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

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Assessing the future of maintenance treatment in Canada in an international context: an analysis of current initiatives and historical practices - 1900 to 2010

Author: 
Date created: 
2015-04-16
Abstract: 

The treatment of addiction poses a significant challenge. This challenge is a result of the complexity of addiction itself as a health problem and because a full understanding of what causes addiction is something that still eludes researchers and clinicians. Add to this situation the reality that addiction is an issue with significant political, social and legal dimensions and its treatment becomes complicated. This complexity evokes questions about why different forms of treatment are advanced, accepted or rejected. This dissertation provides insight into this through an examination of heroin maintenance. The dissertation is a study of the history of heroin maintenance, including present-day developments, across a number of nations. Its purpose is to identify a set of forces that can explain recent experimentation with heroin maintenance and offer insight into its sustainability in Canada. Six countries are included: Canada, the US, the UK, the Netherlands, Germany and Switzerland. A mixed method, qualitative approach is employed and relies on three data sources: 1) health and sociology-oriented literature, 2) archival data from government departments and addiction treatment agencies, and 3) interviews with heroin maintenance trial stakeholders. Using the work of David Garland and the critical literature on harm reduction as a theoretical framework, a number of social and political forces have been identified as essential to the implementation of heroin maintenance. These include: 1) models of drug control, 2) perspectives on addiction and its treatment, 3) drug-related crises/epidemics, 4) pragmatism and evidence, 5) how heroin maintenance is framed, 6) local support and action, 7) political environments, 8) international developments/ pressures, and 9) the extent of medical ownership of addiction, professional influence and expert advocacy. These forces all interact to produce conditions that are either favourable for introducing heroin maintenance or inhibit its use. An analysis of the current Canadian context based on these factors suggests that the sustainability of heroin maintenance is questionable. A drug policy environment increasingly guided by social conservativism and declining political, public and professional attention to heroin addiction may impede moving such a controversial and expensive service from a research setting to a routine treatment option in Canada.

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

Becoming a medicinal marijuana user: applying Becker's analysis of recreational cannabis users to a medicinal framework

Author: 
Date created: 
2015-03-27
Abstract: 

This study examines the process involved in becoming a medicinal marijuana patient, drawing upon Becker’s (1953) analysis of recreational marijuana users as a guide. Semi-structured open ended qualitative interviews were conducted with a purposively chosen sample (n=22) of medical marijuana patients currently using cannabis to alleviate symptom(s) of an underlying medical condition(s). Nine participants (50%) describe a seamless transition without any period of desistance, seven participants (39%) indicate a period of desistance between recreational use and medicinal use, and two participants (11%) indicated that they had a period of cessation or fragmented use after the onset of their symptoms or after acknowledging a medicinal benefit and then resumed medicinal use at a later point. Despite the different pathways individuals may take to become medical cannabis patients (i.e. life course persistent versus those with a period of cessation between their phases) it is evident that one’s recreational experience alone does not provide sufficient knowledge and understanding to effectively treat one’s medical symptoms. All participants engaged in some form of learning post transition. Participants received limited information from their health care providers regarding the therapeutic use of cannabis. They often had to seek out information on their own, either through social avenues such as like minded peers or dispensary staff, but also through their own independent research and experimentation. Overall, treating one’s symptoms with cannabis is a complex undertaking and is subject to change as individual needs, preferences, and access to product changes. Patients who access cannabis through different means- the Federal program, dispensaries, and or compassion clubs- would benefit greatly from more knowledgeable health care providers.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Neil Boyd
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences:
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.

