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Study of Race, Crime, and Social Policy in Oakland, California, 1976-1982 (ICPSR 9961) RSS

Principal Investigator(s):

Summary:

In 1980, the National Institute of Justice awarded a grant to the Cornell University College of Human Ecology for the establishment of the Center for the Study of Race, Crime, and Social Policy in Oakland, California. This center mounted a long-term research project that sought to explain the wide variation in crime statistics by race and ethnicity. Using information from eight ethnic communities in Oakland, California, representing working- and middle-class Black, White, Chinese, and Hispanic groups, as well as additional data from Oakland's justice systems and local organizations, the center conducted empirical research to describe the criminalization process and to explore the relationship between race and crime. The differences in observed patterns and levels of crime were analyzed in terms of: (1) the abilities of local ethnic communities to contribute to, resist, neutralize, or otherwise affect the criminalization of its members, (2) the impacts of criminal justice policies on ethnic communities and their members, and (3) the cumulative impacts of criminal justice agency decisions on the processing of individuals in the system. Administrative records data were gathered from two sources, the Alameda County Criminal Oriented Records Production System (CORPUS) (Part 1) and the Oakland District Attorney Legal Information System (DALITE) (Part 2). In addition to collecting administrative data, the researchers also surveyed residents (Part 3), police officers (Part 4), and public defenders and district attorneys (Part 5). The eight study areas included a middle- and low-income pair of census tracts for each of the four racial/ethnic groups: white, Black, Hispanic, and Asian. Part 1, Criminal Oriented Records Production System (CORPUS) Data, contains information on offenders' most serious felony and misdemeanor arrests, dispositions, offense codes, bail arrangements, fines, jail terms, and pleas for both current and prior arrests in Alameda County. Demographic variables include age, sex, race, and marital status. Variables in Part 2, District Attorney Legal Information System (DALITE) Data, include current and prior charges, days from offense to charge, disposition, and arrest, plea agreement conditions, final results from both municipal court and superior court, sentence outcomes, date and outcome of arraignment, disposition, and sentence, number and type of enhancements, numbers of convictions, mistrials, acquittals, insanity pleas, and dismissals, and factors that determined the prison term. For Part 3, Oakland Community Crime Survey Data, researchers interviewed 1,930 Oakland residents from eight communities. Information was gathered from community residents on the quality of schools, shopping, and transportation in their neighborhoods, the neighborhood's racial composition, neighborhood problems, such as noise, abandoned buildings, and drugs, level of crime in the neighborhood, chances of being victimized, how respondents would describe certain types of criminals in terms of age, race, education, and work history, community involvement, crime prevention measures, the performance of the police, judges, and attorneys, victimization experiences, and fear of certain types of crimes. Demographic variables include age, sex, race, and family status. For Part 4, Oakland Police Department Survey Data, Oakland County police officers were asked about why they joined the police force, how they perceived their role, aspects of a good and a bad police officer, why they believed crime was down, and how they would describe certain beats in terms of drug availability, crime rates, socioeconomic status, number of juveniles, potential for violence, residential versus commercial, and degree of danger. Officers were also asked about problems particular neighborhoods were experiencing, strategies for reducing crime, difficulties in doing police work well, and work conditions. Demographic variables include age, sex, race, marital status, level of education, and years on the force. In Part 5, Public Defender/District Attorney Survey Data, public defenders and district attorneys were queried regarding which offenses were increasing most rapidly in Oakland, and they were asked to rank certain offenses in terms of seriousness. Respondents were also asked about the public's influence on criminal justice agencies and on the performance of certain criminal justice agencies. Respondents were presented with a list of crimes and asked how typical these offenses were and what factors influenced their decisions about such cases (e.g., intent, motive, evidence, behavior, prior history, injury or loss, substance abuse, emotional trauma). Other variables measured how often and under what circumstances the public defender and client and the public defender and the district attorney agreed on the case, defendant characteristics in terms of who should not be put on the stand, the effects of Proposition 8, public defender and district attorney plea guidelines, attorney discretion, and advantageous and disadvantageous characteristics of a defendant. Demographic variables include age, sex, race, marital status, religion, years of experience, and area of responsibility.

