Tuesday, November 30, 2010

2010 Top 20 Crim Articles

For the third year in a row, I assess the year's most important journal publications. Here goes my year-end wrap-up of my favorite criminological journal articles published in 2010:

1. "Silence and Memory in Criminology - The American Society of Criminology 2009 Sutherland Address" by Nicole Rafter in Criminology (48, 1)

2. "Using Random Judge Assignment to Estimate the Effects of Incarceration and Probation on Recidivism among Drug Offenders" by Donald P. Green and Daniel Winik in Criminology (48, 2)

3. "Participation and Frequency During Criminal Careers Across the Life Span" by Hanno Petras, Paul Nieuwbeerta, and Alex Piquero in Criminology (48, 2)

4. "Legitimacy in Corrections: A Randomized Experiment Comparing a Boot Camp with a Prison" by Derrick Franke, David Bierie, and Doris Layton Mackenzie in Criminology & Public Policy (9, 1)

5. "Studying the Costs of Crime Across Offender Trajectories" by Mark Cohen, Alex Piquero, and Wesley Jennings in Criminology & Public Policy (9, 2)

6. "The Impact of Imprisonment on Marriage and Divorce: A Risk Set Matching Approach" by Robert Apel, Arjan Blokland, Paul Nieuwbeerta, and Marieke van Schellen in Journal of Quantitative Criminology (26, 2)

7. "Group-Based Trajectory Modeling (Nearly) Two Decades Later" by Daniel Nagin and Candice Odgers in Journal of Quantitative Criminology (26, 4)

8. "Gold Standard Myths: Observations on the Experimental Turn in Quantitative Criminology" by Robert Sampson in Journal of Quantitative Criminology (26, 4)

9. "What You Can and Can't Properly Do with Regression" by Richard Berk in Journal of Quantitative Criminology (26, 4)

10. "Linking the Crime and Arrest Processes to Measure Variations in Individual Arrest Risk per Crime (Q)" by Alfred Blumstein, Jacqueline Cohen, Alex Piquero, and Christy Visher in Journal of Quantitative Criminology (26, 4)

11. "How Damaging is Imprisonment in the Long-term? A Controlled Experiment Comparing Long-term Effects of Community Service and Short Custodial Sentences on Re-offending and Social Integration" by Martin Killias, Gwladys Gillieron, Francoise Villard, and Clara Poglia in Journal of Experimental Criminology (6, 2)

12. "Low-intensity Community Supervision for Low-risk Offenders: A Randomized, Controlled Trial" by Geoffrey Barnes, Lindsay Ahlman, Charlotte Gill, Lawrence Sherman, and Ellen Kurtz in Journal of Experimental Criminology (6, 2)

13. "When Second Best is Good Enough: A Comparison Between a True Experiment and a Regression Discontinuity Quasi-experiment" by Richard Berk, Geoffrey Barnes, Lindsay Ahlman, and Ellen Kurtz in Journal of Experimental Criminology (6, 2)

14. "Justifying the Use of Non-experimental Methods and Disqualifying the Use of Randomized Controlled Trials: Challenging Folklore in Evaluation Research in Crime and Justice" by David Weisburd in Journal of Experimental Criminology (6, 2)

15. "The Correspondence of Family Features with Problem, Aggressive, Criminal, and Violent Behavior: A Meta-analysis" by James Derzon in Journal of Experimental Criminology (6, 3)

16. "Comparing the Effects of Community Service and Short-term Imprisonment on Recidivism: a Matched Samples Approach" by Hilde Wermink, Arjan Blokland, Paul Nieuwbeerta, Daniel Nagin, and Nikolaj Tollenaar in Journal of Experimental Criminology (6, 3)

17. "Trajectories of Offending and Their Relation to Life Failure in Late Middle Age: Findings from the Cambridge Study in Delinquent Development" by Alex Piquero, David Farrington, Daniel Nagin, and Terrie Moffitt in Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency (47, 2)

18. "Is it Who You Know, or How Many That Counts? Criminal Networks and Cost Avoidance in a Sample of Young Offenders" by Martin Bouchard and Holly Nguyen in Justice Quarterly (27, 1)

19. "The Empirical Status of Social Learning Theory: A Meta-analysis" by Travis Pratt, Francis Cullen, Christine Sellers, L. Thomas Winfree Jr., Tamara Madensen, Leah Daigle, Noelle Fearn, and Jacinta Gau in Justice Quarterly (27, 6)

20. "Are There Any True Adult-Onset Offenders?" by Tara Renae McGee and David Farrington in British Journal of Criminology (50, 3)

Friday, July 30, 2010

18 to 1: The Magic Ratio?

