Category Archives: Criminal Justice

Victim Impact Statements

Originally, under common law, burglary was defined as the nighttime breaking and entry of a dwelling or mansion house to commit any other crime; though, “under many modern statutes, the act of breaking and entering into any building at any time with the intent to commit a felony (or, in some states, a felony or petit larceny and, in other states, any crime) therein” (“Burglary,” 2010) constitutes burglary. Victims of burglary, according to Maguire (1980), feel the psychological effects months after, including the sense of a lack of security in one’s own home. Belk (1988) and, later, Ferraro, Escalas, and Bettman (2011) examine the link between the sum of our possessions and our image of self-worth initially proposed by William James in 1890. Both Belk and Ferraro, Escalas, and Bettman acknowledge that some possessions tend to have stronger links to self-worth than others, and some people may value similar possessions differently, thereby making it very difficult to assume the emotional value of any person’s particular possession.

While burglary alludes to theft, it may also involve a threat to the occupant(s) of the dwelling entered. Many burglaries result in the death or injury of the dwelling occupants, and this adds to the fear and insecurity. Therefore, in addition to the loss of possession, the fear of real or potential injury adds significantly to the emotive response of burglary victims. As victims tend to perceive the psychological losses greater than the financial losses, it is not difficult to understand at this point how victims of burglary might require a lengthy time to recover, and this recovery may actually alter the type of person a victim was, which is especially true for women living alone (Belk, 1988).

Victim impact statements allow the victims of violent crime to confront their attacker in open court (or, in some cases to the judge directly) and become an integral part of the process. The first use of a victim impact statement in the United States occurred in 1976 in Fresno, California, though victim impact statements have their origins in English Common Law (Yun, Johnson, & Kercher, 2005). According to the National Center for Victims of Crime (1999), over 80% of victims find a high level of importance in providing a victim statement at sentencing and at parole hearings. An excellent example of a victim impact statement can be found in Remsberg’s (2010) account of Officer Jennifer Moore of the Phoenix (AZ) Police Department as she confronts the assailant who shot her during a routine traffic stop. In this example, the assailant was sentenced to 115 years after the eloquent victim impact statement was made.

When it comes to the agenda of the criminal justice system, a victim impact statement (VIS) provides valuable information that can be utilized for making informed decisions by justice officials. For instance, information on the emotional and psychological impact of crime on victims can be best expressed by only the victims themselves. No one knows better than the victim how the crime has affected his or her life. Even when a victim suffers no loss of limb or financial suffering, he or she may still have to undergo considerable emotional agony. Victim impact statements can capture such sufferings that often cannot be measured by objective criteria. Accurate and comprehensive information directly provided by a victim can help a judge render a better-informed disposition or restitution order…. The VIS can help to determine if special conditions should be imposed on an offender. In the past and to some extent today, the criminal justice system has given disproportionate weight to offenders’ rights while sometimes losing sight of victims’ rights. By incorporating victim impact statements into justice proceedings, a sense of balance and equity can be established. (Yun, Johnson, & Kercher, 2005, p. 4)

Yun, Johnson, and Kercher’s (2005) study of VIS found that burglary victims had a much lower propensity (4.7%) to submit a VIS than victims of more heinous crimes, such as murder (15%), aggravated assault (16.7%), robbery (19.7), or sexual assault (33.9%). This data is based on the Texas criminal justice system where the VIS is prepared in form and returned to the courts. This study also reviewed the psycho-emotional impact of violent crimes by indications of 14 measures elicited on the VIS form: loss of sleep, loss of concentration, fear of strangers, nightmares, fear of being alone, anger, loss of trust for anyone, anxiety, crying all the time, feeling family not as close, depression, wanting to be alone, feeling suicidal, being helpless. The psycho-emotional impact of burglary showed to be just over 4 out of 10, identical to that of robbery. Interestingly, however, attempted murder showed to be only 1 out of 10. Though these numbers are difficult to interpret, they do provide a sense of the persistence of victims of certain crimes to want to move on towards regaining their sense of normalcy.

Victim impact statements afford the victim or their families the ability to confront their attacker. Often times, this promotes the psychological healing necessary of victims of violent crime. This choice, however, should be left to the individual victim. However great the victim impact statement effects the prosecution’s efforts of detaining criminals, the choice should remain the victims. The criminal justice system should find the simplest means of allowing and offering victim impact statements in any case of violent crime to assist in the psychological healing of the victim by allowing them an active role in the criminal justice system. Many times, the victim just wants to have his or her voice heard and consideration made on their behalf.


Belk, R. W. (1988). Possessions and the extended self. Journal of Consumer Research, 15(2), 139−168. doi:10.1086/209154

Burglary. (2010). Webster’s New World Law Dictionary. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.

