Homicide, Bereavement, and the Criminal Justice System in Texas, 2000 (ICPSR 3263)

Published: Mar 30, 2006

Principal Investigator(s):
Sarah Dugan Goodrum, University of Texas at Austin

https://doi.org/10.3886/ICPSR03263.v1

Version V1

This study assessed the influence of the criminal justice system on the bereavement process of individuals who have lost loved ones to homicide. The primary question motivating this research was: Can the criminal justice system help to heal the harm of the bereaved's loss? The three main goals of this study were to examine: (1) bereaveds' perceptions of and experiences with the criminal justice system and its professionals, (2) the ways criminal justice professionals perceive and manage the bereaved, and (3) the nature of the association between the criminal justice system and bereaveds' psychological well-being. Data were obtained from in-depth interviews conducted in June through December 2000 with two different groups of people. The first group represented individuals who had lost loved ones to murder between 1994 and 1998 in one county in Texas (Parts 1-33). The second group (Parts 34-55) was comprised county criminal justice professionals (murder detectives, prosecutors, criminal court judges, victim's service counselors, and victim's rights advocates). For Parts 1-33, interviewees were asked a series of open-ended questions about the criminal justice system, including how they learned about the death and the current disposition of the murder case. They also were asked what they would change about the criminal justice system's treatment of them. The bereaved were further asked about their sex, age, race, education, marital status, employment status, income, and number of children. Additional questions were asked regarding the deceased's age at the time of the murder, race, relationship to interviewee, and the deceased's relationship to the murderer, if known. For Parts 34-55, respondents were asked about their job titles, years in those positions, number of murder cases handled in the past year, number of murder cases handled over the course of their career, and whether they thought the criminal justice system could help to heal the harm of people who had lost loved ones to murder. All interviews (Parts 1-55) were tape-recorded and later transcribed by the interviewer, who replaced actual names of individuals, neighborhoods, cities, counties, or any other identifiable names with pseudonyms.

Goodrum, Sarah Dugan. Homicide, Bereavement, and the Criminal Justice System in Texas, 2000. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 2006-03-30. https://doi.org/10.3886/ICPSR03263.v1

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United States Department of Justice. Office of Justice Programs. National Institute of Justice (2000-IJ-CX-0011)

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.

2000

2000-06 -- 2000-12

Researchers consistently have found that those bereaved as a result of a homicidal event experience psychological difficulties, traumatic imaginings of the death, and frustrations with the criminal justice system. General sociological research on the criminal justice system has shown that criminal justice professionals play a key role in system outcomes and individual experiences. However, the specific effects of the criminal justice system on the bereavement process of people who have lost loved ones to murder has never been fully researched. This study sought to assess the influence of the criminal justice system on bereavement as a result of homicide. The primary question motivating this research was: Can the criminal justice system help to heal the harm of the bereaved's loss? The three main goals of this study were to examine: (1) bereaveds' perceptions of and experiences with the criminal justice system and its professionals, (2) the ways criminal justice professionals perceive and manage the bereaved, and (3) the nature of the association between the criminal justice system and bereaveds' psychological well-being.

Data were obtained from in-depth interviews conducted June through December 2000 with two different groups of people. The first group represented individuals who had lost loved ones to murder between 1994 and 1998 in one county in Texas (Parts 1-33). The second group (Parts 34-55) was comprised of county criminal justice professionals (murder detectives, prosecutors, criminal court judges, victim's service counselors, and victim's rights advocates). Names and contact information for the bereaved interviews were obtained from: (1) death certificate records furnished by the Texas Department of Health, (2) local newspaper articles, and (3) victim/witness counselors with the county District Attorney's Office. Individuals were asked to participate in the study via letters or telephone calls. The interviews allowed interviewees to talk about their experiences in their own words. Each interview lasted, on average, two-and-a-half hours. When the interview continued for more than two hours, the interviewer scheduled a second meeting. Those interviewees living out of state were interviewed via the telephone, while in-person interviews took place at the bereaved respondent's place of residence, local restaurants, or in the office of the interviewer. There was one non-English speaking bereaved, whose interview was conducted with the help of a Spanish-English interpreter who also transcribed the interview. For Parts 34-55, interviews were conducted with county criminal justice professionals. These interviews took approximately an hour to complete and took place in the professional's office, place of residence, or at local restaurants. All interviews (Parts 1-55) were tape-recorded and later transcribed by the interviewer, who replaced actual names of individuals, neighborhoods, cities, counties, or any other identifiable names with pseudonyms.

Parts 1-33: Convenience sampling. Parts 34-55: Purposive sampling.

Parts 1-33: Individuals who had lost loved ones to murder between 1994 and 1998 in one county in Texas. Parts 34-55: Criminal justice professional working in the same county in Texas with at least two years of experience with cases of murder.

Individuals

telephone and personal interviews.

survey data

Not applicable.

Not applicable.

2001-12-14

2006-03-30

2006-03-30 File UG3263.ALL.PDF was removed from any previous datasets and flagged as a study-level file, so that it will accompany all downloads.

Notes

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  • The citation of this study may have changed due to the new version control system that has been implemented.
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This dataset is maintained and distributed by the National Archive of Criminal Justice Data (NACJD), the criminal justice archive within ICPSR. NACJD is primarily sponsored by three agencies within the U.S. Department of Justice: the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the National Institute of Justice, and the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.