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Concept: Crimes


Memory researchers long have speculated that certain tactics may lead people to recall crimes that never occurred, and thus could potentially lead to false confessions. This is the first study to provide evidence suggesting that full episodic false memories of committing crime can be generated in a controlled experimental setting. With suggestive memory-retrieval techniques, participants were induced to generate criminal and noncriminal emotional false memories, and we compared these false memories with true memories of emotional events. After three interviews, 70% of participants were classified as having false memories of committing a crime (theft, assault, or assault with a weapon) that led to police contact in early adolescence and volunteered a detailed false account. These reported false memories of crime were similar to false memories of noncriminal events and to true memory accounts, having the same kinds of complex descriptive and multisensory components. It appears that in the context of a highly suggestive interview, people can quite readily generate rich false memories of committing crime.

Concepts: Memory, Crime, Amnesia, Crimes, Misdemeanor


Objectives. We explored differences in criminal convictions between holders and nonholders of a concealed handgun license (CHL) in Texas. Methods. The Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) provides annual data on criminal convictions of holders and nonholders of CHLs. We used 2001 to 2009 DPS data to investigate the differences in the distribution of convictions for these 2 groups across 9 types of criminal offenses. We calculated z scores for the differences in the types of crimes for which CHL holders and nonholders were convicted. Results. CHL holders were much less likely than nonlicensees to be convicted of crimes. Most nonholder convictions involved higher-prevalence crimes (burglary, robbery, or simple assault). CHL holders' convictions were more likely to involve lower-prevalence crimes, such as sexual offenses, gun offenses, or offenses involving a death. Conclusions. Our results imply that expanding the settings in which concealed carry is permitted may increase the risk of specific types of crimes, some quite serious in those settings. These increased risks may be relatively small. Nonetheless, policymakers should consider these risks when contemplating reducing the scope of gun-free zones. (Am J Public Health. Published online ahead of print November 15, 2012: e1-e6. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2012.300807).

Concepts: Crime, Conviction, Criminal law, Firearm, Concealed carry in the United States, Crimes, Assault, Theft


Child sexual abuse has gained public attention and has become 1 of the most high-profile crimes. This study aimed to determine the demographic and medicolegal aspects of child sexual abuse in greater Cairo, Egypt. This is a retrospective study from January 1, 2005, to December 31, 2011. Data were collected from a Cairo medicolegal department and were statistically analyzed. The total number of cases was 1832 victims; 57.9% were males and 42.1% were females. Most assaults occurred in 2010 (16.2%) and 2011 (17.5%). The age group 6 to 12 years accounted for higher rate (49%), mostly in males (71.8%). A total of 83.3% of the victims belonged to low social class, and 72.3% of the victims were out of school. Only 1.9% of the victims had a mental disability. The crime scene was an unknown place in 78.1%. All offenders were males; most cases had 1 offender (82.5 %); and most offenders were extrafamilial (94.2%), of low social level, illiterate, unemployed, and between 18 and 30 years old. The unmarried offenders assaulted the females more than the males, whereas the married assaulted the males more than the females. A total of 5.8% were intrafamilial offenders; 62.7% of these cases were incest against girls and 37.3% were sodomy against boys. Clothes were normal in 48.8%. Anal assault (52.3%) and incomplete vaginal penetration (32%) were the commonest types. There was no significant relation between findings, investigations, and time. In conclusion, child sexual abuse in greater Cairo represents a problem. Therefore,forensic medicine should be a part of a multidisciplinary approach to prevent, investigate, and treat the problem.

Concepts: Sociology, Crime, Child sexual abuse, Child abuse, Rape, Boy, Crimes, Assault


Perhaps the greatest challenge facing global fisheries is that recovery often requires substantial short-term reductions in fishing effort, catches and profits. These costs can be onerous and are borne in the present; thus, many countries are unwilling to undertake such socially and politically unpopular actions. We argue that many nations can recover their fisheries while avoiding these short-term costs by sharply addressing illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing. This can spur fishery recovery, often at little or no cost to local economies or food provision. Indonesia recently implemented aggressive policies to curtail the high levels of IUU fishing it experiences from foreign-flagged vessels. We show that Indonesia’s policies have reduced total fishing effort by at least 25%, illustrating with empirical evidence the possibility of achieving fishery reform without short-term losses to the local fishery economy. Compared with using typical management reforms that would require a 15% reduction in catch and 16% reduction in profit, the approach of curtailing IUU has the potential to generate a 14% increase in catch and a 12% increase in profit. Applying this model globally, we find that addressing IUU fishing could facilitate similar rapid, long-lasting fisheries gains in many regions of the world.