Ferraro, R., Escalas, J. E., & Bettman, J. R. (2011). Our possessions, our selves: Domains of self-worth and the possession–self link. Journal of Consumer Psychology, 21(2), 169-177. doi:10.1016/j.jcps.2010.08.007

Maguire, M. (1980). The impact of burglary upon victims [Abstract]. British Journal of Criminology, 20, 261-275. Retrieved from

National Center for Victims of Crime. (1999). Victim impact statements. Retrieved from

Remsberg, C. (2010, August 18). Examining one cop’s remarkable victim impact statement. Retrieved from

Yun, I., Johnson, M., & Kercher, G. (2005). Victim impact statements: What victims have to say. Crime Victims’ Institute. Retrieved from

Impact of Crime on the Victim and the Community

In the late afternoon of December 12, 2005, Judy Nilan went for a jog before having to pick her son up from track practice (Moffa, 2006). She never showed up. Judy Nilan, a guidance counselor and social worker for the Woodstock Middle School and the Northeast Communities Against Substance Abuse organization, was kidnapped, bound, possibly raped or sexually assaulted, and viciously murdered by Scott Deojay (Administrator, 2005a, 2005b, 2005c; Altimari, 2008; Dignam, 2006; Moffa, 2006). Judy’s body was found bound and beaten on the property of Carroll Spinney, who plays ‘Big Bird’ and ‘Oscar the Grouch’ on the television show “Sesame Street” (Administrator, 2005a, 2005c; Dignam, 2006). Scott Deojay worked as a stone mason and caretaker for Spinney (Administrator, 2005b, 2005c; Dignam, 2006; Kuuttila, 2005).

According to Altimari (2008), Deojay, now an adult, was a youthful offender who was assigned to probation officer Richard Straub. Straub was convicted of molesting and raping 15 of his young male probationers, including Deojay. Deojay, then, went on to beat, bind, and rape his best friend’s mother, his childhood baby-sitter, before kidnapping and murdering Judy Nilan in 2005 (Dignam, 2006; Geezer, 2006; Kuuttila, 2005). According to reports, Deojays previous crimes include:

  • Burglary 3rd degree (arrested: 12/7/88; disposition: guilty)
  • Larceny 5th and 6th degree (arrested: 12/7/88; disposition: guilty)
  • Violation of probation (arrested: 12/7/1988; disposition: probation terminated 3/27/1991)
  • Larceny, 3rd degree (arrested: 3/27/1991; disposition: released from jail 3/29/93)
  • Possession of controlled substance (arrested: 9/15/2000; disposition: guilty)
  • Criminal possession of a weapon (arrested: 11/11/2001; disposition: guilty)
  • Breach of peace (arrested: 11/11/2001; disposition: guilty)
  • Illegal operation of motor vehicle license under suspension (arrested: 6/27/2003; disposition: failure to appear)
  • Risk of injury to child (arrested: 11/1/2004; disposition: guilty)
  • Disorderly Conduct (arrested: 11/9/2004; disposition: guilty)
  • First degree sexual assault (arrested: 1/10/06)
  • First degree kidnapping (arrested: 1/10/06)
  • First degree burglary (arrested: 1/10/06)
  • Third degree assault (arrested: 1/10/06)
  • Third degree criminal mischief (arrested: 1/10/06)
  • Sixth degree criminal mischief (arrested: 1/10/06)
  • (Geezer, 2005, 2006)

Woodstock is nestled in what is commonly referred to as “the quiet corner” of Connecticut. This atrocity disrupted this quiet little town; however, the people here are resilient and have found ways to come together as a community and honor the memory of one of their own. The annual “Jog with Judy” five kilometer road race has been a celebrated memorial event for the past six years; launched by the students and staff of Woodstock Middle School, over 500 runners enter the race each year (Morales, 2008). In addition to the road race, the Northeast Communities Against Substance Abuse has developed an award, the Annual Judith Nilan Award, honoring the life and work of Judy Nilan and presented to “[recognize] one school social worker, psychologist, guidance counselor, teacher, principal or vice-principal who promotes positive youth development, drug prevention [sic] and anti-violence” (Northeast Communities Against Substance Abuse, 2011, para. 2).

In Moffa’s (2006) article, the pain of Judy Nilan’s family is described eloquently. The family was grateful to have the perpetrator apprehended and prosecuted quickly, allowing them to face the accused in open court. Though the pain will never go away, Judy Nilan’s family has witnessed an entire community of friends and family coming together to aid and support them. The residents of Woodstock, Connecticut, are resilient and take no consideration in “being the victim.” Judy was the victim of this crime, and we will all remember how she lived and, regrettably, how she died.


Administrator. (2005a, December 13). Re: Missing jogger Judith Nilan found dead (Update: Arrest made) [Web log message]. Retrieved from

Adminstrator. (2005b, December 14). Re: Suspect Scott Deojay in court charged with kidnapping & death of Judith Nilan [Web log message]. Retrieved from

Administrator. (2005c, December 17). Re: A Massachusetts medical examiner has ruled the death of a Woodstock jogger, Judith Nilan, a homicide [Web log message]. Retrieved from

Altimari, D. (2008, April 13). A legacy of evil: part one: Abused became abusers in former probation officer’s case. Hartford Courant. Retrieved from,0,3369036.story

Dignam, J. (2006, December 22). ‘Monster’ murdered jogger Deojay pleads guilty. Worcester Telegram & Gazette. Retrieved from

