Measurement Problems in Criminal Justice Research
The National Academies Press
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NOTICE: The project that is the subject of this report was approved by the Governing Board of the National Research Council, whose members are drawn from the councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The members of the committee responsible for the report were chosen for their special competences and with regard for appropriate balance.
This study was supported by Contract/Grant No. 98-IJ-CX-0030 between the National Academy of Sciences and the National Institute of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the organizations or agencies that provided support for the project.
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Suggested citation: National Research Council. (2003). Measurement Issues in Criminal Justice Research: Workshop Summary. J.V. Pepper and C.V. Petrie. Committee on Law and Justice and Committee on National Statistics, Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.
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COMMITTEE ON LAW AND JUSTICE
Charles F. Wellford (Chair),
Center for Applied Policy Studies and Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice, University of Maryland
H. John Heinz III School of Public Policy and Management, Carnegie Mellon University
Department of Sociology, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
The Pymatuning Group, Inc., Alexandria, VA
Schools of Law and Public Health, Columbia University
Department of African American Studies, University of Illinois, Chicago
Center for Criminal Justice, Harvard Law School
Department of Sociology, University of Minnesota
Department of Psychology and Human Development, Vanderbilt University
School of Criminal Justice, State University of New York at Albany
School of Law, University of Virginia
H. John Heinz III School of Public Policy and Management, Carnegie Mellon University
School of Social Ecology, University of California, Irvine
Department of Criminology and Research, University of Maryland
Department of Political Science and Institute for Policy Research, Northwestern University
Cathy Spatz Widom,
Department of Psychiatry, New Jersey Medical School
School of Law, Yale University
Institute of Criminology, Cambridge University
Carol Petrie, Director
Ralph Patterson, Senior Project Assistant
COMMITTEE ON NATIONAL STATISTICS
John E. Rolph (Chair),
Marshall School of Business, University of Southern California
Joseph G. Altonji,
Department of Economics, Northwestern University
Lawrence D. Brown,
Department of Statistics, University of Pennsylvania
RAND, Santa Monica, CA
William F. Eddy,
Department of Statistics, Carnegie Mellon University
Robert M. Groves,
Joint Program in Survey Methodology, University of Maryland, College Park
Statistics Division, United Nations, New York
Department of Economics, University of Iowa
William D. Kalsbeek,
Department of Biostatistics, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
Little, School of Public Health, University of Michigan
Thomas A. Louis,
RAND, Arlington, VA
AT&T Laboratories-Research, Florham Park, NJ
Francisco J. Samaniego,
Division of Statistics, University of California, Davis
Richard L. Schmalensee,
Sloan School of Management, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Matthew D. Shapiro,
Department of Economics, University of Michigan
Andrew A. White, Director
Accurate, reliable, and valid measurement of crime and criminal victimization is becoming increasingly important. American anxiety about violent crime remains high even when rates are plummeting. However, rates of violent crime are again on the rise, and as advances in technology continue to make the world ever smaller, new types of crime are emerging. This workshop grew out of a need to develop better information for policy officials and researchers about crime in the United States— how much crime takes place in general, how best to develop estimates of crime in small geographic areas and among subpopulations, and how to estimate the frequency of rare but heinous crimes. In general, workshop participants focused on how scientific advances in research and analysis can be used to improve the design of surveys. Participants joked that only about 200 people in the world really worry about these matters, but they are important because without accurate and reliable estimates of crime we have no hope of understanding what works or does not to make society safer.
The Committee on Law and Justice and the Committee on National Statistics were fortunate to be able to bring together for this workshop many of the scholars who care the most about these issues. Four papers were commissioned. Two are published here as articles signed by the authors. The others, in the interest of time and space, are summarized, with the discussion, by the authors of this report. Many people made generous contributions to the workshop’s success. We thank the authors of the pa
pers presented—Roger Tourangeau and Madeline E. McNeeley, University of Maryland; Terence P. Thornberry and Marvin D. Krohn, University at Albany, State University of New York; Trivellore Raghunathan, Institute for Social Research, University of Michigan; and Richard McCleary, Douglas Weibe, and David Turbow, University of California, Irvine. We also thank the scholars who prepared comments for each of the papers: Alfred Blumstein, Carnegie Mellon University; Laura Dugan, Georgia State University; David Farrington, Cambridge University; Judith Lessler, Research Triangle Institute; James Lynch, American University; Charles Manski, Northwestern University; Elisabeth Stasny, Ohio State University; and James Walker, University of Wisconsin, Madison.
The authors are particularly grateful for the leadership of Colin Loftin, University at Albany, State University of New York, who guided the organization of the workshop, made all of the initial contacts with paper authors and many of the discussants to develop workshop themes, ably chaired the workshop sessions, and provided comments and guidance for the development of this report. Special thanks also go to Steven Feinberg, Carnegie Mellon University, for his advice and guidance as the workshop topics were developed and to William Eddy, Robert Groves, and Charles Manski, Committee on National Statistics, and Andrew White, director of the Committee on National Statistics for their invaluable help in shaping the workshop. We also thank Christine McShane for her editorial support and Yvonne Wise for managing the production process.
This workshop summary has been reviewed in draft form by individuals chosen for their diverse perspectives and technical expertise, in accordance with procedures approved by the Report Review Committee of the National Research Council. The purpose of this independent review is to provide candid and critical comments that will assist the institution in making the published report as sound as possible and to ensure that the report meets institutional standards for objectivity, evidence, and responsiveness to the study charge. The review comments and draft manuscript remain confidential to protect the integrity of the deliberative process.
We thank the following individuals for their participation in the review of this report: Laura Dugan, Georgia State University; David Farrington, Cambridge University; Judith Lessler, Research Triangle Institute; James Lynch, The American University; Charles Manski, Northwestern University; Elizabeth Stasny, Ohio State University; and James Walker, University of Wisconsin, Madison.
Although the reviewers listed above provided many constructive com
ments and suggestions, they were not asked to endorse the content of the report nor did they see the final draft of the report before its release. The review of this report was overseen by Alfred Blumstein, Carnegie Mellon University. Appointed by the National Research Council, he was responsible for making certain that an independent examination of the report was carried out in accordance with institutional procedures and that all review comments were carefully considered. Responsibility for the final content of this report rests entirely with the authoring committee and the institution.
Measuring Crime and Crime Victimization: Methodological Issues
Comparison of Self-Report and Official Data for Measuring Crime