Student Involvement

Students play a major role in the current and future success of the Center for Violence Prevention and Community Safety. Over the past six years, the Center has employed over 80 undergraduate students as part of sponsored projects. For example, these students have interviewed registered sex offenders in their homes, surveyed recently booked arrestees in jails, and worked with police agencies to collect official data. These undergraduate students develop an appreciation of the research process, as well as become familiar with and understand the advantages of public agencies and universities collaborating together. Many of our students go on to work with local criminal justice agencies and collaborate with us on sponsored projects of mutual interest. We measure our success related to this goal by the number of undergraduate students funded by the Center.

At the Center we also seek to train graduate student to engage in use-inspired research that takes place outside the confines of the university and in collaboration with local, federal, and international agencies. Additionally, we seek to train them to speak to a broader audience, including policymakers, practitioners, academicians, students, and the public, to concentrate their studies toward solutions to violence and associated crime, and to work alongside academics and policymakers from multiple disciplines including psychology, geography, medicine, and city planning. To date, the Center has chaired or served as a member on more than 40% of all master’s theses completed within the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice. These theses are provided below.

Student Contributions

Although prior research has identified negative consequences from marijuana use, some states are legalizing marijuana for medical use due to its medical utility. In 2010, the State of Arizona passed medical marijuana legislation, yet, to date, little research has been published about the specific population characteristics of medical marijuana users or their criminal activity.

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Student Contributions

Research examining the long-term impacts of federal interventions under the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act on correctional institutions has been scant. The result has been a failure to understand the sustainability of reforms aimed at protecting the civil rights of confined persons. This dissertation examined the long-term reforms at the Arizona Department of Juvenile Corrections following a consent decree with the U.S. Department of Justice from 2004 to 2007.

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Student Contributions

Much research has been done on innovations in policing over the past few decades. However, little research has been done on the Smart Policing Initiative, the latest innovation in economically and financially effective crime prevention and reduction strategies. One of the key aspects of the Smart Policing Initiative is the collaboration of police agencies and research partners to more effectively address specific crime issues. The current study uses mean score comparisons and qualitative responses to evaluate this partnership to determine the extent of its value and effect.

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Student Contributions

The current study examines the social structure of local street gangs in Glendale, Arizona. Literature on gang organization has come to different conclusions about gang organization, largely based on the methodology used. One consistent finding from qualitative gang research has been that understanding the social connections between gang members is important for understanding how gangs are organized. The current study examines gang social structure by recreating gang social networks using official police data.

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Student Contributions

The flow of illegal immigrants has been a topic of discussion among politicians and scholars over the last decade. It has been argued that immigrants increase criminal activities. This is a result of Hispanic immigrants being perceived as criminals and gang members; even though only a small percentage of these individuals belong to criminal organizations. The primary objective of this study is to examine the different reasons behind the migration of gang members, gang associates and non-gang members.

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Student Contributions

Effectiveness and efficiency of the police have both been contentious topics from the public perspective.  Police departments have developed policies to help better their patrol officers' effectiveness on the streets in both quality and timeliness.  Although there have been few recent studies about the response time of officers to calls for service, this is a subject that should not go overlooked.  As an important aspect to the patrol officer’s repertoire, response time can have effects on the community and their perception on the police.  This study uses a multi-level m

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Student Contributions

The effectiveness of police behavior on criminal activity has improved over the last thirty years. Yet, some police practices remain ineffective against crime. Because there is the potential for disconnect between their behavior and crime control, the police’s legitimacy is threatened. Legitimacy is important because its acquisition is requisite for any organization to exist.

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Student Contributions

The controversy over law enforcement use of TASER devices and the potential for the devices to cause death has proliferated in recent years. In 2005 the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF) and International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) published national-level policy guidelines for the use of TASER devices, with one of the goals being to reduce the occurrence of deaths proximal to their use.

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Student Contributions

The literature on hopelessness suggests youth living amid impoverished conditions, social disorganization, and limited resources are more likely to experience increased feelings of hopelessness. Similarly, many of the aforementioned aspects are considered, in some capacity, in the research on gangs.

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Student Contributions

Research has shown that the manner in which people are treated in their interactions with agents of the criminal justice system matters. People expect criminal justice officials to treat them fairly and with honesty and respect, which is the basis for procedural justice.

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