Geezer. (2005, December 20). Re: Why was the monster in Woodstock? Retrieved from

Geezer. (2006, January 10). Re: Why was the monster in Woodstock? Retrieved from

Kuuttila, S. (2005, December 20). Re: A Massachusetts medical examiner has ruled the death of a Woodstock jogger, Judith Nilan, a homicide [Web log message]. Retrieved from

Moffa, B. (2006, February 24). Remembering Judith Nilan: Husband, brother, share memories of ‘best friend’. Woodstock Villager, A1, A6-7. Retrieved from

Morales, F. (2008, May 3). Run a memorial to Woodstock woman; Jogger murdered in December 2005. Norwich Bulletin. Retrieved from

Northeast Communities Against Substance Abuse. (2011, October 21). News: 6th Annual Judith Nilan Award. Retrieved from

Needs of Female Victims

Female victims have specific and unique needs following victimization, or potential victimization, of violent crime. In order to identify these particular needs and address them, it is important to further understand the risk factors that increase the propensity for violence against females. According to Franklin, Franklin, Nobles, and Kercher (2011), women face a higher risk of victimization in certain types of violent crime. This is also evident in the text where it is stated that, in the United States, 3.3 times as many women than men are raped, and almost 6 times as many attempted rapes are made against women than men, instances of domestic violence against women are disproportionately higher than against men (20% vs. 3% of all violence committed by an intimate partner), and women are stalked five times more than men (Buzawa, 2007; O’Sullivan & Fry, 2007; Tjaden, 2007). Franklin et al. describe these risk factors as of female victims as often stated a result of gender and power inequalities within society; however, their research suggests that a lack of self-control in routine activity theory (exposure, guardianship, target attractiveness, and proximity to potential offenders) contributes highly to the likelihood of violent victimization, including property, personal, and sexual crime.

Programs, like the Duluth model, focus on the batterer and promote counseling to preempt further battering, while still protecting the victim throughout the criminal justice system (DAIP, nd; Paymar & Barnes, 2009). However, there is a growing sentiment that the Duluth model, a model of psychoeducation, is a failure as the rate of recidivism is poor at 40%, and arguments are made about the unsound approach in the methodology (Dutton & Corvo, 2006, 2007). Dutton and Corvo (2006) state that the Duluth model “intended to be a progressive force for safety and liberation has become a rationale for narrow-minded social control” (p. 477). They continue:

The Duluth model, however, maintains that unlike the bulk of similar aggressive criminal behaviors (e.g., assault, child abuse, elder abuse), violence perpetrated toward women is influenced in no way by social marginalization or psychosocial deficits, but rather is solely a product of gender privilege. A progressive view makes possible a reduction in crime and violence through ameliorating socioeconomic disadvantage. The Duluth model renders such efforts irrelevant. (p. 477)

Paymar and Barnes (2009), along with Gondolf (2007), attempt to counter the claims made by Dutton and Corvo (2006, 2007), but fail to present new evidence and merely rehash previously stated claims. This is not to say that the Duluth model is unfit or ineffective; it merely addresses the scholarly debate. Since the original debate, there must be a preponderance of evidence to suggest the utility of this and other comparative models, yet no further argument is promoted, or so it seems.

In summary, female victims of violence are often targeted unfairly due to a myriad of conditions or circumstances that are not yet agreed upon, though it is agreed that women suffer violence more than men. This creates certain unique needs of female victims that need to be further researched for additional understanding. These needs should be addressed by coordinated community response programs as they develop. Programs focused on one area that are proven in efficacy should be referenced and used as the framework for the development of coordinated community response programs to be studied in other areas.


Buzawa, E. (2007). Victims of domestic violence. In R. C. Davis, A. J. Lurigio, & S. Herman (Eds.), Victims of crime (3rd ed.; pp. 55-74). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Domestic Abuse Intervention Programs (DAIP). (n.d.). Program evaluation activities at Domestic Abuse Intervention Programs. Retrieved from DAIP website:

Dutton, D. G. & Corvo, K. (2006). Transforming a flawed policy: A call to revive psychology and science in domestic violence research and practice. Aggression and Violent Behavior, 11(5), 457-483. doi:10.1016/j.avb.2006.01.007

Dutton, D. G. & Corvo, K. (2007). The Duluth model: A data-impervious paradigm and a failed strategy. Aggression and Violent Behavior, 12(6), 658-667. doi:10.1016/j.avb.2007.03.002

Franklin, C. A., Franklin, T. W., Nobles, M. R., & Kercher, G. (2011, August). Risk factors associated with women’s victimization. Retrieved from The Crime Victims’ Institute website:

Gondolf, E. W. (2007). Theoretical and research support for the Duluth model: A reply to Dutton and Corvo. Aggression and Violent Behavior, 12(6), 644-657. doi:10.1016/j.avb.2007.03.001

O’Sullivan, C. S. & Fry, D. (2007). Sexual assault victimization across the life span. In R. C. Davis, A. J. Lurigio, & S. Herman (Eds.), Victims of crime (3rd ed.; pp. 35-54). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Paymar, M. & Barnes, G. (2009). Countering confusion about the Duluth Model. Retrieved from the DAIP website:

Tjaden, P. (2007). Stalking in America. In R. C. Davis, A. J. Lurigio, & S. Herman (Eds.), Victims of crime (3rd ed.; pp. 75-89). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Roberts’ Seven–Stage Crisis Intervention Model

Crisis management, according to Parad and Parad (as cited in Lewis & Roberts, 2001), is mostly based on anecdote and tradition, the assumptions of clinical practice experience, and lack the basic research, implementation, and review, confusing theory with sound methodology. One of the more acclaimed methods to date is Roberts’ (2005, 2009) seven-stage crisis intervention model.

