Presentation Abstracts

Keynote Address  -  Panel 1  -  Panel 2  -  Panel 3

Keynote Address:

The Intersections of Trauma, Serious Mental Illness, and Offending among Women in Jail
Joanne Belknap, Professor, University of Colorado and President Elect, American Society of Criminology

This presentation is based on a multi-site study funded by the Bureau of Justice Assistance on "Women's Pathways to Jail," for which the author was an investigator along with Shannon Lynch (Principal Investigator), Dana DeHart (Co-Investigator), and Bonnie Green (Investigator).  To examine the onset of trauma, serious mental illness (SMI), and offending, one-one-one interviews with almost 500 women in U.S. jails, we found that 32% of the women met criteria for SMI in the prior year 42% met this criteria for some point in their life. Among these jailed women, SMI was related not only to more extensive offending and a greater likelihood of violent offending, but also more extensive victimization histories. SMI was also indicated as a risk factor for the onset of running away (as youth), substance use, and drug and property crimes. Jailed women who were survivors of intimate partner abuse were more likely to have done sex work and to have drug charges.  Other findings will be reported in this presentation.

Panel 1:

Acculturative Stress & Abusive Behaviors among Chinese Immigrant Offenders of IPV in NYC
Chunrye Kim, Doctoral Student and Hung-En Sung, Professor, John Jay College of Criminal Justice

Purpose: Troublingly widespread in the general populace, intimate partner violence (IPV) assumes even more disturbing dimensions in the growing immigrant communities across the United States. Abused immigrant women are particularly precarious because they are vulnerable to assault and coercion related to their immigration status, language barriers, and social isolation. This study seeks to understand the effect of acculturative stress on the quantity and quality of abusive behaviors among Chinese immigrant IPV offenders. Since IPV is detrimental to both the health of immigrant victims and the wellbeing of their families, a deeper understanding of the profile of offenders will make important contributions to the planning of preventive and rehabilitative efforts.

Design/ methodology/approach: Using clinical and administrative data for 166 Chinese immigrant IPV offenders provided by Garden of Hope, a Chinese-language victim service agency in New York City, I will identify offender-related correlates associated with different types (e.g., physical, psychological, and sexual) and severity (e.g., injurious vs. non-injurious) of abusive behaviors. Case-control design and logistic regression will be implemented to examine a number of demographic, socioeconomic, acculturative, and victim-related variables and their roles in the determination of abusive behaviors among Chinese immigrant offenders.

Research limitations: Since data on offender characteristics were collected from victim reports rather than offender accounts and they were provided by one single agency, issues of social desirability, recall bias, and external generalizability may be raised.

Originality/value: Extant studies of IPV among immigrants mainly focus on the victimization experience from the woman’s perspective, but little research pays attention to the conditions or circumstances leading immigrant men to initiate or intensify their aggression against intimate partners. By exploring factors connected to IVP offending, this study will shed light on the hidden side of problem.

Better left unsaid? Gay Gang- and Crime-involved Men’s Participation in Violence
Vanessa Panfil, Doctoral Candidate, University at Albany

Despite extensive criminological literature on violence and victimization, the portrait of gay men’s involvement is unclear. Literature exists on gay men as victims of intimate partner violence and anti-gay bias crimes, but there is very little on gay perpetrators of violence. This inattention to gay men’s involvement in violence is perhaps linked to existing cultural stereotypes of gay men, but also reflects a general disinterest in LGBTQ populations within the fields of criminology and criminal justice, despite the obvious ‘home’ for violence research within these disciplines. In this paper, I seek to critically interrogate existing assumptions and address this lack of coverage. I will utilize in-depth, semi-structured interviews with 53 gay gang- and crime-involved men to discuss their participation in violence under a variety of contexts to provide a descriptive picture of their varied uses of violence. Although their uses of violence are largely consistent with the extant literature, their experiences as gay men are often central to their justifications for violence. I will also explore the links between violent victimization and violence perpetration. My data suggest that child abuse, school-based bullying, neighborhood violence, and anti-gay harassment all play roles in my respondents’ decisions to utilize violence; however, this violence did not always serve to prevent their future victimization. I conclude the paper by discussing the scholastic and political consequences of acknowledging the reality that queer populations engage in violence and other criminal activity, especially in an era of social equality gains for LGBTQ people.