Access Notes

Dataset(s)

DS0:  Study-Level Files
Documentation:
DS1:  Criminal Oriented Records Production System (CORPUS) Data - Download All Files (56.8 MB)
Data:
DS2:  District Attorney Legal Information System (DALITE) Data - Download All Files (16.2 MB)
DS3:  Oakland Community Crime Survey Data - Download All Files (18.4 MB)
DS4:  Oakland Police Department Survey Data - Download All Files (7.1 MB)
DS5:  Public Defender/District Attorney Survey Data - Download All Files (5.8 MB)

Study Description

Citation

Street, Lloyd. Study of Race, Crime, and Social Policy in Oakland, California, 1976-1982. ICPSR09961-v1. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 2000. http://doi.org/10.3886/ICPSR09961.v1

Persistent URL:

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Funding

This study was funded by:

  • United States Department of Justice. Office of Justice Programs. National Institute of Justice (80-IJ-CX-0079)

Scope of Study

Subject Terms:   communities, crime, crime statistics, criminal histories, criminal justice system, ethnicity, neighborhood characteristics, neighborhoods, police officers, policies and procedures, public defenders, race

Geographic Coverage:   California, Oakland, United States

Time Period:  

  • 1976--1982

Unit of Observation:   Individuals.

Universe:   Part 1: Offenders in Alameda County, California. Part 2: Offenders in Oakland, California. Part 3: All residents in Oakland, California. Part 4: All Oakland police officers. Part 5: All Oakland public defenders and district attorneys.

Data Types:   administrative records data, survey data

Data Collection Notes:

The original codebooks for Parts 1 and 2 and the data collection instrument for Part 3 are included as part of the documentation for this collection. Users are encouraged to refer to these documents for a complete description of the data files.

The data collection instruments and value labels for Parts 4 and 5 were not supplied to ICPSR.

Methodology

Study Purpose:   In 1980, the National Institute of Justice awarded a grant to the Cornell University College of Human Ecology for the establishment of the Center for the Study of Race, Crime, and Social Policy in Oakland, California. This center mounted a long-term research project that sought to explain the wide variation in crime statistics by race and ethnicity. Using information from eight ethnic communities in Oakland, California, representing working- and middle-class Black, white, Chinese, and Hispanic groups, as well as additional data from Oakland's justice systems and local organizations, the center conducted empirical research to describe the criminalization process and to explore the relationship between race and crime. The differences in observed patterns and levels of crime were analyzed in terms of: (1) the abilities of local ethnic communities to contribute to, resist, neutralize, or otherwise affect the criminalization of its members, (2) the impacts of criminal justice policies on ethnic communities and their members, and (3) the cumulative impacts of criminal justice agency decisions on the processing of individuals in the system.

Study Design:   For this study, the researchers made use of multiple methods of measurement with different units of analysis and different sets of variables. Administrative records data were gathered from two sources, the Criminal Oriented Records Production System (CORPUS) (Part 1) and the Oakland District Attorney Legal Information System (DALITE) (Part 2). CORPUS is a recording system used for tracking offenders through the criminal justice system in Alameda County, California, that contains biographical data and other information related to offenders' criminal activities. The original CORPUS data were restructured by the investigators to make the individual the unit of analysis and to facilitate merging with other data sources. The DALITE data file tracks the progress of individual offenders through the system from the time of arrest through sentencing in Oakland, California. Data in this file are limited to variables of interest and relevance to the Oakland District Attorney. As such, there is a strong emphasis on charge information with little information relative to arrest and none on the status or biographic characteristics of the offender. Again, the original DALITE data were restructured by the investigators to facilitate analyses. In addition to collecting administrative data, the researchers also surveyed residents, police officers, public defenders, and district attorneys. Researchers surveyed 1,930 Oakland residents from eight communities (Part 3). Subjects in the sample were contacted by telephone and interviewed by 35 trained, multilingual interviewers. There were 726 respondents representative of Oakland's general population and 1,204 respondents representative of each of the eight study areas interviewed. The eight study areas included a middle- and low-income pair of census tracts for each of the four racial/ethnic groups: white, Black, Hispanic, and Asian. These census tracts were selected on the basis of reviewing 1970 and 1980 census data for Oakland. The design of the Oakland Police Department Survey (Part 4) and the Public Defender/District Attorney Survey (Part 5) is not known.

