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

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Exploring the idea of ‘values’ for a reconciliation process of Bangladesh’s liberation war: A Restorative Justice and Peacemaking Criminology Perspective

Peer reviewed: 
No, item is not peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2014-04-28
Abstract: 

The 1971 Independence War, when Bangladesh broke away from Pakistan, was one of the bloodiest conflicts in history. Official, albeit disputed, figures put the number of deaths near 3 million—a death toll half that of the Holocaust in just nine months. After the war, the then President, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman—the Father of the Nation—chose to ‘forgive and forget’; however, this blanket amnesty failed to reflect the people’s desire for justice. Four decades later, the country is bringing to trial the local Bangladeshi collaborators for war crimes tied to the Independence War. Political tensions mount as verdicts of life imprisonment and death sentence are handed down, pushing the country to the verge of protracted civil unrest. This qualitative study explores the potential of a set of values as a foundation for a future reconciliation process in Bangladesh. Drawing on their use in the transitional contexts of Rwanda and Cambodia, four restorative justice (RJ) process values—participation, empowerment, reintegration and transformation—are used as deductive variables in the study. Ten in-depth, semi-structured qualitative interviews were conducted to explore how these variables could be used to ground a future reconciliation process. Deductive and inductive findings suggest RJ process values could play a guiding role in the reconciliation. Using the values unearthed through the research, a value-based model to ground this process is also proposed.

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

Greener Social Constructions: Marie Lake, Fort Chipewyan, and the Alberta Oil Sands

Author: 
Date created: 
2014-04-22
Abstract: 

There is considerable debate in the green criminological and environmental sociological literature regarding achieving environmental reform. This dissertation contributes to the discussion through a qualitative constructivist interpretation of regional/national news media depictions of two environmental/industrial controversies. The embroiled controversies pit concerned social actors from the Alberta communities of Marie Lake and Fort Chipewyan against Canadian oil sands proponents. Using grounded theory methods and NVivo 10 software, media depictions of the controversies were examined as indicative of the dominant voices at the intersection of a public conversation about the harms caused by the oil sands industry. Very few issue entrepreneur efforts resulted in meaningful environmental reforms, but several key findings emerged. First, we must provide empowering eco-solutions for government, appreciating that politicians are particularly adept at avoiding the negativity accompanying symbolically charged environmental issues. Second, there is value in embracing human interests as a means to save nature, recognizing that social actors can appear self-serving when they affix conventional environmental concerns to anthropocentric (human-centered) causes. Third, sensationalizing isolated aspects of an environmental issue can allow attention to be diverted from fundamental environmental considerations. Fourth, issue entrepreneurs must remain cognizant of the ways in which ideology can defile science during an environmental controversy. Fifth, issue entrepreneurs must acknowledge that scientists are frequently ill prepared to portray their environmental findings against political ideology, and in the media where suspenseful stories routinely take precedence to nuanced and contextualized environmental portrayals. Sixth, it is important to depict environmental controversies in ways that cast science as only one part of a broader landscape of environmental decision-making that also acknowledges localized/first-hand experiences, and the precautionary principle. Lastly, official “truth-seeking” investigations by authoritative governmental agencies often subjugate other important avenues for understanding environmental realities. These key findings are placed in a constructivist framework entitled greener social constructions. The framework contributes to an evolving body of environmental social constructivist literature critical of ways in which journalists, policymakers, environmentalists, criminologists, and concerned publics include the environment and environmentalism in their communications. Ultimately, greener social constructions are synonymous with conceiving more compelling ways to remake the planet’s future.

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

We Deal With It Ourselves ("Wi Deal Wid it Wiself"): A Look at Life in the Jamaican Garrison

Date created: 
2014-03-21
Abstract: 

Created by the Jamaican political administration to garner support from the marginalized and socially excluded groupings in the inner city, the garrison has morphed into a counter society that subverts all forms of legitimate authority. Protected and led by dons who were originally appointed to carry out the dictates of the politicians, these men now possess full control of the garrison and have an unswerving allegiance from the members of these communities. The provision of opportunities for skills training, jobs, and education for members of these areas could possibly remove the state of dependency and ultimately the power that those possessing an abundance of wealth wield. The study includes semi-structured interviews with ten (10) participants from the community of August Town, Jamaica who provided insight into life in the garrison. Using the theory of social disorganization as a framework, the study uncovers that the Jamaican garrison is an incubator for criminals and criminal activity.

