Theses and Dissertations - Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice

Permanent URI for this collection


Recent Submissions

Now showing 1 - 20 of 31
  • Item
    A Linguistic Analysis of Mass Shooter Journals, Diaries, Correspondence, and Manifestos
    (University of Alabama Libraries, 2020) Duong, Hillary; Lankford, Adam; University of Alabama Tuscaloosa
    Mass shootings often result in panic and calls for increased public safety. Past research has focused on the motives and ambitions of the shooters in hopes of determining their rationale for prevention, while other studies have looked to create a consistent mass shooter profile using artifacts such as suicide notes, medical history, and/or testimonies from the shooters’ friends and family. Written communications by mass shooters (suicide notes, manifestos, diaries, journals, and letters) are a pivotal resource because they allow researchers to investigate the shooters’ motives from their point of view while also providing data for analysis. This study looked to examine the written communications of mass shooters through linguistic analysis to answer the following research questions. First, what are some of the common themes found in the written communications of mass shooters. Second, for each of the common themes found, do mass shooters who expressed that theme differ from those who did not with regards to select linguistic dimensions? I identified the writing themes in each writing sample, then quantitatively assessed linguistic word categories using the Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count (LIWC) tool for content analysis. Using an independent samples t test, I found mass shooters who expressed suicidal desires were less likely to use words referencing the past than mass shooters who did not express suicidal desires. This study looked to contribute to the body of literature by applying the writing themes found in earlier studies to the written communications of strictly mass shooters.
  • Item
    Prison dog training programs linked to positive prison social climate
    (University of Alabama Libraries, 2021) McNeil, Erin Terese; Dolliver, Matthew J.; University of Alabama Tuscaloosa
    While dog training programs have spread into prisons across the United States and have received substantial attention in both media and qualitative research, few studies have looked to quantify their effects on the prison environment. Using available outcome studies, the present study assessed the relationship between participation in a dog training program and prison social climate through a quantitative meta-analysis (N=9). The meta-analysis includes studies relating to two of the three elements of prison social climate as defined by Ross et al. (2008) in their factor pattern analysis but excludes the third element, environmental quality of life, due to an absence of research into those outcomes. The results demonstrated that a small to moderate effect size exists in the relationship between participation in a dog training program and a more positive prison social climate (g=0.204, SE=0.068, 95% CI= [0.005, 0.069]). While the results are promising, future research is needed to determine whether the relationship is causal or merely correlational.
  • Item
    Prison sex: is TV getting it right or not?
    (University of Alabama Libraries, 2019) Storey, Epiphany; Daquin, Jane C.; University of Alabama Tuscaloosa
    Although prison victimization – specifically sexual victimization – is a taboo subject, it is receiving more national attention than in the past. Despite the increased attention there is still limited research examining public perceptions of prison sexual victimization. The focus of this study is to examine media depictions of prison sexual victimization. Specifically, the study examines whether the depictions of victimization in the media vary based on gender and the media platform on which the television show appears. This research sheds light on the accuracy of media depictions as it relates to the scholarly literature as well as examines whether federal standards for broadcast influence media representations. A content analysis was conducted using three television shows: Prison Break, Orange is the New Black, and Oz. The current study found that there are gender differences in number of depictions of prison sexual victimization as well as the nature of those depictions. The findings also revealed that shows that are not subject to federal regulations display many more representations of sexual victimization than shows under federal guidelines. Lastly, the study found that the media more accurately depicts perpetrators of prison sexual victimization than victims of such acts
  • Item
    Gender differences in prison program involvement and inmate misconduct
    (University of Alabama Libraries, 2019) Rude, Amanda Taylor; Johnson, Ida M.; University of Alabama Tuscaloosa
    The majority of current literature surrounding prison program involvement and inmate behavior focuses on recidivism, this study adds to the current literature by exploring the impact that involvement in different types of programs have on inmate misconduct. The limited research on the relationship between types of programs (e.g. educational, parenting, and religious programs) and inmate misconduct has yielded inconsistent findings and a majority of them were conducted on samples of male inmates only. This study aims to fill the gap in the existing literature centered on prison program involvement and inmate misconduct by utilizing samples of both male and female inmates (housed in federal and state prisons) to assess the gender differences in relation to program involvement and inmate misconduct. The Survey of Inmates in State and Federal Correctional Facilities 2004 data were used to generate a sample of approximately 13,000 male and 3,500 female inmates. The results of multiple logistic regressions indicate that prison programs do significantly impact inmate misconduct; however, the direction of impact differs according to specific programs and gender.