In case you haven't heard, the longstanding crack-cocaine disparity in the federal mandatory minimum statute (which dates back to 1986) has been scaled back by congress this week, in a bill that also includes the first repeal of a federal mandatory minimum sentence since Nixon was president. The bill now moves to the president's desk and is likely to be signed into law shortly. The blogosphere is buzzing about the significance of this, with most folks cheering for what they view as a long overdue move in the right direction for reducing disproportionately harsh criminal penalties on racial minorities. For those unfamiliar with the "crack-cocaine disparity", the 1986 federal law established a mandatory minimum prison sentence for crack that is 100 times more severe than the penalty for the same amount of powder cocaine. So possession of 5 grams of crack draws the same five year mandatory minimum penalty as does posession of 500 grams of powder cocaine. Under the new legislation passed this week, the disparity will now decrease from 100-to-1 to 18-to-1, so that a five year mandatory minimum now requires 28 grams of crack possession rather than the previous 5 grams. Support for the bill was largely bi-partisan, most likely due to the ratcheting costs of the federal prison population that has exploded over the past several decades. Prison growth rates are simply no longer sustainable, especially in this economy.

Some are arguing, however, that the legislation passed this week doesn't go far enough, and that no disparity should exist in the penalty for crack compared to the penalty for powder cocaine. I say that a disparity is most certainly needed, but that 18-to-1 is probably much more reasonable than 100-to-1, especially given our out of control prison population and the diminishing of U.S. crack markets since their peak in the 1980s. The reason that a disparity is needed is because the impact of crack on communities far outweighs the impact of powder cocaine. In essence the statement we as a society have indirectly made by electing our representatives who have passed these mandatory minimums is that crack was once 100 times more costly than powder cocaine to us as a society, but now crack is only 18 times more costly. I don't know what the right answer is. Perhaps an 18-to-1 disparity is still too high. Perhaps the 100-to-1 disparity was too high even during the 1980s. We can argue over the economics and the scaling of the cost-benefit ratio, but I don't think we can dispute that crack is significantly more costly that powder cocaine. Crack has a much more pronounced record of being associated with inner-city violence and community disintegration. I'm no pharmacological expert and have never used crack or powder cocaine, but from what I understand the pharmacological effects of crack are also more pronounced that the pharmacological effects of powder cocaine (although some will dispute this point). Crack is a more pure form of cocaine, in that the impurities that are typically cut into powder cocaine many times over are removed in crack cocaine. Crack also produces a faster and more intense high. Just in terms of accessibility, crack is also more accessible since it is stereotypically sold in open-air drug markets and is easily smokable.

The liberal pundants claim (and will continue to claim) that the crack-cocaine disparity represents a racist policy. I side with Heather Mac Donald's analysis in the Manhattan Institute's City Journal, which really sets the record straight on this issue. As Mac Donald points out, those who claim that any disparity in the penalty between crack and cocaine is an example of racism forget two facts: 1) the same federal mandatory minimum for 5 grams of crack also applies to 5 grams of meth which is a predominantly white/hispanic drug (only 2% of federal meth defendents are black), and 2) it was the black community who were first to sound the alarm on crack and call for the government to do something to fix it. On this second point, one needs only to recall the proliferation of stories about crack babies and crack moms during the 1980s (remember the movie New Jack City?). We were told by the media that crack was a devistating drug and was absolutely ravishing our inner-city communites. But more to the point, we were being told this story by African-American leaders. The Harlem congressman Charlie Rangel (yes, the same one in the news this week for political corruption) held a press conference alongside Jesse Jackson to bring attention to the dire consequences of crack, and then voted for the original 1986 mandatory minimum. Others supporting harsh penalties for crack included Brooklyn congressman Major Owens and Queens congressman Alton Waldon. As Waldon noted back then, "for those of us who are black this self-inflicted pain is the worst oppression we have known since slavery." So the charge of racism just doesn't make sense. The criminal justice system was told by minority communities to do something about crack, and then called racist when it tried to do something.

I don't think one can diminsh the impact of having a higher criminal penalty for crack in terms of obtaining convictions through plea-bargaining and in terms of pressuring co-defendants to testify in serious criminal offense cases either. I think this has to be a tool in the bag of tricks available to prosecutors for targeting serious criminal activity tied up in crack markets. I think even preeminent liberal drug scholar Mark Kleiman agrees on this point, although he would likely argue that it is relatively rare that it is necessary for this tool to be used by the prosecution.