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

Substance-Induced Psychosis and Criminal Responsibility

Date created: 
2014-03-28
Abstract: 

Under investigation in this study are accused persons found to have committed criminal acts while in a state of substance-induced psychosis, where intoxication was voluntary. Its objectives were to determine the treatment at law and in practice of individuals in these circumstances, to identify any forensic and legal factors that contribute to differences in outcome in the criminal justice system, and to assess the extent to which these outcomes accord with underlying theoretical constructs and Charter values. Legal and qualitative research methodologies were employed, the latter of which took the form of interviews with criminal justice actors involved in the management of cases in British Columbia. The findings reveal a disconcerting degree of variation in approach, so much so that opposite results have been achieved in cases with relatively similar facts. In R. v. Bouchard-Lebrun, [2011] 3 S.C.R. 575, the Supreme Court of Canada clarified the law. It prescribed a legal framework for the application of the not-criminally-responsible-by-reason-of-mental-disorder defence (“NCRMD”) in cases involving substance-induced psychosis. Significant questions remain, however, not least of which is the constitutionality of the guilt-by-proxy regime embodied in section 33.1 of the Criminal Code. More problematic is the question of whether forensic psychiatrists are in a position to provide evidence of the relative impact of substance use and underlying neurobiological factors, and whether a prevailing lack of confidence in the forensic mental health system will deter legal counsel from recommending the defence of NCRMD, even if that evidence becomes available. The study concludes with recommendations for law reform and future research.

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

Crime Prevention and the Youth Community Project in Greater Vancouver: A Practicum Review Analysis of a Post-adjudication Intervention Program

Author: 
Date created: 
2014-04-09
Abstract: 

The Youth Community Project (YCP) is an initiative undertaken by the John Howard Society of the Lower Mainland in British Columbia. This program targets high-risk youth and attempts to prevent recidivism through intervention methods emerging out of evidence-based practice. This paper provides an overview of successful crime prevention initiatives targeting young offenders in Canada, demonstrating the theoretical underpinnings of a social development approach. Through a focus on post-adjudication interventions, an examination of evidence-based practices reveals the potential of programs aligning with the principles of the risk-need-responsivity (RNR) model of offender rehabilitation, particularly those following an integrated service delivery model. As a recognized alternative and/or supplement to custodial supervision, YCP is a promising approach to the reduction of recidivism among juvenile offenders in the greater Vancouver region. Adherence to RNR principles and adoption of evidence-based practices will contribute to its success in the field of post-adjudication intervention.

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

Linked lives: the role of the mother in the intergenerational transmission of aggression and antisocial behaviour

Author: 
Date created: 
2014-02-07
Abstract: 

The current dissertation examines the role of the mother in the intergenerational transmission of aggression and antisocial behaviour. More specifically, the link between maternal juvenile delinquency, adult offending, and the development of children’s physical aggression in the early childhood period is investigated. This dissertation adopts a life-course framework to explore two particularly important life experiences that are especially relevant for many women: pregnancy and motherhood. Considering the negative adult outcomes that many female juvenile delinquents experience (e.g., social adversity, substance abuse, mental health problems), risky maternal behaviours during pregnancy, and difficulties with parenting are examined as potential mechanisms underlying the intergenerational transmission of antisocial behaviour. This dissertation consists of three distinct, yet related empirical studies based on a sample of mothers and their preschool children. The sample is drawn from the Vancouver Longitudinal Study on the Psychosocial Development of Children. Study I of this dissertation explored how mothers with a history of juvenile delinquency experience pregnancy. It was found that they are more likely to use substances while pregnant, and their children are more likely to be physically aggressive. Study II examined specific patterns of maternal parenting practices. It was found that these practices are linked with maternal adult offending, mental health problems (e.g., depressive and anxious symptoms), cultural background (non-Caucasian ethnicity), and children’s aggression. Study III focused on the persistence of children’s physical aggression during the preschool years, and found that maternal criminogenic, mental health and parenting factors are related to the development of children’s aggression. Importantly, cultural differences were found when comparing the predictors of children’s aggression for mothers born in North America and those born elsewhere. Taken together, the three studies suggest that there is significant intergenerational transmission of aggression and antisocial behaviour from mother to child, and it emerges from the earliest developmental periods. Moreover, important cultural differences were identified, which have several implications for policy and treatment.

