We are happy to announce this year's DEC and AEC awards!
Professor Adrian Raine is the recipient of the 2020 Joan McCord Award!
The Joan McCord Award recognizes distinguished experimental contributions to criminology and criminal justice. Award recipients must have conducted significant experimental research that is in the tradition of Joan McCord and has important implications for policy and practice. The award can be given to a specific randomized controlled trial or a group of experiments leading to significant policy outcomes.
Professor Raine has written widely on issues of theory and evidence in the biological pathways of humans in relation to crime and aggression. This breadth provides the context for his enormous depth in field-testing various low-cost interventions that societies can offer for young people with clearly-established risk factors. That evidence is what qualifies him so clearly for the McCord Award.
JERRY LEE LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD
This award recognizes lifetime achievement in the field of experimental criminology. Professor Boruch is leader in the advancement of experimental methodology, experimental research, and the use of experimental methods in the advancement of evidence-based policy. The award is not given for any single research project or study, but for a body of research developed over a career of interest in this area. An important component of this award is recognition of advancement of experimental science through the mentoring of other experimental scholars. Professor Boruch is well worthy of this recognition!
OUTSTANDING EXPERIMENTAL FIELD TRIAL
Vacant and blighted urban land is a widespread and potentially risky environmental condition encountered by millions of people on a daily basis. About 15% of the land in US cities is deemed vacant or abandoned, an area roughly the size of Switzerland. In a citywide cluster randomized controlled trial, we investigated the effects of standardized, reproducible interventions that restore vacant land on the commission of violence, crime, and the perceptions of fear and safety. Quantitative and ethnographic analyses were included in a mixed-methods approach to more fully test and explicate our findings. A total of 541 randomly sampled vacant lots were randomly assigned into treatment and control study arms; outcomes from police and 445 randomly sampled participants were analyzed over a 38-month study period. Participants living near treated vacant lots reported significantly reduced perceptions of crime (−36.8%, P < 0.05), vandalism (−39.3%, P < 0.05), and safety concerns when going outside their homes (−57.8%, P < 0.05), as well as significantly increased use of outside spaces for relaxing and socializing (75.7%, P < 0.01). Significant reductions in crime overall (−13.3%, P < 0.01), gun violence (−29.1%, P < 0.001), burglary (−21.9%, P < 0.001), and nuisances (−30.3%, P < 0.05) were also found after the treatment of vacant lots in neighborhoods below the poverty line. Blighted and vacant urban land affects people’s perceptions of safety, and their actual, physical safety. Restoration of this land can be an effective and scalable infrastructure intervention for gun violence, crime, and fear in urban neighborhoods.
STUDENT PAPER AWARD
Self-reported offending is one of the primary measurement methods in criminology. In this article, we aimed to systematically review the experimental evidence regarding measurement bias in self-reports of offending.
The authors carried out a systematic search for studies that (a) included a measure of offending, (b) compared self-reported data on offending between different methods, and (c) used an experimental design. Effect sizes were used to summarize the results.
The 21 pooled experiments provided evidence regarding 18 different types of measurement manipulations which were grouped into three categories, i.e., Modes of administration, Procedures of data collection, and Questionnaire design. An analysis of the effect sizes for each experimental manipulation revealed, on the one hand, that self-reports are reliable across several ways of collecting data and, on the other hand, self-reports are influenced by a wide array of biasing factors. Within these measurement biases, we found that participants’ reports of offending are influenced by modes of administration, characteristics of the interviewer, anonymity, setting, bogus pipeline, response format, and size of the questionnaire.
This review provides evidence that allows us to better understand and improve crime measurements. However, many of the experiments presented in this review are not replicated and additional research is needed to test further aspects of how asking questions may impact participants’ answers.