Concepts: Economics, Overfishing, Crimes, Wild fisheries, Fisherman, Poaching, Regional Fisheries Management Organisation, Illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing


In the USA, homicide is a leading cause of death for young males and a major cause of racial disparities in life expectancy for men. There are intense debate and little rigorous research on the effects of firearm sales regulation on homicides. This study estimates the impact of Missouri’s 2007 repeal of its permit-to-purchase (PTP) handgun law on states' homicide rates and controls for changes in poverty, unemployment, crime, incarceration, policing levels, and other policies that could potentially affect homicides. Using death certificate data available through 2010, the repeal of Missouri’s PTP law was associated with an increase in annual firearm homicides rates of 1.09 per 100,000 (+23 %) but was unrelated to changes in non-firearm homicide rates. Using Uniform Crime Reporting data from police through 2012, the law’s repeal was associated with increased annual murders rates of 0.93 per 100,000 (+16 %). These estimated effects translate to increases of between 55 and 63 homicides per year in Missouri.

Concepts: Law, Criminology, Homicide, Causes of death, Police, Firearm, Crimes, Murder


Policies restricting semiautomatic assault weapons and large-capacity ammunition magazines are intended to reduce gunshot victimizations by limiting the stock of semiautomatic firearms with large ammunition capacities and other military-style features conducive to criminal use. The federal government banned such weaponry from 1994 to 2004, and a few states currently impose similar restrictions. Recent debates concerning these weapons have highlighted their use in mass shootings, but there has been little examination of their use in gun crime more generally since the expiration of the federal ban. This study investigates current levels of criminal activity with assault weapons and other high-capacity semiautomatics in the USA using several local and national data sources including the following: (1) guns recovered by police in ten large cities, (2) guns reported by police to federal authorities for investigative tracing, (3) guns used in murders of police, and (4) guns used in mass murders. Results suggest assault weapons (primarily assault-type rifles) account for 2-12% of guns used in crime in general (most estimates suggest less than 7%) and 13-16% of guns used in murders of police. Assault weapons and other high-capacity semiautomatics together generally account for 22 to 36% of crime guns, with some estimates upwards of 40% for cases involving serious violence including murders of police. Assault weapons and other high-capacity semiautomatics appear to be used in a higher share of firearm mass murders (up to 57% in total), though data on this issue are very limited. Trend analyses also indicate that high-capacity semiautomatics have grown from 33 to 112% as a share of crime guns since the expiration of the federal ban-a trend that has coincided with recent growth in shootings nationwide. Further research seems warranted on how these weapons affect injuries and deaths from gun violence and how their regulation may impact public health.

Concepts: Crime, Criminal justice, Police, Firearm, Weapon, Gun, Crimes, Assault


Crime is a major threat to society’s well-being but lacks a statistical characterization that could lead to uncovering some of its underlying mechanisms. Evidence of nonlinear scaling of urban indicators in cities, such as wages and serious crime, has motivated the understanding of cities as complex systems-a perspective that offers insights into resources limits and sustainability, but that usually neglects details of the indicators themselves. Notably, since the nineteenth century, criminal activities have been known to occur unevenly within a city; crime concentrates in such way that most of the offenses take place in few regions of the city. Though confirmed by different studies, this concentration lacks broad analyses on its characteristics, which hinders not only the comprehension of crime dynamics but also the proposal of sounding counter-measures. Here, we developed a framework to characterize crime concentration which divides cities into regions with the same population size. We used disaggregated criminal data from 25 locations in the U.S. and the U.K., spanning from 2 to 15 years of longitudinal data. Our results confirmed that crime concentrates regardless of city and revealed that the level of concentration does not scale with city size. We found that the distribution of crime in a city can be approximated by a power-law distribution with exponent α that depends on the type of crime. In particular, our results showed that thefts tend to concentrate more than robberies, and robberies more than burglaries. Though criminal activities present regularities of concentration, we found that criminal ranks have the tendency to change continuously over time-features that support the perspective of crime as a complex system and demand analyses and evolving urban policies covering the city as a whole.