The Lingering Stigma of Homosexual Deviance and Constructions of Criminal Guilt
Jordan Blair Woods, Doctoral Candidate, University of Cambridge

This paper presents preliminary findings from an empirical study on the use of evidence of criminal defendants' homosexual conduct and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and queer (LGBQ) sexual orientations in approximately 1,600 U.S. state and federal criminal cases. The findings show that criminal courts rely on this evidence to support and affirm determinations of guilt. Through examples, the paper shows that prosecutors use such evidence in a variety of criminal cases in ways that damage LGBQ defendants. Some courts accept the use of this evidence in different criminal contexts, whereas other courts reject its use. The paper uses the findings to advance two main criminological points. First, the findings show that misguided assumptions of homosexuality as an inherent form of deviance, and inherently dangerous, still infiltrate cases involving LGBQ criminal defendants today-even though it is unconstitutional to criminalize private, consensual homosexual conduct. Second, the findings offer insight into how criminological research might challenge these misguided assumptions that still infiltrate criminal cases. 

Panel 2:

Intersections of School-based Violence & Victimization for Sexual Minority Youth
Antonia Clifford, Research Assistant, Northwestern University

The increased public discussion of anti-LGBT bullying has led to a dramatic explosion of new policies against bullying and "safe school policies," yet little is known about their impact or effectiveness. Of particular concern, little attention has been paid to how such policies may further marginalize already vulnerable LGBT youth, particularly youth of color and youth at risk for intersection with the justice system. This paper uses the 2011 Chicago Youth Risk Behavior Survey, a representative dataset with information on sexual orientation, to examine the relationship between LGBT victimization, violence, and associated behaviors in schools, with particular regard to connections with race and birth sex. Disproportionate rates of GLB (gay, lesbian, and bisexual) victimization and bullying in YRBS samples have been well documented (Russell et al, IP), yet questions about other forms of violence involvement and/or perpetration have been overlooked. In this sample, GLB youth reported higher rates of violence involvement (like carrying a weapon and being involved in physical fights) than heterosexual youth. Looking at the intersection of victimization and violence perpetration, 23.3% of GLB teens who reported having been bullied in the past 12 months reported having carried a weapon at school in the past 30 days, compared to 5.3% of their GLB peers who were not bullied at school. Results for three forms of violence involvement and/or perpetration are presented, with additional analyses on the intersections of race and birth sex. These results signify the need for broader consideration of the social construction of LGBT youth as victims and/or offenders, and lead to questions about how anti-bullying policies shape the lives of young LGBT individuals.

"I Don’t Know Where it is Safe" Trans Identified Women’s Experiences of Violence
Barbara Perry, Professor, University of Ontario Institute of Technology and Ryan Dyck, Director of Research and Policy, Egale Canada

A solid body of literature has emerged on how gay men and, to a lesser extent lesbians, experience hate motivated violence. However, we are only beginning to take account of how trans identified people respond to violence motivated by their gender identity and expression. Based on a series of focus groups and interviews across Canada, this paper aims to further this area of inquiry. The fear of victimization, and thus hyper-vigilance, seems to be particularly acute among trans identified women. Many of them spoke of the multiple and complex layers through which they defined “safety” and lack thereof. We share their experiences and perceptions of the threat of hate motivated violence, and their subsequent reactions.

We Don't Have Them Here: Heteronormativity and Collegiate Hate Crime
Jeffery Dennis, Visiting Assistant Professor, Wilkes University

Hate crimes in college communities involve a variety of incidents, ranging from vandalism and intimidation to assault, bombing, terroristic threats, and attempted homicide.  They occur at both public and private colleges, and they are not limited to the physical space of the college campus.  Many hate crimes are perpetrated in cyberspace, as threats and intimidation are sent through student email accounts.

The FBI has been accumulating data on hate crimes reported on college campuses since 1992.  An analysis of hate crime reports over time reveals that incidents involving sexual minority targets are reported less frequently, relative to the estimated size of the sexual minority population, than racial or religious minority targets, and the proportion is decreasing.  In addition, the hate crimes reported are more likely to be serious (assaults and threats).

This paper analyzes the reasons for the lack of reporting of hate crimes against sexual minority target, using both FBI statistics and interviews with ten hate crime victims.  Many of the explanations used to explain lack of reporting  from victims of general crime: fear of retaliation, fear of abuse by the authorities, and belief that reporting is useless -- were not applicable.  Sometimes victims are hesitant about reporting for fear of further harassment and being "outed" in the campus community, but, again, these explanations did not appear frequently.   Instead, the most common scenario involved campus heteronormativity, the presumption that there are no, or few, sexual minority students, faculty, and staff, and that therefore every incident should be taken as if occurs among heterosexuals.  The campus or community police often refused to classify minor incidents such as vandalism and intimidation as hate crimes.  They stated that the incidents were "personal matters," not related to the sexual identity of the participants.  They sometimes asked "how would they know you are gay?" and "why does everything have to be a hate crime?"