Roberts’ seven-stage crisis intervention model is a culmination of work by Roberts and his colleagues over the past 50 years, extending that of Eric Lindemann1, in exploring the utility and best practices of crisis intervention (Roberts, 1995, 2005; Roberts & Yeager, 2009). The seven-stage crisis intervention model involves 1) a rapid biopsychosocial assessment, 2) creating collaborative rapport with the client, 3) defining the crisis, 4) an emotional exploration, 5) generating coping strategies, 6) restoring function using an action plan, and 7) following up with the client (Roberts, 2005; Roberts & Ottens, 2005; Roberts & Yeager, 2009). Though each stage is described as essential and sequential, this is not a strict model but one that values flexibility in its implementation, (Roberts, 2005; Roberts & Yeager, 2009).

Timely access to crisis intervention has been shown to reduce the need for hospitalization (Guo, Biegel, Johnsen, & Dyches, 2001). The biggest strength of Roberts’ model is the adaptability and scope of utility. Simply, this model provides a rapid assessment to quickly determine the need for enhancement of coping strategies or further and, perhaps, more structured care in the form of in-patient counseling, psychiatric, or other directed care. Though the coping strategies developed during the intervention may not be applicable or effective to all cases, identification of the need for further strategies is important.

Another strength of Roberts’ model is its scope beyond lethality. “Not all individuals who are in crisis are either suicidal or homicidal” (Lewis & Roberts, 2001, p. 22). Crisis intervention models should be focused at addressing the root of the crisis state to develop means of assisting the patient to cope with these stressors; however, obtaining a measurement of lethality is obviously important.

One of the limitations of any crisis intervention tool is the question of applicability. Regehr (2001) describes how mandating psychological debriefings after traumatic events can actually result in an increase of post-traumatic stress symptoms with increased persistence, recommending that any intervention should be at the behest of and initiated by the victim. The emergency services use crisis intervention techniques in order to provide a psychological debriefing to responders of critical incidents, and these sessions are often mandatory, which could cause serious psychological harm to the provider. Another limit of applicability is the attempted use of the model to intervene with a drug or alcohol issue or a truly psychiatric issue, such as severe depression, bipolar disorder, or any of the personality disorders that might inherently cause a state of crisis, such as schizophrenia or affective psychosis (Guo et al, 2001).

Roberts’ seven-stage model provides a framework built upon years of parallel research efforts over the last century and appears to be a best practice when assessing those in crisis. More research is being done to assess the mode and applicability of using this tool by providing measurement data. Thus far, Roberts’ model is the most appropriate tool to begin an assessment, especially on an emergency basis.


Guo, S., Biegel, D. E., Johnsen, J. A., & Dyches, H. (2001). Assessing the impact of community-based mobile crisis services on preventing hospitalization. Psychiatric Services, 52(2), 223-228. doi:10.1176/

Lewis, S. & Roberts, A. R. (2001). Crisis assessment tools: the good, the bad, and the available. Brief Treatment and Crisis Intervention, 1(1), 17-28. doi:10.1093/brief-treatment/1.1.17

Regehr, C. (2001). Crisis debriefing groups for emergency responders: reviewing the evidence. Brief Treatment and Crisis Intervention, 1(2), 87-100. doi:10.1093/brief-treatment/1.2.87

Roberts, A. R. (Ed.). (1995). Crisis intervention and time-limited cognitive treatment. Retrieved from

Roberts, A. R. (2005). Crisis intervention handbook: assessment, treatment, and research (3rd ed.). Retrieved from

Roberts, A. R. & Ottens, A. J. (2005). The seven-stage crisis intervention model: a road map to goal attainment, problem solving, and crisis resolution. Brief Treatment and Crisis Intervention, 5(4), 329-339. doi:10.1093/brief-treatment/mhi030

Roberts, A. R. & Yeager, K. R. (2009). Pocket guide to crisis intervention. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

1 Eric Lindemann, while working at Massachusetts General Hospital, introduced the concepts of crisis management and time-limited treatment after researching the effects of psychological trauma on the survivors of the Coconut Grove nightclub fire in Boston that killed 493 people on November 28, 1942 (Roberts, 2005; Roberts & Ottens, 2005).