Concepts: City, Sociology, Crime, Criminal law, Crimes, Theft, Robbery, Piracy


Firearm violence frequently involves alcohol, but there are no studies of misuse of alcohol and risk for future violence among firearm owners. We examined the association between prior convictions for alcohol-related crimes, chiefly driving under the influence (DUI), and risk of subsequent arrest among 4066 individuals who purchased handguns in California in 1977. During follow-up through 1991, 32.8% of those with prior alcohol-related convictions and 5.7% of those with no prior criminal history were arrested for a violent or firearm-related crime; 15.9% and 2.7%, respectively, were arrested for murder, rape, robbery or aggravated assault. Prior alcohol-related convictions were associated with a fourfold to fivefold increase in risk of incident arrest for a violent or firearm-related crime, a relative increase greater than that seen for age, sex or prior violence. Prior convictions for alcohol-related crime may be an important predictor of risk for future criminal activity among purchasers of firearms.

Concepts: Crime, Criminal law, Violent crime, Police, Crimes, Assault, Arrest, Misdemeanor


Objectives. We examined whether past-year suicidality among sexual-minority adolescents was more common in neighborhoods with a higher prevalence of hate crimes targeting lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) individuals. Methods. Participants' data came from a racially/ethnically diverse population-based sample of 9th- through 12th-grade public school students in Boston, Massachusetts (n = 1292). Of these, 108 (8.36%) reported a minority sexual orientation. We obtained data on LGBT hate crimes involving assaults or assaults with battery between 2005 and 2008 from the Boston Police Department and linked the data to the adolescent’s residential address. Results. Sexual-minority youths residing in neighborhoods with higher rates of LGBT assault hate crimes were significantly more likely to report suicidal ideation (P = .013) and suicide attempts (P = .006), than were those residing in neighborhoods with lower LGBT assault hate crime rates. We observed no relationships between overall neighborhood-level violent and property crimes and suicidality among sexual-minority adolescents (P > .05), providing evidence for specificity of the results to LGBT assault hate crimes. Conclusions. Neighborhood context (i.e., LGBT hate crimes) may contribute to sexual-orientation disparities in adolescent suicidality, highlighting potential targets for community-level suicide-prevention programs. (Am J Public Health. Published online ahead of print December 12, 2013: e1-e7. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2013.301424).

Concepts: LGBT, Crime, Sexual orientation, Suicide, Homosexuality, Crimes, Assault, Hate crime


Child abuse and neglect, considered criminal acts under the Criminal Code of Canada, play an important role in substance use, violence, and other criminal behaviour in adulthood. We adopted the life course perspective to identify modifiable contextual influences and co-occurring individual, social, and familial determinants associated with adult criminality. Using in-depth interview data, a sub-sample of 13 women who had recently experienced intimate partner violence, recounted their experiences of childhood abuse, their own substance use or criminality, as well as implications of these factors on their children’s life trajectories. For the purposes of this paper criminality was defined as child abuse and neglect, domestic violence, illegal substance use and underage alcohol use. Our objective was to explore, in our data: (1) patterns and trajectories of criminality from childhood to adulthood among women who were victims of violence, and (2) cumulative effects of early life exposures on experiences of criminality; with the aim of describing the life course perspective as a useful framework to understand criminality along the life trajectory. The analysis was not designed to demonstrate causal connections between early childhood and adulthood experiences of criminality. Rather we generated qualitative and quantitative hypotheses to guide future research in the field. Implications for research and interventions are discussed.

Concepts: Domestic violence, Crime, Violence, Child abuse, Family therapy, Crimes