It is suggested that efforts to increase awareness of hate crimes on college campuses should involve not only potential targets, but college staff, especially the campus police who often stand in the way of reporting.

Panel 3:

Embodied Transgression: The Use of Dance as a Sexual Violence Prevention Education Method among Adolescent Girls
Shawna Mackey, Master's Student, University at Albany

This paper is part of my master’s thesis project in which I explore dance as an effective method in sexual violence prevention education programs specifically aimed towards adolescent girls.  In this project, I integrate theories of engaged pedagogies, as articulated by Paulo Freire, bell hooks, and Audre Lorde, with feminist dance practices, as described by Aimee Meredith Cox’s “radical pedagogy” and the political dance projects of Ananya Dance Theatre.

I focus on my role as a facilitator of a sexual violence prevention education program called Teen Choices and the implementation of dance into this group.  The group curriculum that I formulated uses activities that aim to increase knowledge and advocate for empowerment regarding issues such as unhealthy relationship behaviors, dating violence, physical and verbal forms of consent, and sexual violence. The girls in the group will work with me to build choreography that they feel is representative of the issues that we discuss as a way of embodying the knowledge upon which we have built, as well as using dance as a tool of personal empowerment, shared body histories, and an outlet for bringing awareness to sexual violence.  In this paper, I will reflect on my experience with the girls of Teen Choices, not only as their facilitator but also as a participant observer, and analyze the effects of the implementation of dance into the group curriculum.  The presentation that I propose for the Spring Symposium will include a version of this paper, accompanied by a final dance performance, performed by myself and the girls of Teen Choices, as a show piece to what we have learned and gained from this experience, and as a visual reference to alternative forms of sexual violence prevention.

From Duke Lacrosse to Rihanna to the Blogosphere: Media & Digitization of Violence against Black Women
Janell Hobson, Associate Professor, University at Albany

In my most recent book, Body as Evidence: Mediating Race, Globalizing Gender (SUNY Press, 2012), I interrogate the racial and sexual representations of black bodies and women of color in general in twenty-first-century media. Specific to this study is an examination of digital culture and the ways in which the power dynamics of racial divides, gender relations, and sexual hierarchies have been “digitized” in our contemporary moment. In my centerpiece chapter, “Body as Evidence: The Facts of Blackness, the Fictions of Whiteness,” I use the spectacle of the Duke Lacrosse rape scandal to highlight how digital media galvanized black female sexuality to reinforce racialized sexual tropes and stereotypes of the raped, or “unrapeable,” black female body while simultaneously refusing black women’s agency in narratives of resistance.

For the purposes of this paper and symposium, I will revisit this moment from 2006 and trace developments of media discourse in the years since that relied on digital spheres to highlight and magnify narratives of violence against black women. From the cellphone images that cast Crystal Gail Mangum, the Duke Lacrosse accuser, as a recognizable and criminalized “stripper,” to circulations via the World Wide Web of Rihanna’s bruised and battered face – and the pop star’s subsequent counter-narratives refuting her victimization – to the black women’s blogosphere, which emerged in the wake of Duke Lacrosse scandal to give voice to black women’s experiences with sexual violence, and alternative digital forms that now circulate mixtapes about these experiences, I will explore how digital culture is an arena for new dangers as well as new resistance methods.

Sexual Violence against Women in India: Examining Media Narratives of the Events, Response from the Public, and Criminal Justice System of India
Manish Madan, Visiting Assistant Professor, Texas A&M International University and Mahesh Nalla, Professor, Michigan State University

On December 16, 2012, a 23-year old physiotherapy student was thrown out of a public transport after being brutally raped by six men in the capital city of India. This particular incident, now referred to as Delhi Gang Rape brought public outcry nationwide, adding to the debate of growing violence against women in India and also brought the world's attention to the lack safety for women in the country. India is ranked fourth most dangerous countries in the world for women according to a global poll and also been labeled as the worst place to be a woman among all Group-20 nations. The safety (lack thereof) of women in India has been heightened by an overdose of daily news reports on sexual abuse, dowry, harassment, honor killing, rape, gang rapes, female infanticide and eve teasing among others, on a day-to-day basis. The purpose of this study is to examine the media narratives on the extent and nature of sexual violence, more specifically, rapes and gang rapes, in the last 2 year to develop a typology and depth of the problem. Implications for theoretical development and policy will be discussed.