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Psychological and Behavioral Effects of Bias- and Non-Bias-Motivated Assault in Boston, Massachusetts, 1992-1997 (ICPSR 3413) RSS

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Summary:

This study sought to inform various issues related to the extent of victims' adverse psychological and behavioral reactions to aggravated assault differentiated by the offenders' bias or non-bias motives. The goals of the research included (1) identifying the individual and situational factors related to bias- and non-bias-motivated aggravated assault, (2) determining the comparative severity and duration of psychological after-effects attributed to the victimization experience, and (3) measuring the comparative extent of behavioral avoidance strategies of victims. Data were collected on all 560 cases from the Boston Police Department's Community Disorders Unit from 1992 to 1997 that involved victim of a bias-motivated aggravated assault. In addition, data were collected on a 10-percent stratified random sample of victims of non-bias assaults within the city of Boston from 1993 to 1997, resulting in another 544 cases. For each of the cases, information was collected from each police incident report. Additionally, the researchers attempted to contact each victim in the sample to participate in a survey about their victimization experiences. The victim questionnaires included questions in five general categories: (1) incident information, (2) police response, (3) prosecutor response, (4) personal impact of the crime, and (5) respondent's personal characteristics. Criminal history variables were also collected regarding the number and type of adult and juvenile arrest charges against offenders and victims, as well as dispositions and arraignment dates.

Access Notes

  • One or more files in this study are not available for download due to special restrictions ; consult the restrictions note to learn more. You can apply online for access to the data. A login is required to apply for access.

    Access to these data is restricted. Users interested in obtaining these data must complete a Restricted Data Use Agreement, specify the reasons for the request, and obtain IRB approval or notice of exemption for their research.

Dataset(s)

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Study Description

Citation

Garcia, Luis, and Jack McDevitt. PSYCHOLOGICAL AND BEHAVIORAL EFFECTS OF BIAS- AND NON-BIAS-MOTIVATED ASSAULT IN BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS, 1992-1997. ICPSR version. Boston, MA: Boston Police Department/Boston, MA: Suffolk University/Boston, MA: Northeastern University [producers], 2002. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 2003. http://doi.org/10.3886/ICPSR03413.v1

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Funding

This study was funded by:

  • United States Department of Justice. Office of Justice Programs. National Institute of Justice (97-IJ-CX-0011)

Scope of Study

Geographic Coverage:   Boston, Massachusetts, United States

Time Period:  

  • 1992--1997

Date of Collection:  

  • 1997--1998

Unit of Observation:   Incidents.

Universe:   Aggravated assault incidents in Boston, Massachusetts, from 1992 to 1997.

Data Types:   administrative records data, and survey data

Data Collection Notes:

The user guide, codebook, and data collection instruments are provided by ICPSR as Portable Document Format (PDF) files. The PDF file format was developed by Adobe Systems Incorporated and can be accessed using PDF reader software, such as the Adobe Acrobat Reader. Information on how to obtain a copy of the Acrobat Reader is provided on the ICPSR Web site.

Methodology

Study Purpose:   During the past two decades, bias-motivated crime has received increasing attention in American society. Though violence is a significant aspect of the human experience, justifiable concerns have emerged and resulted in judicial and legislative decisions that impose more severe sanctions on offenders motivated by bias against their victims. These decisions are based on the assumption that bias-motivated crimes have a more debilitating effect on victims and a secondary impact on members within the affected groups. The opposing viewpoint is that all offenders who commit a specific type of crime should be sanctioned to a similar degree. Their motives should not be given prominence when imposing penalties. Such issues have been largely addressed using anecdotal information, with limited empirical data to confirm or disprove either assumption. This study sought to inform various issues related to the extent of victims' adverse psychological and behavioral reactions to aggravated assault differentiated by the offenders' bias or non-bias motives. The goals of the research included (1) identifying the individual and situational factors related to bias- and non-bias-motivated aggravated assault, (2) determining the comparative severity and duration of psychological after-effects attributed to the victimization experience, and (3) measuring the comparative extent of behavioral avoidance strategies of victims.