Roles and Perceptions in Victimology

Victimology, or the biopsychosociological study of crimes and their impacts on victims, was introduced almost 65 years ago, in 1947, by Beniamin Mendelsohn during a presentation given in Romania (Jaishankar, 2008; Kirchhoff, 2006). Then, in the following two years, Frederick Wertham (1948; as cited in Kirchhoff, 2006) and Hans von Hentig (1949; as cited in Kirchhoff, 2006) both wrote comprehensive books on the subject, based on work of the last 10 years (see footnotes 1 & 2). However, it seems that even many contemporary social scientists and criminologists still regard the science of victimology with less than full credit (Jaishankar, 2008). To understand the validity of a particular science, one should consider the impact of the scientific theories on its subjects. According to Jaishanker (2008), proponents of victimology have struggled to develop theories particular to victimology; the theories being based in sociology and criminology. Victimology, according to Elias (as cited in Jaishanker, 2008) and Fattah (as cited in Jaishanker, 2008), being steeped in application, “has lost its scientific rigour” (p. 2).

Kirchhoff (2006) disagrees with Jaishanker and posits that victimology is a truly interdisciplinary science made up of a number of differing perspectives (e.g. law, sociology, social work, psychology, philosophy and ethics, medicine, nursing, political science, and community organization). Victimology is the professional and scientific consideration of a crime from the perspective of the victim, instead of the criminal or society in general, and though this view is not new, the focus within our criminal justice system is.

What is a victim? Many philosophers, religious and agnostic alike, agree that as individual members of a society, we have rights. Whether these rights originate from a higher power or by virtue of a social contract, these rights have primacy and must be protected by the individuals themselves and by society: the criminal justice system (Kirchhoff, 2006). One way of protecting these rights is retroactive in the form of indemnification, or restitution. Aside from the consideration of the victim during sentencing of the offender, indemnification became the primary means of making reparations to victims “for the damage caused by crimes which [the state] has not been able to prevent” (Kirchhoff, 2006, p. 17). This has been the normative practice throughout much of the world over the last century or so.

In the last 50 years, since Mendelsohn, Hentig, and Wertham provided a renewed focus of victimology, the role of victim has changed significantly, specifically over the last 20 years. The criminal justice system now seeks to include the victim in an active role in the system, offering compassion and dignity in the process (Voogd, 2010). This process, including the provision of victim services, increases the likelihood of positive outcomes, greater benefit, and satisfaction of the victim, as well as maximizing the potential of interfering in the cycle of violence (Hotaling & Buzawa, 2003a, 2003b; Zweig, Burt, & Van Ness, 2003). Referred commonly as restorative justice, a new paradigm of criminal justice is now being offered in areas of Canada and the United Kingdom (Voogd, 2010; Walsh, 2010). According to Walsh (2010), Norfolk Constabulary in the United Kingdom is hoping to be the first fully restorative justice county by 2015. Restorative justice is a means of settling disputes between victims and offenders by bringing them together to discuss ways of dissuading the offender from reoffending, providing adequate reparations to the victim, and reintegrating the offender as a contributing member of the community, all outside of the court system. Walsh describes the benefits, effectiveness, and almost universal acceptance of the system within the county. Restorative justice relies on special training of police officers to handle minor incidents and infractions of the law (both, civil and criminal) as well as managing people exhibiting antisocial behavior. Restorative justice allows police officers to act as intermediaries to the victim(s) and offenders when deciding on a proper course of action.

Restorative justice is nothing new. In the United States, many juvenile delinquents were merely transported home to their parents and handed over with some advice, including suggestions on how to have the child make restitution to the victim. Times have changed, though, and we do not see this type of policing anymore. If this new paradigm promotes the virtues of community, we might see more implementation in the years to come. Victimology, again, may provide a target for resentment by some, but by focusing on the victim over the last few years, the application of victimology on society has produced some very promising results that cannot be argued against.


Hotaling, G. T. & Buzawa, E. S. (2003a). Forgoing criminal justice assistance: The non-reporting of new incidents of abuse in a court sample of domestic violence victims (NCJ# 195667). Retrieved from

Hotaling, G. T. & Buzawa, E. S. (2003b). Victim satisfaction with criminal justice case processing in a model court setting (NCJ# 195668). Retrieved from

Jaishankar, K. (2008). What ails victimology? [Editorial]. International Journal of Criminal Justice Sciences, 3(1), 1-7. Retrieved from

Kirchhoff, G. F. (2006). Perspectives on victimology: the science, the historical context, the present. Journal of the Tokiwa University Mito, College of International Studies, 1, 2-18. Retrieved from Version History of Victimology.doc

Voogd, H. (2010, April 23). A justice system that focuses on the victim, as well as the offender. Edmonton Journal. Retrieved from

Walsh, P. (2011, October 19). Pioneer justice scheme is working in Norfolk. Eastern Daily Press. Retrieved from

Zweig, J., Burt, M. R., & Van Ness, A. (2003). Effects on victims of victim service programs funded by the STOP Formula Grants program (NCJ# 202903). Retrieved from

1 von Hentig, H. (1948). The criminal and his victim: Studies in the sociology of crime. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.
2 Wertham, F. (1949). The show of violence. Garden City, NY: Doubleday.

