multiple economic measures, in addition to the comparative utility allows for a comprehensive representation of economic performance. Furthermore, multilevel regression enables greater precision in the estimates, allowing researchers to accurately analyze hierarchical data at two distinct levels. Overall, by extending the seminal work of Cantor and Land (1985) the intent is to bridge the empirical gaps in the crime-economy literature and, in doing so, provide an instructive example for the operationalization of the model in future studies. In examining the effect of multiple economic measures on eight separate crime types, support was found for the Cantor and Land (1985) model in both property and violent crimes. The results are robust to the inclusion of time as a random effect, controls for simultaneity using contextual, deterrent and variables controlling for inequality and demographics.

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

Validity of the comprehensive assessment of psychopathic personality disorder - Institutional rating scale in a Canadian sample of incarcerated serious and violent young offenders

Author: 
Date created: 
2015-12-17
Abstract: 

Psychopathy is a personality disorder typically characterized by dysfunctions relating to affect, interpersonal relationships, and behavioural style. There is debate as to whether antisocial behaviours represent a defining feature of psychopathy or secondary symptoms that are consequential to the remaining core traits. Further, there is debate as to whether the “gold standard” measure of psychopathic traits – the Psychopathy Checklist (PCL) by Hare (1991, 2003) fully represents the construct of psychopathy. Given these concerns, a new measure of psychopathic personality disorder (PPD) that is purely personality focused and which represents a more comprehensive array of psychopathic symptoms was developed by Cooke, Hart, and Logan (2005). This dissertation consists of a series of analyses that together explore the construct validity of this new instrument, the Comprehensive Assessment of Psychopathic Personality – Institutional Rating Scale (CAPP-IRS) in a sample of incarcerated serious and violent young offenders. Given that evidence supports a biological pathway towards the development of PPD, neurological development during childhood and adolescence is first discussed in order to make the case for the need to consider age-graded analyses. The first analysis then tests the theoretical structure of the CAPP-IRS using internal structural reliability analyses and a confirmatory factor analysis with 186 male and female incarcerated youth. The second analysis explores the empirical structure of the CAPP-IRS using an exploratory factor analysis with a sub-sample of 147 male incarcerated youth. The third analysis explores the convergent and divergent validity of the CAPP-IRS domains with similar and dissimilar constructs using correlational analyses in the sub-sample of male incarcerated youth. In addition to these analyses, this dissertation explores the absence of PPD from criminological theory, and discusses the historical precedence for criminologists to utilize instead the more simplistic construct of low self-control proposed by Gottfredson and Hirschi in their general theory of crime (1990). The dissertation concludes with some suggestions for integrating PPD into developmental and life-course criminological theory, and considers why this integration should be facilitated by the CAPP-IRS as opposed to the construct defined by the PCL.

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

Testing the Organized/Disorganized Model of Sexual Homicide

Author: 
Date created: 
2015-10-21
Abstract: 

The FBI’s organized/disorganized typology has been used extensively as a tool to classify sexual homicide and develop offender profiles. The classification approach, while ground-breaking and valuable to the field of criminal profiling, has not gone without criticism. It has been critiqued for its lack of empirical evidence, yet few studies have attempted to test its validity. This study examined the organized/disorganized model to determine if support exists for two discrete offender types among a sample of 350 Canadian cases of sexual homicide. Variables related to crime scene characteristics and the offender’s modus operandi were tested using K-means and latent class analyses. Results from both methods suggest that sexual murderers can be separated into two distinct profiles that share similarities with the organized/disorganized dichotomy in terms of the detection avoidance strategies, control and type of violence used by the offender. The latent class results show further support for the FBI model in relation to the offender’s approach, sexual acts, and post-mortem activities.

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

The effects of community-based supervision on juvenile recidivism: A meta-analysis of intensive supervision probation and aftercare/re-entry programs

Date created: 
2015-12-03
Abstract: 

Community correctional sentences are administered to more juvenile offenders in North America than any other judicial sentence (Hockenberry & Puzzanchera, 2014; Torbet, 1996). Particularly prominent in juvenile corrections is intensive supervision probation and aftercare/re-entry, yet the effect of these supervision-oriented interventions on recidivism is mixed. The purpose of this meta-analytic study was to determine the effect of intensive supervision probation and aftercare/re-entry on juvenile recidivism. An extensive search of the literature and the application of strict inclusion criteria resulted in the selection of 27 studies that contributed 55 individual effect sizes. Studies were pooled based on intervention type (intensive supervision probation or aftercare/re-entry) and outcome measure (alleged offenses or convicted offenses). The pooled analyses yielded contradictory results with respect to outcome measure; in both cases, supervision had a positive effect on alleged offenses and negatively impacted convicted offenses. Implications of this pattern and recommendations for future research are discussed.

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

The Rural and Remote North: An Ecological Exploration of Mental-Health-Related Police Contacts in Northern British Columbia

Date created: 
2015-12-11
Abstract: 

Past literature demonstrates that the subset of the population with mental illness is at an increased risk of contact with law enforcement. For persons with mental illness residing in areas characterized by social disorganization, this risk is even greater. Nevertheless, much research neglects to address these relationships in the framework of rural northern environments. Using census and police data, this study sought to demonstrate a relationship between social disorganization and rates of Mental Health Act (MHA) calls in northern British Columbia. In an effort to explore a possible spatial association between mental-health-related police contacts and health care accessibility, distances between the location of MHA calls and the nearest health centre were also determined. Findings suggest that social disorganization theory may not generalize to rural environments, particularly for the explanation of mental health phenomena. Furthermore, long distances to health services may impact police response to mental health emergencies in these environments.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Simon Verdun-Jones
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: School of Criminology
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.