Between 1996 and 2004, several pieces of legislation were passed in Florida requiring convicted felons -- convicted of an increasing number of crime types -- to submit biological samples for DNA profile extraction and storage in searchable
databases. The purpose of the study was to quantify the effect of the embrace of DNA technology on offender behavior. In particular, researchers examined whether an offender's knowledge that their DNA profile was entered into a database deterred them from offending, and if probative effects resulted from DNA sampling.
The researchers coded information using criminal history records and data from Florida's DNA database, both of which are maintained by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE), and also utilized court docket information acquired through the Florida Department of Corrections (FDOC) to create a dataset of 156,702 cases involving offenders released from the FDOC in the state of Florida between January 1996 and December 2004. The researchers divided the final sample of 156,702 offenders into a treatment group, which was composed of all releasees who had their DNA entered in a database at some point prior to their release from prison, and a control group, which was composed of all releasees who did not have their DNA entered in a database until being rearrested after release or as of the end of a three-year follow-up period. This allowed for the analysis of two effects. First, the FDLE criminal history records were used to define rearrest within three years of release as an outcome, to see if DNA sampling resulted in a deterrent effect. Second, court docket information maintained by the FDOC was used to define a reconviction outcome, also within a three-year follow-up period, to see if DNA sampling resulted in probative effects.
All offenders released from the Florida Department of Corrections (FDOC) in the state of Florida between January 1996 and December 2004 were considered eligible. For each eligible individual in this universe, criminal history records from a matched criminal history file provided by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) were obtained. A small number of sample members were dropped from the study because their matched criminal history records were not available. Additionally, the researcher excluded all offenders that were not released to Florida communities, because the FDLE only contains Florida arrest records and it would therefore be impossible to document any subsequent case of recidivism. For offenders released multiple times during the 1996-2004 period, all episodes were retained in the analysis. A total of 156,702 cases were included in the dataset, with 143,861 cases used for analysis, 61,012 of which were part of the treatment group (all releasees who had their DNA taken at some point prior to their release from prison) and 82,849 were part of the control group (all releasees who did not have their DNA entered in a database until either being re-arrested or the end of the three-year follow-up period).
All offenders released from the Florida Department of Corrections (FDOC) between January 1996 and December 2004.
Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE)
Florida Department of Corrections (FDOC)
administrative records data
The data contain a total of 50 variables pertaining to criminal offenders who were released from the Florida Department of Corrections (FDOC) in the state of Florida between January 1996 and December 2004. The major categories of variables include demographic variables regarding the offender, descriptive variables relating to the initial crime committed by the offender, and time-specific variables regarding cases of recidivism. Specifically, demographic variables include sex, race, ethnicity, education, marital status, age when released from the FDOC and age when (re)admitted to the FDOC, and employment status. Descriptive variables pertaining to the initial crime committed include information on offenders
who were released after being incarcerated primarily on violent charges (including murder, manslaughter, sexual offenses, and other violent offenses), robbery, burglary, or other property charges (such as theft, fraud, and damage), drug related charges, and other charges (including weapons and other public order offenses). Finally, time-specific variables include the dates of admission to and release from the FDOC, dichotomous variables relating to whether or not the offender was rearrested and/or reconvicted within three years of release, the time between first arrest and rearrest, and the dates of the first rearrest and the subsequent reconviction.