  • Item
    When to call the police?: how crime type and contextual factors impact crime reporting
    (University of Alabama Libraries, 2019) Sharo, Carol Ann; Kearns, Erin; University of Alabama Tuscaloosa
    Crime reporting is vital for community safety, yet many crimes are not reported to police. What factors impact a citizen’s decision whether or not to report crime? Extant literature has focused on between-person likelihood to report a single, abstract crime. This body of research has found that crime reporting varies across racial groups and by a persons’ views of police. Yet, it is not clear how contextual factors impact within-person variation in likelihood to report crime. Using a survey-embedded experiment with a national sample (n=1900), I examine factors that impact within-person variance in likelihood to report crimes across series of scenarios. These scenarios vary on crime type, police response, and community reaction to create 72 possible combinations. Each participant was presented with a series crime pairs and was asked which scenario they would be more likely to report to police in each pair. Participants were then prompted to elaborate on the reasons behind their choice in an open-ended response that I coded for analysis. Results indicate that the contextual factors of crime type, police response, and community reaction were influential in the decision to report a crime scenario. Keywords: crime reporting, police, race, community norms
  • Item
    Double stigma: how jurors perceive mentally ill defendants
    (University of Alabama Libraries, 2019) Kortright, Kelly Elizabeth; Kenney, Jennifer; University of Alabama Tuscaloosa
    The media has had a long history of portraying mentally ill individuals as a danger to the community and others, feeding the public imagery, which may contribute to the perceived criminalization of mental illness. While the link between criminality and mental illness has long been acknowledged, it is not yet fully understood. The aim of the current study was to understand how mental health diagnoses and offense type may change the recommended disposition and perceived level of dangerousness of the offender by potential jury members. An online survey was administered to 142 undergraduate students enrolled in two randomly selected introductory courses to criminal justice at The University of Alabama. Participants received one of six experimental vignettes that varied by portrayed mental health diagnosis and portrayed offense. Participants saw a significant difference between no mental health diagnosis and any mental health diagnosis when recommending a disposition and when estimating dangerousness. Participants also saw a significant difference between theft and simple assault when estimating dangerousness. These findings suggest that the label of mentally ill does play a role when recommending a disposition and estimating dangerousness. Implications from the current study include furthering the education of the general public to steer away from the common misconceptions that the mentally ill are inherently dangerous, and how traditional criminal justice sanctions, such as prison, may not be adequately prepared to house and treat mentally ill offenders.
  • Item
    Recreation and delinquency: an examination of the relationship between organized and unorganized recreational activity and types of delinquency
    (University of Alabama Libraries, 2018) Mondeh, Tamba; Williams, Jimmy John; Daquin, Jane C.; University of Alabama Tuscaloosa
    Recreational activity, whether organized or unorganized, has an interesting relationship with delinquency. Generally, research shows that delinquent youth were less likely to participate in organized recreational activity (Burgess, Shanas, & Dunning, 1942; Landers & Landers, 1978; Yin, Katims, & Zapata, 1999). Furthermore, delinquent students were found to be more likely to participate in unorganized activity, socialize with friends, and were less likely to participate in home-based recreational activity. Drawing on the previous research, this proposed study would examine the relationship between recreational activity and delinquency. This study aims to advance the existing literature on this relationship by utilizing the social bond theoretical framework. Data will be derived from the first and third waves of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health. The in-home questionnaire includes measures of recreational activity, academic outcomes, behavioral outcomes, and demographic information. This study aims to help inform criminal justice, educational, and recreational policy.