Effects of Victimization

Selye (as cited in Roberts & Yeager, 2009) presents stress as natural component of life. Feelings of anxiety or memories of that anxiety are what drive us to fulfill our needs. This is where stress is important to the natural development. As we develop, we face many discomforting scenarios that we learn to avoid (e.g. hunger, cold, burns, pain; and later, losses of loved ones, debt, material losses, et al.). These stressors are learned and we live life trying to avoid them for the most part, and, according to Roberts and Yeager (2009), healthy stressors exist also, such as buying a home, the birth of a child, and others.

It is when stressful situations are too overwhelming to cope with that stress becomes a problem. Overwhelming stress can lead to crisis, acute stress disorder, or post-traumatic stress disorder (Roberts & Yeager, 2009). The key to dealing with stress is to have a positive outlet or sense of control over the stressors.

A study by Taylor (1995) shows that increases in crime, or at least the perception of crime, in a community leads to community decline; however, as this decline manifests, community participation grows to help to stop or slow the decline. This is possibly more akin to piling trash in the corner, then realizing one day that it is time to bring it all to the dump. The stress of living in a declining community is compounding until the community member finds a healthy outlet to alleviate the stress (help with clean-up efforts) or finds a negative outlet, contributing to the decline of the community. Positive outlets within a declining community allow the community members to take responsibility, once again, for the state of their environment, and thereby, relieving the stress of living amongst a declining community.

But, what happens when a person feels no control or ability to control their environment, such as a child? Kilpatrick, Saunders, and Smith (2003) explored the impact of violence and victimization on adolescents across the nation. Unlike adults who might have more opportunity to feel safe in the face of violence and have more options to redirect the stress, children are limited in their ability to react. They have yet to learn strategic coping mechanisms required to deal with stress productively. Kilpatrick, Saunders, and Smith show that “victimization in early childhood and adolescent years is the root of many problems [, such as PTSD, substance abuse, and delinquent behavior,] later in life” (p. 1). What is unclear, however, is the proximate cause of the cyclic phenomenon of violence.

As the studies suggest, violence (within the environment) begets violence (in the individual, especially children and adolescents). As children of violence mature through their environment and as they tend toward violence, they contribute to the environment of others by fulfilling what some might deem as their destiny. This, though, is shown to be untrue in many as not only can an individual contribute negatively to an environment, but many, even those touched by violence, find means of contributing positively, even if as an outlet for the stressors of such an environment. Being a product of one’s own environment does not dismiss the notions of self-reliance and personal responsibility. These ideals are the cornerstone of social change.


Kilpatrick, D. G., Saunders, B. E., & Smith, D. W. (2003, April). Youth victimization: prevalence and implications. Retrieved from

Roberts, A. R. & Yeager, K. R. (2009). Pocket guide to crisis intervention. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

Taylor, R. B. (1995). The impact of crime on communities. Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 539(1), 28-45. doi:10.1177/0002716295539001003

Impact and Prevalence of Crime

In researching the crime rates of Connecticut and other states, I see that there has been a significant rise in crime during the ’70s, ’80s, and ’90s (The Disaster Center, 2011). Luckily, last year, we have been able to see crime rates reduced to those not seen since 1967.

The probability of being involved in a murder or assault, whether victim or perpetrator, is characterized by a propensity for violence; therefore, the advances in medicine, especially those of the emergency medical services, contribute by allowing these people to survive an initial act allowing them to reoffend (Wilson & Herrnstein, 1998). But what was contributing to the base increase in violent turpitude in the first place? Wilson and Herrnstein (1998) posit that changes in child-rearing focii (from moral development towards personality development) have changed dramatically from the late 19th century to the mid 20th century. No more are lessons in character, but more attention is now paid on enjoyment.

Luckily, my community is far removed from crime. Woodstock, Connecticut, has one of the lowest crime rates in the state; however, Connecticut, itself, does have problem areas, which are the typical urban centers. According to the Connecticut State Police Crime Analysis Unit (2010) Uniform Crime Reports database query tool, Woodstock, during 2009, has had only 25 index crimes (e.g. murder, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, larceny, motor vehicle theft) with only two violent crimes (aggravated assault and robbery). The remainder 23 crimes were burglary (11), larceny (10), and motor vehicle theft (2). A website by CLRChoice, Inc. (2010) that details crime risk shows the following indices compared to the national risk average (100): total crime risk (Woodstock: 2, Connecticut: 64), murder risk (Woodstock: 5, Connecticut: 49), rape risk (Woodstock: 8, Connecticut: 63), robbery risk (Woodstock: 4, Connecticut: 77), assault risk (Woodstock: 2, Connecticut: 49), burglary risk (Woodstock: 1, Connecticut: 51), larceny risk (Woodstock: 2, Connecticut: 74), and motor vehicle theft risk (Woodstock: 2, Connecticut: 71).

Considering the above statistics, I find the crime to have the most impact on my community is burglary. The psychological impacts of burglary are not unlike those related to other violent crimes, such as rape or assault, and can last up to 10 weeks after the initial incident (Blanco, 2010; Maguire, 1980). For the residents of Woodstock, the personal impact would be significant. Woodstock is still considered by many a sleepy community where door locks are optional. Whenever there is a burglary in the area, however, residents tend to be more vigilant. Incidently, my personal observation is that there are more firearms per capita in Woodstock than in most other areas of Connecticut. This could potentially create an issue, but so far it has not.