Crime seasonality: exploring the annual temporal and spatial patterns of property crime in Vancouver, BC and Ottawa, ON

Date created: 
2015-04-27
Abstract: 

It is in the best interest of policy makers to understand not only which crime prevention methods are most effective, but also when and where they are appropriate to apply. This study investigates whether seasonal variation exists temporally across different property crime types and whether these same offences possess micro-spatial patterns that vary substantially over the calendar year. A series of OLS regressions and spatial point pattern tests were employed to examine the corresponding temporal and spatial patterns of crime in two Canadian cities with differing climates, namely Vancouver, BC and Ottawa, ON. Overall, results suggest that: (a) property crimes exhibit distinct temporal peaks in humid continental climates (i.e. Ottawa) and not in temperate ones (i.e. Vancouver); (b) regardless of climate, micro-spatial patterns of property crime remain relatively constant throughout the year; and (c) the seasonal variations of crime should be studied at a disaggregate level.

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

The role of peer drug users’ social networks and harm reduction programs in changing the dynamics of life for people who use drugs in the downtown eastside of Vancouver, Canada

Author: 
Date created: 
2015-04-15
Abstract: 

The Downtown Eastside (DTES) of Vancouver, Canada has been the epicentre of HIV, hepatitis C and drug overdose related to People who inject drugs (PWIDs) since the mid1990s. In response to the growing government inaction, numbers of peer-run organizations were formed. This dissertation was conducted to capture the genesis and influence of peer drug users, their networks and harm reduction programs over the past 18 years in shaping the neighborhood. Semi-structured qualitative interviews were conducted with peers from various harm reduction volunteer locations in the DTES. Moreover, various drug users were recruited from a controversial harm reduction program in the DTES that provides pharmaceutical heroin. Interviews were analyzed thematically using two methods of coding analysis. Findings suggest that peers were taking on important education and safety roles, and were able to alter the behaviour, attitude, and intention of injection drug users within the DTES area of the city. Further, peer injection drug users were able to reach individuals who were reluctant to seek medical help, housing, and prevention services. Peers serve as an agent of change in the DTES to disseminate information and risk reduction skills to the most marginalized people. Peer drug users have not only been able to change the discriminatory rhetoric but they have been able to reduce the suffering that drug users have endured as a consequence of the war on drugs. Attending heroin trials in Vancouver has been particularly effective in creating a unique microenvironment where PWIDs who have attended heroin trials have been able to form a collective identity advocating for their rights. In physical terms, the DTES has become cleaner and safer for its residents because of availability of an injection facility and numerous peer-run harm reduction programs. In conceptual terms, PWIDs are less likely to experience discrimination by the city, hospital, and police. Moreover, the residents in the new DTES are more likely to be involved in their civic issues and raise concerns in a new political arena. Peer-run harm reduction programs have given a voice to the most marginalized members of society who otherwise would not be represented. The result of this dissertation and costing analyses conducted point to the need for the expansion of the peer and harm reduction programs beyond the current location in the DTES to other locations in Canada such as Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Saskatoon and Victoria.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Martin A. Andresen
Department: 
Arts and Social Sciences:
Thesis type: 
(Dissertation) Ph.D.

Examining police officer safety at domestic violence calls

Author: 
Date created: 
2015-03-30
Abstract: 

The police occupation is viewed as dangerous; police officers work in adverse environments that include dealing with individuals with a mental illness or under the influence alcohol and/or drugs, arresting criminals, the potential for assault by criminals, and responding to traumatic scenes. Officers regularly attend domestic violence calls that include many of the above factors. Qualitative in-depth, semi-structured interviews were conducted with 15 police officers working in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia to better understand officer perceptions of the dangers associated with attending domestic violence calls. The majority of officers viewed domestic violence calls as one of the more dangerous calls that they attend, largely because of their unpredictable nature. Prevalent themes emerging from the data include volatile emotions, victims turning against officers, dangers of entering an unknown residence, alcohol use contributing to irrational or aggressive behaviour, and the challenges for officers working in rural areas.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Rick Parent
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences:
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.