  • Item
    Students' attitudes toward marijuana legalization and law enforcement
    (University of Alabama Libraries, 2018) Fisher, Taylor Shae; Johnson, Ida M.; University of Alabama Tuscaloosa
    The legalization of recreational marijuana is a policy change that eight states have recently enacted, providing a tax revenue that greatly benefits the states in which marijuana is legalized. While the state of Alabama has been slow to consider the legalization of recreational marijuana, there have been efforts to enact lesser penalties and legalize the medical use of cannabis. Citizens’ attitudes regarding legislation of any kind have been found to have an effect on their relationship with police officers. This current study examines college students’ attitudes regarding the legalization of recreational marijuana and their attitudes towards police officers. An online survey was administered to 314 undergraduate students enrolled in an Introduction to Criminal Justice course at The University of Alabama. The results found that 65% of college students supported the legalization of marijuana in Alabama and that the support for legalization was significantly related to students’ attitudes towards police officers. Policy implications suggest that non-legalization of marijuana will lead to less support for law enforcement by an important sector of the population.
  • Item
    Analyzing the attitudes of law students towards sex offenders
    (University of Alabama Libraries, 2017) Trull, Valerie Elisabeth; Reid, Lesley Williams; University of Alabama Tuscaloosa
    A significant amount of research has aimed to determine attitudes towards sex offenders and treatment for sex offenders, especially for those involved in the criminal justice system. Researchers have utilized the Community Attitudes Towards Sex Offenders (CATSO) and Attitudes Towards the Treatment of Sex Offenders (ATTSO) scales to measure attitudes of many populations, including law enforcement, corrections officers, parole boards, as well as general communities. To this point, the attitudes of those most directly involved in the courtroom— lawyers and judges—have not been addressed. As future jurists, law students can provide some insight into these attitudes. This study will attempt to determine the attitudes of a group of law students from The University of Alabama, and see if those attitudes can be changed through education.
  • Item
    Sources of strain experienced by homegrown jihadist terrorists
    (University of Alabama Libraries, 2017) Sikes, Michael; Lankford, Adam; University of Alabama Tuscaloosa
    The United States is not immune to the threat of homegrown jihadist terrorism. The issue demands more attention with each successful attack. Identifying individuals before they radicalize and commit acts of violence is a significant challenge. This study advances that effort by analyzing strain among homegrown jihadist terrorists. Although it is widely assumed that the lives of homegrown jihadist terrorists are uniquely different, the results show otherwise. The most common pressures and stresses experienced by terrorists are very much the same as other Americans and Muslim Americans. Clarifying these misconceptions will help eliminate biases and guide counterterrorism strategy towards evidence based solutions.