So an 18-to-1 disparity certainly seems much more reasonable to me at this point in time, but having no disparity does not yet make sense to me. I offer this as a tempered view, compared to that being presented by most other writers on this issue who are at the same time overjoyed that the disparity has been reduced but continue to persist in their claims that any disparity is racist, cruel, and should be completely eliminated. What I don't know is what the magic number is in terms of a disparity, or under what precipitating conditions it should be changed down or up. We do know that the severity of a sanction is much less effective than the certainty and swiftness in which it is delivered. Is 5 years in prison for 28 grams of crack too severe? Can we squeeze out the same bit of deterrence with less? Who knows.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Dean of American Criminology

You know you're big time when they dedicate a whole panel at the American Society of Criminology (ASC) annual conference to you. This year's upcoming conference in San Fran has a session dedicated to Al Blumstein's Contributions to Criminology!

Monday, February 8, 2010


As I was driving to work today, I listened with great intrigue to the new Freakonomics podcast. I'm a huge fan of those Freakonomics guys. The first full episode of their brand new podcast poses the question "what do Nascar drivers, NFL "hitmen", and Glenn Beck have in common?" That alone was intriguing. The answer to this question is what Steve Levitt refers to as the Peltzman Effect (named after a University of Chicago professor Sam Peltzman). The Peltzman Effect arises when people adjust their behavior to a regulation in ways that counteract the intended effect of the regulation. So, for example, with safer, "death proof" cars, Nascar drivers have become more dangerous in their racing habits. And with great strides made in improving safety gear for sports such as football, the players have responded by taking greater risks on the field, which in turn ironically leads to greater probability of injury. So what struck me as I was listening to this is that perhaps prison is a Peltzman Effect. Historically, America's experiment with mass incarceration was a response to skyrocketing crime rates in the late 1960s and early 1970s. But ironically as mass incarceration eventually led to a leveling off (and eventual decrease during the late 1990s) of the crime rate, perhaps the unintended and collateral consequences of mass incarceration will soon lead to increases in the crime rate. Thus, what was intended to make us more safe as a society (and did so for a period of time), may actually make us more unsafe in the long run. We haven't seen large increases in the crime rate yet (in fact crime rates are still falling in many cities nationwide), but many criminologists speculate that this may be on the way. There is a whole literature on the collateral consequences of mass incarceration, including an observed propensity towards criminal behavior for children of incarcerated parents. Several criminologists have also studied the negative impacts that high incarceration rates have on certain (primarily urban) communities. And then there are those researchers who study prisoner reentry, noting that offenders returning to the community after a significant period of incarceration may face obstacles that can actually facilitate their return to criminal behavior. Those who study the impact of prison on crime more generally, have found that, on the whole, a period of incarceration tends to have more of a criminogenic than a deterrent effect (although the verdict is still out on this). Speaking in the technical language of researchers who study the prison-crime relationship, the problem with simply examining correlations between crime rates and incarceration rates is that these correlations suffers from endogeneity (or simultaneity). Absent truly experimental evidence, this problem is a hard one to overcome methodologically. The problem is that there are good reasons to believe that crime rates impact imprisonment rates and conversely that imprisonment rates impact crime rates. If we lock up more people when crime goes up (i.e., crime rates primarily impact imprisonment rates), then we'd expect to observe a positive correlation between crime rates and imprisonment rates. But if prison serves to reduce crime (either through a deterrent or incapacitative effect), then we would expect the correlation between prison and crime to be negative. So how do we disentangle this relationship? Well...that's for another post. My point is that perhaps mass incarceration will one day come to be known as a Peltzman Effect.