Study Design:   This study was based on both primary and secondary data obtained from crime victims and institutional sources. The research involved the analysis of multiple datasets related to victims of bias- and non-bias-motivated assaults, and was intended to yield a spectrum of information on the victims' psychological and behavioral experiences and the patterns of prior criminal behavior by alleged offenders and victims. Data were collected on all 560 cases from the Boston Police Department's Community Disorders Unit from 1992 to 1997 that involved a victim of a bias-motivated aggravated assault. In addition, data were collected on a 1-percent stratified random sample of victims of non-bias assaults within the city of Boston from 1993 to 1997, resulting in another 544 cases. For each of the cases, up to 49 items of information were collected from each police incident report. These included the victim's date of birth, sex, and race, the name of the known offenders, and the date, time, location, and nature of the incident. Additionally, the researchers attempted to contact each victim in the sample to participate in a survey about their victimization experiences. Initial contact with each victim was made through an introductory letter sent to the home address recorded on the police report at the time of the incident. Approximately 50 percent of the introductory letters sent to the victim groups were returned as undeliverable by the United States Postal Service. The researchers then used an online computer service called Autotrak to locate probable current addresses for the undeliverable sample. A total of 441 (79 percent) of the surveys from the sample of 560 bias crime victims and 418 (77 percent) of the surveys from the sample of 544 non-bias-motivated assault victims appeared to be successfully delivered using these methods. Due to a low response rate, a random sample of 100 nonrespondents from each victim group was recontacted and offered a $15 incentive to complete the survey. These overall efforts yielded a final total of 91 completed surveys (21 percent) from the bias victim sample and 45 completed surveys (11 percent) from the non-bias victim sample. The victim questionnaires included open-ended, matrix, and contingency questions in five general categories: (1) incident information, (2) police response, (3) prosecutor response, (4) personal impact of the crime, and (5) respondent personal characteristics. Victims whose names appeared to be of Latino or Vietnamese origin were sent versions of the questionnaire in their native language as well as in English. Additional information was also obtained from criminal history records for identified offenders and victims in each case.

Sample:   For the victim survey, all bias-motivated assault cases from 1992 to 1997 were included in the sample, as well as a 10-percent stratified random sample of non-bias-motivated assault cases.

Data Source:

Data were obtained from Boston Police Department incident reports and case files from the Community Disorders Unit, as well as mailback surveys sent to bias- and non-bias-motivated aggravated assault victims, and criminal history records for identified offenders and victims in each case.

Description of Variables:   Incident data include the date, location, day, and time of the incident, type of bias motivation, the victims' age, gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, and education, offenders' age, race, and gender, whether a weapon was used, and type of injuries sustained. The victim survey asked respondents about the nature of the attack, threats issued, relationship to the offender, type of bias, other victimizations prior to and after the recorded incident, who reported the incident, interactions with police, feelings of safety and anger, and the respondents' age, race, ethnicity, income, religious affiliation, gender, marital status, and sexual orientation. Criminal history variables include the number and type of adult and juvenile arrest charges against offenders and victims, as well as dispositions and arraignment dates.

Response Rates:   For the victim survey the response rate for bias assault victims was 21 percent and the response rate for non-bias assault victims was 11 percent.

Presence of Common Scales:   Impact of Event Scale and several Likert-type scales were used.

Extent of Processing:  ICPSR data undergo a confidentiality review and are altered when necessary to limit the risk of disclosure. ICPSR also routinely creates ready-to-go data files along with setups in the major statistical software formats as well as standard codebooks to accompany the data. In addition to these procedures, ICPSR performed the following processing steps for this data collection:

  • Standardized missing values.
  • Checked for undocumented or out-of-range codes.

Version(s)

Original ICPSR Release:  

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