  • Item
    Reporting behaviors of women inmates
    (University of Alabama Libraries, 2017) Surrell, April Marie; Johnson, Ida M.; University of Alabama Tuscaloosa
    Sexual assault within the correctional system has been a constant issue in America since its creation. While special protections are supposed to be provided for vulnerable populations such as inmates, research shows that for many inmates in prisons around the country, adequate protection against inappropriate sexual behaviors is not ensured. The best way to ensure inmates’ protection is to have a reporting system in place, but this system can only work if the inmates trust the system and feel that it is legitimate enough for them to utilize it. If inmates do not file reports, there is a systematic issue with the prison’s reporting system that must be addressed. The present study was conducted by interviewing 40 women inmates in the Birmingham Work Release Facility in Birmingham, Alabama and it examined how comfortable inmates were with reporting inappropriate sexual behavior when it happens, and when the report is made, how they felt it was handled. The study found that after the Department of Justice settlement agreement made with the Alabama Department of Corrections that mandated changes to be made in the treatment of sexual assault within their facilities, women inmates felt more comfortable reporting abuse; however, reporting was highly dependent on the facility they were incarcerated in and the level of trust they had in the correctional staff. The conclusions of the study allow researchers to better understand the problem of inappropriate sexual behaviors in prisons as it relates to the reporting systems in place and be able to take meaningful steps to improve the safety of inmates in prisons today. Keywords: Women’s prisons, sexual assault, legitimacy and trust, sexual assault reporting, PREA
  • Item
    The role of procedural justice in international tribunals: a study of six international tribunals and their prosecution of perpetrators of genocide
    (University of Alabama Libraries, 2017) Poston, Alexis Anne; Lankford, Adam; University of Alabama Tuscaloosa
    Genocide studies have recently become an academic phenomenon. However, it is a field that is lacking a criminological perspective. In retrospect, one finds that the field of criminology has also largely neglected to study the crime of genocide. This study attempts to close this gap by adding to the current, yet limited, research regarding procedural justice in international tribunals aimed at prosecuting perpetrators of genocide. This study uses Tom Tyler’s (1990) theory of procedural justice, focusing on three of the primary principles (1) voice, (2) neutrality in decision-making, and (3) trustworthy actions and concern for those without power to analyze the arguments of fair and just tribunals that followed six of the world’s largest genocides. The six tribunals included are the Turkish Military Tribunal that followed the Armenian genocide, the International Military Tribunal of the Nuremberg Trials which followed the Holocaust, the first court that followed the Indonesian genocide, the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia which followed the Cambodian genocide, the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia that followed the ethnic cleansing in Yugoslavia, and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda that followed the Rwandan genocide.
  • Item
    Does appearance matter?: the effect of skin tones on trustworthy and innocent appearances
    (University of Alabama Libraries, 2017) Birdsong, Conner Key; Johnson, Ida M.; University of Alabama Tuscaloosa
    Decades of research show that among first time offenders Blacks receive a harsher punishment in general than Whites, even after controlling for legally relevant and non-relevant factors. Sentencing disparities between Blacks and Whites contain the presence of colorism. Color is an important component of individual appearance and could send attitudes about one’s demeanor, values, remorse, honesty, and even guilt (Burch, 2015). The current research aims to examine the relationship between the skin tone of capital case inmates and perceived levels of trustworthiness and innocent appearances. Photographs of convicted capital case inmates were shown to undergraduate, entry-level criminal justice students to determine whether the skin tones of capital case inmates influence their views of trustworthiness and innocent appearances. These views were obtained by rating the photographs of capital inmates on two scales measuring levels of trustworthiness and innocence. An analysis of variance was conducted to compare mean ratings of trustworthiness and innocence for each skin tone category. The results revealed a significant relationship between skin tone and perceived levels of trustworthiness. Specifically, student raters rated a light skin photograph higher on trustworthiness when a light skin photograph preceded a dark skin photograph. A discussion of these results, policy implications, and limitations are reviewed. Keywords: colorism, appearance, skin tone, trustworthiness, innocence
  • Item
    Guilty or not guilty - trust, affect, & cognition in mock juror decision making
    (University of Alabama Libraries, 2017) Young, Akeisha; Williams, Jimmy John; University of Alabama Tuscaloosa
    Legitimacy, more specifically, trust in legal authorities and procedural fairness, has garnered a great deal of significance in the legal system and society. The current study assessed the construct dimensionality of trust in legal authorities and procedural fairness to serve as the initial steps for the development of a brief measure of trust in legal authorities and procedural fairness. Moreover, this study investigated whether the relationship between trust in legal authorities, procedural fairness, need for affect (NFA), need for cognition (NFC), need for cognitive closure (NFCS), and individual demographic characteristics predict juror outcome decisions. Participants were given individual difference measures (i.e., NFA, NFC, NFCS), the trust in legal authorities measure, a case scenario, juror outcome decision questionnaire, and demographic questionnaire. A principal component analysis was conducted with 42 items using an oblique rotation (promax). Five statistically significant components, as determined through parallel analysis, explained 53.29% of the variance in trust in legal authorities and procedural fairness. This inductive approach indicated that trust in legal authorities and procedural fairness was comprised of five dimensions: trust in police, institutional trust in courts, procedural fairness- voice, motive-based trust in courts, and procedural fairness – neutrality. Moreover, a binary logistic regression indicated that trust in police and procedural fairness – voice significantly predicted juror outcome decisions. A discussion of these results along with the limitations of this study and future research is discussed.