Speaking of ironies, I read a criminal justice news story the other day that struck me as ironic. The story comes from the state of California (a state that is no stranger to ironies). Apparently in California a new piece of legislation has created a type of parole supervision referred to as "non-revokable parole". This is most likely in response to California having the highest technical parole violator rate in the country. Under "non-revokable parole", the only way that a parolee can be returned to prison is by being prosecuted through the court system for committing a new crime. No technical parole violations can be given out. Why this strikes me as ironic is that this type of approach to parole supervision seems to fly in the face of the central premises of the popular new book by UCLA professor Mark Kleiman entitled "When Brute Force Fails". I've actually been looking for an opportunity to write on Kleiman's book so here it goes. In the book, Kleiman applies the age-old principles of deterrence theory to a community corrections setting. In classical deterrence theory, punishment must be certain, severe, and swift in order to be effective. Kleiman, like other recent criminologists, finds that certainty and swiftness are far more effective than severity. In fact, severity is often the enemy of certainty and swiftness since certainty and swiftness are sacrificed almost by necessity (at least in our current criminal justice system) as the severity of the proposed sanction increases. This idea is particularly germane to probationers and parolees. Kleiman points to a successful experiment in Hawaii (the H.O.P.E. project) as evidence that minor punishments for technical violators (e.g., a weekend or week in jail at most) can be extremely effective in reducing recidivism if delivered swiftly and with a high degree of certainty. If monitoring of probationers/parolees is increased (e.g., weekly random drug tests, GPS monitoring, etc.), expectations are outlined to probationers/parolees in advance, and every infraction is punished immediately, the evidence suggests that even hardcore meth addicts can change their behavior without treatment. The underlying principles of this approach are actually quite common-sense to any person who has ever raised a child or a puppy. Evidence in support of these principles have also been demonstrated in policing experiments going back more than a decade. All of this evidence suggests that careful monitoring and sanctioning of parolees can stimulate conforming behavior. Technical violations can be a particularly effective tool in the toolbag because they can be delivered swiftly and frequently without court processing. So it is ironic that the the spokesman for this type of approach is a prominent professor at a California-based university (UCLA), and yet California has just gone the opposite direction by implementing "non-revokable parole". Personally, I wonder what is even the point of "non-revokable parole". If parole agents can only "arrest" for new crimes and now must go through the court system in order to prosecute, then it strikes me that (a) parole agents are now just cops and (b) parole supervision has a lower chance of being a deterrent since the certainty and swiftness of sanctioning will in all likelihood decline.

To tie it all together in one final ironic twist, it may be the case that while prison is generally not a deterrent (and may in fact have a "Peltzman Effect" by actually increasing crime), it may be a significant deterrent for parole violators if delivered correctly.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

2009 Top 20 Crim Articles

Ok, here goes...my second annual list of top 20 published articles in the field of criminology:

1. "The Dead Sea Scrolls and Criminological Knowledge: 2008 Presidential Address to the American Society of Criminology" by Robert Bursik in Criminology (47, 1)

2. "Does Dropping Out of School Mean Dropping Into Delinquency" by Gary Sweeten, Shawn Bushway, and Ray Paternoster in Criminology (47, 1)

3. "Redemption In The Presence of Widespread Criminal Background Checks" by Alfred Blumstein and Kiminori Nakamura in Criminology (47, 2)

4. "Estimating a Dose-Response Relationship Between Length of Stay and Future Recidivism In Serious Juvenile Offenders" by Tom Loughran, Ed Mulvey, Carol Schubert, Jeff Fagan, Alex Piquero, and Sandra Losoya in Criminology (47, 3)

5. "Crime, Cash, and Limited Options: Explaining the Prison Boom" by William Spelman in Criminology & Public Policy (8, 1)

6. "Rational Choice Agency, and Thoughtfully Reflective Decision Making: The Short and Long Term Consequences of Making Good Choices" by Ray Paternoster and Greg Pogarsky in Journal of Quantitative Criminology (25, 2)

7. "Marriage and Desistance from Crime in the Netherlands: Do Gender and Socio-Historical Context Matter" by Bianca Bersani, John Laub, and Paul Nieuwbeerta in Journal of Quantitative Criminology (25, 1)

8. "Do Returning Parolees Affect Neighborhood Crime? A Case Study of Sacramento" by John Hipp and Daniel Yates in Criminology (47, 3)

9. "Measuring Long Term Individual Trajectories of Offending Using Multiple Methods" by Shawn Bushway, Gary Sweeten, and Paul Nieuwbeerta in Journal of Quantitative Criminology (25, 3)

10. "Predicting Trajectories of Offending Over the Life Course: Findings from a Dutch Conviction Cohort" by Bianca Bersani, Paul Nieuwbeerta, and John Laub in Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency (46, 4)

11. "Imprisonment and Reoffending" by Daniel Nagin, Francis Cullen, and Cheryl Lero Jonson in Crime & Justice: A Review of Research (vol. 38)