In or Out?: The Impact of Discursive and Behavioural Performance on Identity Construction among Chicanas in Gangs

Author: 
Date created: 
2015-03-26
Abstract: 

Despite the growing interest in female gang membership, there is a gap in the literature regarding the continual identity shifts that occur throughout Chicana female gang association, affiliation, and, especially during the disengagement process. This study seeks to understand the ways in which formerly gang-affiliated Chicanas negotiate their experiences and interactions and how these are implicated in their understanding of their own subjectivity. The research was conducted through twenty-four unstructured interviews with formerly gang-affiliated Chicanas involved with a prominent gang prevention/intervention organization in the Boyle Heights neighbourhood of East Los Angeles, and through observations conducted within the organization and within the neighbourhood. The results demonstrate that identity is in a constant state of flux. The homegirls in this study were able to describe the ways in which their subjectivities have been (co)constructed in ways that were temporally and spatially relevant and how their interactions with the social environment, their communities, families, and their homeboys and homegirls were also implicated. Homegirls explained how their identities changed through different periods in their lives. From “doing gang” in their hoods and among their homeboys and homegirls, to performing gender and sexuality in prison, and then (re)constructing their raced, classed, and gendered identities as they negotiated the process of disengaging from the gang, participants demonstrated how their experiences and interactions played a role in their worldviews, the ways in which they understood their own subjectivities, and how these perceptions inform(ed) their decisions, both past and present. Many of the findings support the extant literature describing the role of discursive and behavioral expression(s) in the (co)construction of identity, on an individual level and for “others.” Specifically, marginalized girls/women are subject to engaging in social practices in order to avoid rejection within their social milieu. The findings reveal that while gang-affiliated Chicanas do experience multiple forms of marginalization like many gang-affiliated girls/women, they have the added dimension of socio-cultural positioning. In other words, these women must actively negotiate the traditions, values, and expectations of two cultures: Mexican and American—a process that leads to a Chola identity and subculture.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Ted Palys
Department: 
Arts and Social Sciences:
Thesis type: 
(Dissertation) Ph.D.

The Subjectivities of the Female Lawbreaker in Visual Culture: Cinematic Trajectories of Representation in the Exploitation, Hollywood, and Independent Film in Depictions of the Carceral World

Date created: 
2014-11-28
Abstract: 

In a consumerist driven culture, crime interweaves within the everyday fabric of leisurely consumption of the filmic artefact, as a culturally constructed entertainment commodity that contours our understandings of the female penal subject and the closed world of the prison – performatively enacted on the visual screen. It is important to investigate popular cultural mediums such as film, because the epistemology created from mediated representations reaches a far greater audience than that generated from academic criminological research endeavours. The dissertation is a critical, analytical, deconstructive inquiry into the cinematic constructions of the lawbreaker/prisoner, across three diverse and interlocking film-making forms: exploitation, Hollywood, and contemporary independent. A feminist-grounded theory methodology was employed to examine a historized database of 22 titles within a complexly integrative framework that unveiled a profusion of prisoners’ subjectivities (categorical constructions); emergent within varied manifestations of the prison and themes (criminological and otherwise), and affirmed in enveloping discourses and theoretical constructs. A multi-analytical, interrogative focus of single filmic texts emphasized particular areas, including the micro-aspects of textual aesthetic expressions (visual, dialogical, narratological, performative and thematic), the meso-milieu of ethnographic ‘voices’ of film industry personnel and the broader macro-level domains (historical, socio-political, cultural and criminological) that envelope and contour the film-making process. Cyberspace supplementary textual sources included 1,161 film reviews. The dissertation findings reveal that prisoners are multiply-constituted subjects; intersectionally located, contextually specific and situated in unequal relations of power. Across the mediascape of women-in-prison titles, the delineated film-making forms create varied and recycled subjectivities; from the fantastical, clichéd ‘othered’ archetypes in exploitation cinema, to the fictitiously personified, ‘normative’ womanhood in Hollywoodized tales. Conversely, the independent film symbolizes a critical image practice of resistance that creates alternatively distinctive, empowering embodiments of prisoners which not only reflect contextualized moments of authenticity in prisoners’ marginalized, experiential lives, but which serve also to demystify the corrosive, oppressive and seemingly denaturalized subjectivities found in the former filmic forms. The praxological research outcomes aim to encourage the filmic viewer to consume representations with a more critical cinephilic eye that challenges problematic representations which appear to reflect an existing unquestioned, taken-for-granted reality regarding the penal subject.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
William Glackman
Department: 
Arts and Social Sciences: Criminology
Thesis type: 
(Dissertation) Ph.D.