  • Item
    An analysis of human trafficking in Alabama
    (University of Alabama Libraries, 2017) McKenzie, Daniel H.; Lanier, Mark; University of Alabama Tuscaloosa
    While awareness of human trafficking has increased in recent years, research suggests that more education is needed for first responders (e.g., law enforcement, fire and rescue, health care professionals, etc.) in order to give them more knowledge so they can better recognize occurrences of the crime and assist victims of human trafficking. Furthermore, previous research contends that data concerning the number of victims trafficked both worldwide and domestically is often exaggerated and lacks a scientific basis. The current research examines the number of human trafficking cases that have been documented in the state of Alabama. The study utilizes a mixed method approach to measure the perception that law enforcement officers in Alabama have regarding the issue of human trafficking, the amount of training received on the topic, and the number of cases investigated during 2014. The findings were then compared to findings from a previous study that examined similar issues in the state of Florida.
  • Item
    The linguistics of terror: a content analysis of suicide notes and martyr manifestos
    (University of Alabama Libraries, 2016) Smith, Chelsea H.; Lankford, Adam; University of Alabama Tuscaloosa
    Despite growing interest in the motivations and psychological profiles of suicide attackers, few empirical studies have examined their personal writings and recordings. The present study seeks to uncover linguistic trends in the manifestos, suicide notes, and recorded speeches of suicide attackers. Using the content analysis software, Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count, the author seeks to uncover patterns within these documents and establish identifying trends across geography, attack type, and/or group affiliation. Given the framework provided by Institutional Anomie Theory, linguistic trends are expected to arise in relation to these factors and variations in societal anomie. This study also aims to add to previous literature regarding attacker attitudes and incentives more broadly using aggregated sample data.
  • Item
    Exploiting the digital frontier: hacker typology and motivation
    (University of Alabama Libraries, 2014) McBrayer, John Charles; Seigfried-Spellar, Kathryn C.; University of Alabama Tuscaloosa
    The current study combined the hacker taxonomies presented by Loper (2000), Parker (1998), Rege-Patwardhan (2009), and Rogers (1999; 2006; personal communication) and proposed a simplified taxonomy which included: script kiddie, cyberpunk, password cracker, internal, and old guard hacker categories. Each category was identified by its characteristic computer deviant behaviors and analyzed against sex and seven motivational factors (i.e., addiction, curiosity, excitement/entertainment, money, power/status/ego, peer recognition, ideological, and revenge). The study had two specific aims: (1) to explore which motivations were associated with each specific computer deviant behavior, and (2) to determine if more males than females are engaging in computer deviant behavior. The study targeted computer deviants from specific websites, which discussed or promoted computer deviant behavior (e.g., hacking). Using a snowball sampling method, 120 subjects completed an anonymous, self-report questionnaire that included items measuring computer deviance, motivational factors, and demographics. Relationships were identified using zero-order correlation, then a backwards (Wald) binary logistic regression was conducted to determine the predictive ability of motivational factors on the different categories of computer deviancy. None of the computer deviant behavior specific hypotheses were fully supported. The expectation that more males would be computer deviants than females was not fully supported since males were more likely to be script kiddies, cyberpunks, and old guard hackers compared to females. The findings suggested that these computer deviant behaviors overlapped in both motivational factors and the behaviors themselves. The study found that script kiddie, password cracker, and old guard hacker behaviors were all only motivated by addiction. Cyberpunk behavior was found to be motivated by financial, peer recognition, and revenge motivations, and internal computer deviant behavior was found to be related to financial and peer recognition motivations. Overall, the current study suggested that there was significant motivational and behavioral overlap between computer deviant categories, and not all computer deviants were predominately male. The author concluded that using a strict computer hacker taxonomy may not accurately reflect the true nature of computer deviant behavior.