12. ***shameless self-promotion*** "But Some of Them Don't Come Back (to Prison!): Resource Deprivation and Thinking Errors as Determinants of Parole Success and Failure" by Kristofer Bret Bucklen and Gary Zajac in The Prison Journal (89, 3)

13. A Life-Course Theory and Long-Term Project on Trajectories of Crime" by Robert Sampson and John Laub in Journal of Criminology and Penal Reform

14. "Understanding the Relationship Between Onset Age and Subsequent Offending During Adolescence" by Sarah Bacon, Ray Paternoster, and Robert Brame in Journal of Youth and Adolescence (38, 3)

15. "Forecasting Murder Within a Population of Probationers and Parolees: A High Stakes Application of Statistical Learning" by Richard Berk, Lawrance Sherman, Geoffrey Barnes, Ellen Kurtz, and Lindsay Ahlman in Journal of the Royal Statistical Society (Series A)

16. "Effects of Getting Married on Offending: Results from a Prospective Longitudinal Survey of Males" by Delphine Theobald and David Farrington in European Journal of Criminology (6, 6)

17. "Work, Family, and Criminal Desistance: Adult Social Bonds in a Nordic Welfare State" by Jukka Savolainen in British Journal of Criminology (49, 3)

18. "Detecting Specialization in Offending: Comparing Analytic Approaches" by Christopher Sullivan, Jean McGloin, James Ray, and Michael Caudy in Journal of Quantitative Criminology (25, 4)

19. "Racial Discrimination and Hirschi's Criminological Classic: A Chapter in the Sociology of Knowledge" by James Unnever, Francis Cullen, Scot Mathers, Timothy McClure, and Maris Allison in Justice Quarterly (26, 3)

20. "Rediscovering Quetelet, Again: The "Aging" Offender and the Prediction of Reoffending in a Sample of Adult Sex Offenders" by Patrick Lussier and Jay Healey in Justice Quarterly (26, 4)

In addition, there was a special issue of Criminal Justice and Behavior on the topic of "Biological Criminology" which I thought I had several interesting pieces. And finally, hands down the best book of the year was Mark Kleiman's "When Brute Force Fails". It's ingenious in that the concepts in the book are nothing new (indeed the deterrence principles of certainty and swiftness of punishment are among the oldest ideas in criminology, dating back to at least the 1700s), but Kleiman does such a nice job of bringing new research together with old concepts in order to make them policy relevant for revamping community corrections. Keep an eye out for this book. My prediction is that this is a Hindelang Book Award winner at ASC next year...you heard it here first.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Routine Activites Theory, Burglary Rates, and The Recession

I just posted a comment on a blog post on the Freakonomics website discussing a recent trend of declining burglary rates perhaps due to either: a) more people remaining home as a result of being unemployed, or b) less to steal due to increased foreclosures. The Freakonomics folks called for criminologists to weigh in. So here's what I had to say:

Here’s some insight from a criminologist. This observation (i.e., decreasing burglaries associated with increasing unemployment) is exactly what Routine Activities Theory hypothesizes. Routine Activities Theory is a criminological theory which posits that crime happens when: 1) a motivated offender, 2) a suitable target, and 3) a lack of a capable guardian converge in time and space. For example, according to Felson and Cohen’s (1979) first exposition of Routine Activities Theory, the increase of women in the workforce since the 1960s can explain a subsequent increase in burglary rates since more women in the workforce translates into more empty houses without a “guardian” at home to deter potential offenders. So it seems to me that these statistics are quite predictable based on Routine Activities theory.

As to the question of whether burglars turn to other kinds of crime when they can no longer burgle, this is a bit more tricky to examine. What we know from a longstanding body of research (see Gottfredson and Hirschi 1990 for a good summary) is that offenders are more generalists than they are specialists. Thus, it is entirely conceivable that there could be a whole shift in offending patterns when burglary becomes no longer feasible. More recently, however, some criminologists have found more specialization in offending than was previously believed to be. This research is ground-breaking; it will be interesting to track its development. Combine this with the conclusion coming from some research within the Rational Choice camp of criminology which finds evidence of certain types of offenders tending to specialize (e.g., older offenders, property offenders), and it could also be possible that a large fraction of burglars will simply “retire” when burglary becomes no longer feasible. This is a dissertation waiting to happen. If I were doing the dissertation, I would also draw upon the “hot spots policing” literature which has examined the extent to which crime just “moves around the corner” when targeted police enforcement strategies are used. The tentative conclusion so far from the “hot spots policing” literature is that crime does not move around the corner, but instead there is typically a diffusion of crime control benefits to neighboring places.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