Woodstock does not have a police department and is patrolled solely by the Connecticut State Police. Whenever a crime of significance occurs in Woodstock, the police must take resources away from other areas of the state in order to respond and investigate the crime. This puts a burden on law enforcement in the community and surrounding communities.

Crimes of all types can have serious consequences not only for the involved parties but those fairly removed from the crimes (family, friends, etc.); however, burglary, unlike murder or assault that tend to be focused on a specific victim, impacts whole communities and can have far reaching effects that begin to harm the fabric of those communities.


Blanco, A. (2010, February 5). The psychological effects of home burglary. Security World News. Retrieved on October 18, 2011, from

CLRChoice, Inc. (2010). Woodstock crime rates indexes. Retrieved on October 18, 2011, from

Connecticut State Police, Crime Analysis Unit. (2010). Connecticut Uniform Crime Reports [Data]. Retrieved on October 18, 2011, from

The Disaster Center. (2011). U.S. crime statistics: total and by state (1960-2007). Retrieved from

Maguire, M. (1980). The impact of burglary upon victims. British Journal of Criminology, 20(3), 261-275. Retrieved from

Wilson, J. Q. & Herrnstein, R. J. (1998). Crime & human nature: The definitive study of the causes of crime (First Free Press paperback ed.). New York, NY: The Free Press.

Future Threats

Aside from hoax attacks, where credible threats occur based on purposeful counter-intelligence efforts of terrorists, I suspect large-scale events to be the modus operandi of terrorists in the next decade. According to LaFree, Yang, and Crenshaw (2009), anti-U.S. terrorists have ample intent on attacking the U.S. on our soil; however, this would be a huge and logistically complicated undertaking. For this reason, any future organized act of terror on U.S. soil will be designed to be significant, causing extreme loss of life or toppling a significant structure or both.

Biologic weapons would be the choice for terrorists who wished to inflict harm to the greatest amount of people, though releasing biologic material lacks the sudden impact usually sought, and weaponized biologics are not easily grown or economical (Levitin, 2005). Chemical weapons are typically easier and cheaper to manufacture, though they lack effectiveness and tend to merely create a scare of equivalent magnitude of a hoax (Levitin, 2005). Aside from basic explosives, this leaves the radiologic threat, a threat that I believe, coupled with a significant target, will cause devastating effects not unlike 9/11.

A dirty bomb is a conventional explosive used to disseminate radiologic materials over an area. I foresee a coordinated attack on the financial districts of the U.S. using dirty bombs. The bombs would, first, cause physical destruction to the buildings causing immediate disruption of the financial sector of the U.S. economy, along with a large death toll. Second, the radiation dispersed over the area would cause difficulty in cleaning up the area, inhibiting recovery and further impacting the financial markets.

A law enforcement response to such an attack would certainly be large in scale. The local police department would be first to respond, along with state police, then the WMD Coordinator at the local FBI field office would be apprised of the situation. As responders start arriving on scene, personal radiation detectors would start to tone indicating the release of radiologic material. This further information would prompt the WMD Dictorate in Washington, D.C., to order a full asset response by the FBI and other federal terrorism partners (e.g. the Joint Terrorism Task Force). The response to this type of incident should be trained on in cooperative exercises involving all levels of law enforcement. Additionally, personal radiation detectors (and other detectors) should, at a minimum, be placed in police vehicles for early warning of environments immediately dangerous to life and health. Adequate training, equipment, and preparation are the only ways in which to prepare for responding to large-scale terrorist attacks.


LaFree, G., Yang, S., & Crenshaw, M. (2009). Trajectories of terrorism: Attack patterns of foreign groups that have targeted the United States, 1970-2004. Criminology & Public Policy, 8(3), 445-473. doi:10.1111/j.1745-9133.2009.00570.x

Levitin, H. W. (2005). Debunking myths: How law enforcement can help diffuse the public’s fear. On the Beat. Retrieved from

Fear of Terrorism

As terrorism becomes more prevalent within a society, concerns about the psychological effects are brought to the forefront. The psychological effects of terrorism, in general, should have an impact on the ability of law enforcement and the public to interface appropriately. A recent study by Bleich, Gelkopf, and Solomon (2003) of the psychological effects of terrorism on the public in Israel showed surprisingly low levels of post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms despite high incidences of direct exposure to terror events. This study demonstrated that, although up to a third of the respondents acknowledged a “limited sense of safety and substantial distress [they] reported adapting to the situation without substantial mental health symptoms and impairment, and most sought various ways of coping with terrorism and its ongoing threats [, possibly linked to] processes of adaptation and accommodation” (p. 619). The study found that the most effective and widely used coping mechanism was checking on the well-being of friends and family. As people tend to cope well with trauma, attitudes towards protective measures seem to acquiesce for the common good, and this can be assistive to law enforcement.