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

A qualitative study of police interactions as perceived by people living with mental disorder

Date created: 
2014-01-17
Abstract: 

Police officers are often the first responders to individuals in crises. Understanding the dynamic interaction between police and persons living with mental illness is critical to developing interventions and appropriate services for this population. Using procedural justice theory, this study involves a qualitative thematic analysis of interviews conducted with 60 people living with mental illness regarding their interactions with police officers. The results indicate that common factors influence how the experience is evaluated and contributes to individual perceptions of police. These include experiences of stigma, having a voice, respect, compassion, and the use of violence. Participants identify mental health education as an important element of police training while also emphasizing the need for increased collaboration between police and health authorities. This study finds support for procedural justice theory insofar as the way that the participants were treated aside from the outcome, mattered in their overall perception of police legitimacy.

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

Police shootings in Ontario: how social, psychological and situational factors lead to pulling the trigger

Author: 
Date created: 
2013-11-13
Abstract: 

Police use of deadly force has long been a source of public and governmental concern. This thesis examines the social, psychological and situational factors associated with police shootings in Ontario during the period from January 2004 to December 2012. Police firearm discharge data from Ontario’s Special Investigations Unit is examined from a qualitative and quantitative perspective. An examination of the data reveals that police responding to domestic violence calls led to the largest proportion of police shootings, followed by robberies. The majority of police shooting victims were male and armed with edged weapons. Mentally ill individuals showed a significantly higher risk of being killed in police shootings than non-mentally ill individuals. This thesis discusses the implications of these findings for police training and policy. More resources should be made available towards de-escalation and mental health training for police officers. Non-lethal weapons such as Tasers should be deployed to more frontline officers to provide alternatives to deadly force. The implications of these findings for Ontario’s civilian police oversight agency are also discussed. The Special Investigations Unit should make more of its findings available to the public, such as ethnographic data.

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

From getting in to getting out: The role of pre-gang context and group processes in analyzing turning points in gang trajectories

Date created: 
2013-11-01
Abstract: 

Drawing from a mixed-methods approach, the current dissertation examines the sequential process of gang membership, from gang entry to gang disengagement. The dissertation is driven by three interrelated aims. First, the study aims to assess whether variations in opportunities for membership and the nature of gang entry are related to pre-membership factors. Second, it aims to investigate whether gangs’ organizational structures and group processes are associated with the nature of their criminal opportunities. Third, it explores the relationship of both individual and group factors to the disengagement process. The study uses retrospective self-reported and official data gathered from a sample of 73 gang members involved in the Study on Incarcerated Serious and Violent Young Offender in Burnaby, British Columbia. Results suggest that being embedded in a criminal social environment facilitates early entry into gangs but not avoidance of an initiation in gangs that require them. A need for recognition and respect is associated with late entry and the occurrence of an initiation. A closer look into the initiation events described by participants revealed three general types: (1) the ego violent event, (2) the crime commission, and (3) the expressive violence towards others. An ego violent initiation was more frequent among younger prospective members and those who were coerced into joining. Individuals who were looking for respect were more likely to be required to perpetrate an act of violence toward someone in order to get in. No individual characteristics were associated with crime commission type. In terms of group characteristics, nature of initiation is not associated with any type of gang organizational structure: both organized and less organized gangs may initiate their members and do so in similar ways. Type of initiation, however, was found to reflect the nature of the criminal activities of the gangs. In terms of gang desistance, internal gang violence and pre-membership criminal social environment both facilitated the persistence of membership and delay in disengagement from gangs. The dissertation addresses the theoretical and policy implications of such findings.

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

Is Facial Attractiveness a Factor in Victimization Involving Robbery/Theft?

Date created: 
2013-12-11
Abstract: 

Researchers have found that attractive faces are associated with qualities of goodness, honesty, warmth, and being more socially desirable. Physically attractive individuals experience several advantages (i.e., occupational success, criminal justice system decisions, interpersonal relationships) compared to average and unattractive individuals. Facial attractiveness has been found to be a predictor of victimization for females in relation to sexual assault. To date, facial attractiveness involving male victims has not been studied. The purpose of this study was to determine whether facial attractiveness influences an offender’s choice when selecting a male victim to commit robbery or theft against. The sample consisted of two hundred participants that ranged in age from 18 to 75 years old. Participants were asked to fill out an online survey comprised of a Facial Victim/Offender Survey and the Ten-Item Personality Inventory. Facial attractiveness did play a role in victimization. Facially attractive male victims were perceived as possessing more socially desirable qualities and more likely to be employed. Both male and female participants selected facially attractive males for the vignette offenders to victimize compared to average and unattractive male victims. Overall, this research provides evidence that facial attractiveness is related to offender victim-selection.

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