ASC 2009

Another great year at ASC! I wasn't thrilled about ASC being in Philly but I had a wonderful time. This was my sixth ASC. Here's a couple of highlights:

Best session hands down was an "author meets critic" session for Mark Kleiman's new book "When Brute Force Fails". Mark presented the book and then Al Blumstein and Jeremy Travis were the discussants. I'm all about this book! This book has been getting a lot of press coverage, from the NY Times to the Economist to Governing Magazine. The basic thesis of the book is nothing earth-shattering. We've known for a while that the certainty and swiftness of punishment are more effective than the severity of punishment. I think the timing of Mark's book is ripe though, given the correctional crisis of mass incarceration and the economic situation. It's the application of the basic principles of deterrence theory that are new and innovative to Mark's book. I see this as providing an exciting and promising new experiment for parole and community corrections to try out. I've long thought that deterrence can be made to work, especially for certain offenders. There's just so much about this book that excites me that I could go on forever. It will be interesting to see how much attention this book receives by policymakers over the next year, especially given the attention it's already received by criminologists and the media.

I went to a good session on correctional forecasting methods. Some of the big names in this field were presenting at this session. I got some good practical tips for doing projections. It was interesting too to hear a more details about the California projections model.

I went to a panel discussion on "evidence-generating" research. Akiva Leiberman presented his whole idea of "evidence-generating" practice in contrast to "evidence-based" practice. Akiva first outlined this idea in an issue of The Criminologist. I've blogged about this idea before and it's a concept I've been pushing.

Nicole Rafter's Sutherland Address was excellent. She's not a vibrant presenter but the content of her address was what I was interested in. She's one of those rare historians in our discipline. My readers know that I'm all about the history of our discipline. So I was awaiting in anticipation to hear what Rafter had to say. As might be expected, she called for more attention to our history as a way of strengthening our discipline. I couldn't agree more. I look forward to reading her address in Criminology next year when it's published.

I was at a session in which Jim Austin gave his typical critique of why treatment programming won't work for reducing the nation's correctional population. I have to say that I agree with his analysis. I thought his presentation was good.

I went to a good session on theory, with Michael Gottfredson, Robert Sampson, and John Hagan presenting. The room was packed (must have been close to 200 people crammed in the room)!! I was excited to see that even in a year where the theme of the conference was policy, that theory continues to excite folks in our field. It excites me. It's also quite relevant to policy in my opinion. Anyways, Gottfredson gave his typical defense of control theory and answered some recent critiques of the theory. It was a wonderful presentation. Rob Sampson gave a talk in which he challenged the notion that experimental design studies are the "gold standard". I somewhat disagreed with his conclusions but he was interesting to hear nonetheless. And John Hagan as the discussant posed some interesting and challenging questions to each of the presenters on the panel, but unfortunately the panel was over before each presenter could respond. I was really hoping for time for questions from the audience too, especially to hear some challenging debate between Gottfredson and those who always get fired up about his control theory.

My panel on parole violators turned out quite well I thought. This was a panel that I had been wanting to put together for the past several years. We had a decent turnout and the other presentations on the panel were interesting. I think I organized a panel of what is arguably the most important research that's being done in the area of parole violators. Maybe there's a follow-up panel to come at a future ASC??

I went to an excellent panel on risk assessment methods. Avi Bhati presented his concept of risk suppression, which is a problem with risk assessment validation that I got nailed on in a risk assessment validation paper that I did for my first stats class when I started my Ph.D. Shawn Bushway is another to point out the whole idea of "risk suppression" as a threat to the validity of a risk assessment validation study (he was the one to point this out to me in my paper for my first stats class). Bushway was the panel organizer for this panel. Also on the panel was Richard Berk. Berk is of course a statistical genius. His "random forest" approach to risk assessment is, in my opinion, going to revolutionize the risk assessment business. He's currently working in several states (including Pennsylvania and Maryland) on developing a risk assessment instrument to predict violence based on his approach. I've been working with him on the Pennsylvania project. It's an exciting endeavor. This panel of presenters on risk assessment was made up of top-notch statistical experts. I always feel dumb when I hear them present.

I'm sure that there were other sessions and highlights of the conference that I'm missing. I just hit a few of the big ones. Again, another great ASC conference. I'm looking forward to San Francisco next year (if I can find a way financially to make it out there).