One of the protective measures people tend to adopt that would help law enforcement is a sense of hypervigilance (Bleich, Gelkopf, & Solomon, 2003). Hypervigilance allows the people to be more attentive to things out of the ordinary (e.g. unattended packages, suspicious loitering, anxious mannerisms of others, et al.). This promotes a line of communication with law enforcement not only regarding terrorism but for other criminal activity, also.

Another protective measure, which goes towards acquiescence, is the ability of the people, in general, to accept an increased presence of law enforcement in their daily lives. When faced with a proximal event, the bulk of the citizenship contend that it is, indeed, a function of government to protect the masses from further harm, and these citizens tend to accept limits on personal liberty for perceived increases in security (Klein, 2007). This is a double-edged sword, however. People tend to want to return to a normal state of affairs (Bleich, Gelkopf, & Solomon, 2003). Though an increased police presence is initially welcomed and embraced, the people will eventually resent the loss of liberty and require law enforcement presence to recede. How this occurs will either enhance or detract from the ongoing relationship with law enforcement. An example of this is easy to see when considering both local law enforcement and the federal effort of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). Local law enforcement seems to have decreased their presence, at least in my area, and are respectfully viewed as helpful, whereas the TSA, an agency that continues to irrationally impede on liberty, is viewed negatively by the traveling public.

Law enforcement is a service-based industry where the public is the customer. Police need to understand both the rights and the fears of the people in order to maintain the appropriate level of service, which waxes and wanes.


Bleich, A., Gelkopf, M, & Solomon, Z. (2003). Exposure to terrorism, stress-related mental health symptoms, and coping behaviors among a nationally representative sample in Israel. Journal of the American Medical Association, 290(5), 612-620.

Klein, L. (2007). Civil liberties and national security in the post 9-11 era: State power and the impact of the USA Patriot Act. Conference Papers – American Sociological Association, 1-8.

WMD Coordinator

According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI; 2007) and the U.S. Department of Justice (2009), the WMD Coordinator, a designated Special Agent within each field office, is responsible for initiating the federal response to any possible WMD event. “The Attorney General has lead authority to investigate federal crimes, which includes the use or attempted use of a WMD. 28 U.S.C. § 533 (2008) and 18 U.S.C. § 2332(a) (2008). The Attorney General has delegated much of this investigative authority to the FBI” (U.S. Department of Justice, 2009, p. 1). The WMD Coordinator helps to fulfill this mandate by being the point of contact for local and state officials when an event involving an WMD is suspected to have occurred.

In the Mattapan scenario, the initial response by the Boston Police Department and the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority Police Department unveil a possible attempt to utilize an explosive to disseminate a chemical or biologic material in a public place. As soon as this plot is uncovered, an emergency response plan should be initiated, which involves notifying the Boston FBI field office of the suspected WMD event. The WMD Coordinator of the Boston field office would be the person receiving this notification. The Massachusetts State Police would also be notified to respond as they are able to provide their own subject matter experts and resources.

As a WMD subject matter expert, once notified of the circumstances, according to the FBI (2007), the WMD Coordinator responds to the scene and assists local and state law enforcement in determining the threat. Once it is established that an WMD is involved, whether by direct investigation at the scene or based on reports from law enforcement, the WMD Coordinator would immediately notify the WMD Directorate at FBI Headquarters. This notification would activate a team of WMD experts who would participate in a conference call with the WMD Coordinator to further identify the threat and, also, identify the additional federal resources needed to respond to the event. The additional resources could be individual experts, federal response teams from other departments or bureaus (e.g. the Joint Terrorism Task Force, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives), or the special teams of the FBI, including the Chemical and Biological Sciences unit (to identify the particular payload material), photo operations personnel, an explosives team (based on the dispersal mechanism being explosives), the disaster squad (to identify any potential victims), and the national level Hazardous Material Response Unit and the local Hazardous Material Response Team to collect evidence from the scene. The WMD Coordinator would, then, be responsible for leading the investigation.

The WMD Coordinator would most likely fulfill his role within the unified incident command structure as Law Enforcement Command. This position would allow him or her to delegate the responsibilities of the response, including the need to provide information to the public. Public Information Officers provide a critical role in major response efforts. They provide enough information to the public to allay any unfounded fears, provide direction and instructions when needed, and filter sensitive information so that it does not become public knowledge. It is important for the public to be apprised of the situation in a calm and authoritative manner to assure them that everything necessary is being done. It is also important for the public to understand the risks of the situation in a realistic manner to prevent a mass overreaction.

The WMD Coordinator position is a valuable tool of the FBI and the federal government. Though the value of this position has been criticized for the lack of readiness and training, preparations are being undertaken to ensure a quality approach to responding to WMD events in the future (McDonald, 2009; U.S. Department of Justice, 2009).


Federal Bureau of Investigation. (2007, March 5). WMD threats: How we respond. Retrieved from

McDonald, J. (2009, October 8). FBI WMD Coordinator program needs improvement [Web log]. The OC Sheriff Blog. Retrieved from

U.S. Department of Justice. (2009, September). The Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Weapons Of Mass Destruction Coordinator program (Audit Report #09-36). Retrieved from