Sample:   Parts 1 and 2: Not applicable. Part 3: Random sampling. Parts 4-5: Unknown.

Data Source:

Part 1: Criminal Oriented Records Production System from Alameda County, Part 2: District Attorney Legal Information System, Part 3: Telephone interviews, Parts 4-5: Surveys

Description of Variables:   Part 1, Criminal Oriented Records Production System (CORPUS) Data, contains information on offenders' most serious felony and misdemeanor arrests, dispositions, offense codes, bail arrangements, fines, jail terms, and pleas for both current and prior arrests in Alameda County. Demographic variables include age, sex, race, and marital status. Variables in Part 2, District Attorney Legal Information System (DALITE) Data, include current and prior charges, days from offense to charge, disposition, and arrest, plea agreement conditions, final results from both municipal court and superior court, sentence outcomes, date and outcome of arraignment, disposition, and sentence, number and type of enhancements, numbers of convictions, mistrials, acquittals, insanity pleas, and dismissals, and factors that determined the prison term. Part 3, Oakland Community Crime Survey Data, gathered information from community residents on the quality of schools, shopping, and transportation in their neighborhoods, the neighborhood's racial composition, neighborhood problems, such as noise, abandoned buildings, and drugs, level of crime in the neighborhood, chances of being victimized, how respondents would describe certain types of criminals in terms of age, race, education, and work history, community involvement, crime prevention measures, the performance of the police, judges, and attorneys, victimization experiences, and fear of certain types of crimes. Demographic variables include age, sex, race, and family status. For Part 4, Oakland Police Department Survey Data, Oakland County police officers were asked about why they joined the police force, how they perceived their role, aspects of a good and a bad police officer, why they believed crime was down, and how they would describe certain beats in terms of drug availability, crime rates, socioeconomic status, number of juveniles, potential for violence, residential versus commercial, and degree of danger. Officers were also asked about problems particular neighborhoods were experiencing, strategies for reducing crime, difficulties in doing police work well, and work conditions. Demographic variables include age, sex, race, marital status, level of education, and years on the force. In Part 5, Public Defender/District Attorney Survey Data, public defenders and district attorneys were queried regarding which offenses were increasing most rapidly in Oakland, and they were asked to rank certain offenses in terms of seriousness. Respondents were also asked about the public's influence on criminal justice agencies and on the performance of certain criminal justice agencies. Respondents were presented with a list of crimes and asked how typical these offenses were and what factors influenced their decisions about such cases (e.g., intent, motive, evidence, behavior, prior history, injury or loss, substance abuse, emotional trauma). Other variables measured how often and under what circumstances the public defender and client and the public defender and the district attorney agreed on the case, defendant characteristics in terms of who should not be put on the stand, the effects of Proposition 8, public defender and district attorney plea guidelines, attorney discretion, and advantageous and disadvantageous characteristics of a defendant. Demographic variables include age, sex, race, marital status, religion, years of experience, and area of responsibility.

Response Rates:   The completion rate for Part 3 was 64.2 percent. This was calculated by dividing the total number of interviews by the total number of telephone numbers put into production, less all ineligible numbers (including "never answered," "unable to contact," and "unable to complete"). Response rates for Parts 4 and 5 are unknown.

Presence of Common Scales:   Several Likert-type scales were used in Parts 3-5.

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.
  • Performed recodes and/or calculated derived variables.
  • Checked for undocumented or out-of-range codes.

Version(s)

Original ICPSR Release:  

Version History:

  • 2006-03-30 File CB9961.ALL.PDF was removed from any previous datasets and flagged as a study-level file, so that it will accompany all downloads.
  • 2005-11-04 On 2005-03-14 new files were added to one or more datasets. These files included additional setup files as well as one or more of the following: SAS program, SAS transport, SPSS portable, and Stata system files. The metadata record was revised 2005-11-04 to reflect these additions.

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