  • Item
    Law enforcement on social network sites: a course assessment
    (University of Alabama Libraries, 2014) Martin, Rita Allyse; Seigfried-Spellar, Kathryn C.; University of Alabama Tuscaloosa
    The current study was a pilot study intended to add to the growing literature on the use of social network sites (SNS) in investigations by law enforcement (LE) personnel. The study focused exclusively on graduates of the National Computer Forensic Institute's (NCFI) Online Social Networking (OSN) course. The study consisted of an Internet-based survey instructing respondents to evaluate their understanding of two items: (1) learning outcomes presented in the course and (2) their investigative practices since completing the course. Forty-two respondents completed the survey. The findings indicated the course is aiding law enforcement in learning and adopting SNS equipped techniques, but there is some room for improvement. Specifically, respondents displayed a lack of understanding on how to use some software programs such as FastStone Capture and On The Fly Encryption (OTFE), both important tools for investigation, apprehension, and legal proceedings. The findings emphasize the continued popularity of using SNS in investigations. Further implications of the findings are discussed and suggestions for future research in this area are presented.
  • Item
    Victim-defense attorney interactions in court: the defense attorney perspective
    (University of Alabama Libraries, 2015) Alexander, Lauren Nicole; Pennington, Liana; University of Alabama Tuscaloosa
    Despite substantial research focusing on victims of crime and their interactions with various criminal justice professionals, few studies have explored the relationship between victims and defense attorneys. Understanding these interactions is critical to developing positive interactions between victims and defense attorneys, as well as promoting positive outcomes for both criminal defendants and victims. This study focuses specifically on the nature of victim and federal public defense attorney interactions within the federal court setting from a defense attorney perspective. This study also explores the implications of adopting victim outreach programs like Defense-Initiated Victim Outreach, or DIVO, in a southern state. These types of programs promote restorative justice measures and victim outreach on behalf of defense attorneys. Through in-depth interviews which examine the thoughts, opinions, and experiences of defense attorneys, this study provides new information concerning how defense attorneys perceive victim and defense attorney interactions in their work. This research also provides insight into critical aspects of the criminal justice process. Interactions between legal professionals and victims can have a direct impact on cases and the emotional well-being of victims, defendants, and the professionals who work alongside them. Defense attorneys offer a unique perspective that could help provide further knowledge for creating positive effects for interactions with victims.
  • Item
    Rape myth acceptance in the Deep South
    (University of Alabama Libraries, 2015) Rocker, Dixie; Prohaska, Ariane; University of Alabama Tuscaloosa
    The current study explores the relationship between rape myth acceptance and masculinity in the Deep South. Rape myth acceptance has been studied in great detail, with many researchers asserting that the greatest predictor for rape myth acceptance is gender. However, no previous research has examined how southern masculinity is related to rape myth acceptance. In this study, I analyzed the relationships between masculinity and rape myth acceptance in the South using the updated Illinois Rape Myth Acceptance Scale (IRMA), which measures belief systems that endorse a culture of sexual violence (Payne, Lonsway, & Fitzgerald, 1999; McMahon & Farmer, 2011) and the Conformity to Masculinity Norms Inventory (CMNI), which measures men’s conformity to masculine norms (Burns & Mahalik, 2008), controlling for all relevant variables. Results from this study do not support a relationship between masculinity, rape myth acceptance, and the Deep South. The current study contends that future research needs to develop a specific and comprehensive measure of southern masculinity that captures what it truly means to be a man from the Deep South.