Finding an Appropriate Balance: A Comparison of Specialized and Traditional Probation Caseloads and their Related Outcomes for Young Offenders in British Columbia

Peer reviewed: 
No, item is not peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2014-10-08
Abstract: 

A major youth justice policy issue in Canada is the management of young offenders who are mentally disordered, violent, and/or gang-involved. As probation is the most commonly applied youth sentence in Canada, specialized youth probation caseloads were introduced to meet the unique needs of these young offenders. These youth probation officers are assigned reduced caseloads, thereby facilitating more intensive supervision and individualized case management plans. The present study focuses on two specialized youth probation caseloads in Vancouver, British Columbia: the Serious-Violent/Gang-Involved Young Offender Caseload and the Mentally Disordered Young Offender Caseload. To determine whether the supervision received and the outcomes of specially supervised youth are different than those for youth supervised on traditional caseloads, this dissertation relies on data from 192 youth probationers’ case files assigned to a specialized or a traditional caseload in the Lower Mainland, between 2004 and 2011, and who had a mental health condition, a serious-violent conviction, or who were associated with a criminal organization. In addition, it includes seven semi-structured qualitative interviews with the youth probation officers who supervised the specialized caseloads. This mixed methodology permitted a careful examination of the in-depth profiles and specific typologies of the youth probationers; an evaluation of the practices employed by the specialist officers; and finally, an assessment of the outcomes of the youth probationers supervised by specialist probation officers compared to youth supervised by traditional probation officers, as measured through recidivism, chronic offending, and changes in risk assessment ratings. Several of the proposed research hypotheses were confirmed, as specially supervised youth probationers, overall, received more intensive supervision, as compared to youth who were assigned to traditional caseloads. Moreover, they had reduced probabilities of recidivism, had lower likelihoods of becoming chronic offenders, and had comparatively better risk assessment ratings than the traditionally managed young offenders. This research provides important implications related to the community supervision of mentally disordered and violent/gang young offenders, and recommendations for continued and future youth probation practices and policies are offered.

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

A qualitative study of the issues that govern the compensation process for wrongful convictions

Date created: 
2014-12-08
Abstract: 

Compensation for wrongful convictions in Canada is an ad hoc process that must be reformed. Once exonerated, wrongfully convicted persons deserve reasonable and expeditious compensation awards for the miscarriage of justice that they have suffered. This study involves the use of two qualitative methods to investigate the compensation process for wrongful convictions in Canada. First, a review of archival records was performed based on the examination of a number of wrongful conviction cases, along with assessments of the compensation recommendations from the seven Commissions of Inquiry into wrongful convictions in five Canadian provinces. Second, in-depth interviews were conducted with prominent legal and government experts on compensation for wrongful convictions. This study provides a forum for continued exploration of this societal problem, with the objectives of heightening awareness of its nature and scope and proposing recommendations for an improved compensation scheme.

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

Assessing Security Threats to Canada's Energy Infrastructure: The Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline

Date created: 
2014-07-29
Abstract: 

Safe and secure critical infrastructure is essential for the functioning of Canada's society. A robust system of infrastructure allows Canada to be a leader on the world stage but also presents potential security risks. Using open source data, this paper identifies why energy infrastructure is the ideal target for malicious attack and includes a focus on the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline. Using the Harmonized Threat and Risk Assessment Methodology, to perform a risk based analysis; the likelihood of an attack on the Northern Gateway was assessed. A risk rating of low to medium was found, with a variety of vulnerabilities and possible threat actors identified.

Document type: 
Graduating extended essay / Research project
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Bryan Kinney
Department: 
Arts & Social Sciences: School of Criminology
Thesis type: 
(Project) M.A.