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CJA

Research Brief No. 16

NEW YORK CITY CRIMINAL JUSTICE AGENCY, Inc.

January 2008

A series of reports summarizing current research from CJA Executive Director, Jerome E. McElroy Director, Research Dept., Richard R. Peterson, Ph.D. Research Brief Editor & Deputy Director, Research, Mary T. Phillips, Ph.D. Graphics & Production, Raymond P. Caligiure Administrative Associate, Annie Su

CJA is a not-for-profit corporation that provides a variety of criminal justice services under a contract with the City of New York. CJA staff interview defendants arrested in New York City, make recommendations for pretrial release, and notify released defendants of upcoming court dates. Within the Agency, the Research Department conducts studies covering a broad array of criminal justice policy concerns. The Research Brief series summarizes the results of some of these studies. New York City Criminal Justice Agency, Inc. 52 Duane Street New York, NY 10007 PHONE: 646 213-2500 FAX: 646 213-2650 WEB: www.nycja.org © 2008 NYC Criminal Justice Agency, Inc.

Pretrial Re-Arrest For Violent Felony Offenses By Qudsia Siddiqi, Ph.D. Defendants re-arrested for violent offenses present a serious threat to the safety of the community. However, our knowledge about re-offending for such offenses among adult defendants is quite limited. The existing research mostly concentrates on recidivism in general. Furthermore, the focus is generally on postconviction recidivism. Empirical research that addresses this issue is needed in order to inform decisions about pretrial release. The current law in New York State does not allow consideration of public safety in making pretrial release and detention decisions, but the findings could be instrumental to researchers and administrators in jurisdictions where consideration of public safety is permitted. This Brief presents the findings from a study conducted to examine pretrial re-arrests for violent felony offenses in a sample of defendants re-arrested in New York City.

An examination of defendants who commit serious, violent crimes while on pretrial release The research focused on the following questions regarding pretrial re-arrest: ● What proportion of re-arrests was for a violent felony offense (VFO)? ● Did the defendants re-arrested for a VFO commit the same type of offense initially? ● What factors differentiated violent felony re-offenders from other re-offenders? ● How did the factors that predicted re-arrest in general compare with the factors that differentiated violent felony re-offenders from other re-offenders?

This Research Brief is adapted from Predicting the Likelihood of Pretrial Re-Arrest for Violent Felony Offenses and Examining the Risk of Pretrial Failure Among New York City Defendants: An Analysis of the 2001 Dataset (2006) by Senior Research Analyst Qudsia Siddiqi, Ph.D. The full report is available on the CJA web site: www.nycja.org/research/research.htm Research Assistance: Justin P. Bernstein Systems Programming: Barbara Geller Diaz, Wayne Nehwadowich Address comments to the author at qudsia_siddiqi@yahoo.com

Please cite as follows, adapted to your citation style: Siddiqi, Qudsia. 2008. “Pretrial Re-Arrest For Violent Felony Offenses.” Research Brief series, no. 16. New York: New York City Criminal Justice Agency, Inc.


CJA

Research Brief

The Sample Data for the present analysis were drawn from all prosecuted arrests in New York City during the threemonth period between January 1 and March 31, 2001. Defendants issued a desk appearance ticket were excluded from the study sample. Only the ďŹ rst arrest during the study period for each defendant was included. Cases were tracked in Criminal Court until November 30, 2001, and in Supreme Court until January 31, 2002.

Figure 1 How the Re-Arrest Sample Was Drawn (A) Of 67,848 prosecuted defendants, 33% pled guilty, 16% had their cases dismissed, and less than 1% had another disposition (including transfer to another court) at arraignment. These cases were excluded from the sample. The remainder (51%) were adjourned (continued) for further appearances.

33% Convicted

16% Dismissed

51% Continued at Arraignment

<1% Other Disposition

(A) All cases N = 67,848

1% Juveniles 19% Not at risk adults

83% No Re-arrest

80% At risk adults

17% Rearrest

(B) Continued N = 34,626 (B) Of the 34,626 continued cases, 1% were cases of juveniles (not included in the study) and 19% had an adult defendant who was held in custody until disposition. These cases were also excluded because a defendant who was in detention did not have the opportunity to commit new crimes in the community during the pretrial period. The remaining 80% were adults who were at risk for re-arrest because they were released pretrial: 62% at arraignment and 18% post-arraignment (not shown).

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(C) At risk N = 27,630

(C) Of the 27,630 defendants who were at risk for re-arrest, 17% were re-arrested while on pretrial release.

Re-arrest sample (D) Re-arrested N = 4,827 (D) The 4,827 defendants who were re-arrested while awaiting disposition on the instant case constitute the rearrest sample for this study. Their demographic and caseprocessing characteristics are examined on page 3, followed by an analysis of the likelihood that the re-arrest was for a violent felony offense.

January 2008


CJA

Research Brief

Characteristics of Defendants and Cases in the Re-Arrest Sample Figure 2

Age N = 4,826

Gender N = 4,824

Demographic and Case-Processing Characteristics

Male

88%

Female

12%

18 & under

14%

19-20

28%

30-39

Ethnicity N= 4,754

18%

Black Hispanic

53% 34%

White Other

Full-Time Activity N=4,510

Median age = 28 years

30%

40+

Disposition N=4,827

Figure 3 shows that three quarters of the re-arrested defendants had already been arrested at least once prior to the instant arrest. Slightly more than two fifths had been convicted previously of a misdemeanor offense, and one third of a felony offense. Twelve percent had been convicted of a VFO. One third had an open case at the time of the initial arrest; two fifths had previously failed to appear for a scheduled court date; and 14% had an open bench warrant.

10%

21-29

Figure 2 shows that a majority of re-arrested defendants were male, with a median age of 28 years. Slightly more than half were black, and fewer than half reported being engaged in a full-time activity (employment, school, or a training program) at the time of the initial arrest. Less than 10% had their cases disposed in Supreme Court.

Figure 3 Criminal History

10% 3%

First Arrest Prior Misdemeanor Conviction Prior Felony Conviction Prior VFO Conviction

45%

Yes No Conflicting Response 2%

53%

24% (N = 4,441) 43% (N = 4,579) 33% (N = 4,579) 12% (N = 4,827) 35% (N = 4,579)

Open Case

92%

Criminal Ct. Supreme Ct.

41% (N = 4,827)

Open Bench Warrant

8%

0%

Prior FTA

20%

40%

60%

80%

14% (N = 4,588) 0%

100%

20%

40%

60%

80% 100%

Figure 4 shows that almost half of the defendants in the total re-arrest sample (bottom bar) were intially arrested on a felony charge (primarily B and D felonies, not shown). Over a fourth of the initial arrests (29%) were made for a violent offense, and 15% were for a violent felony offense. Another 26% of initial arrests were on a drug charge. Figure 4 Charge At Initial Arrest Violent

15%

Property

10% 5% 14%

Drug Public Order

15% 6%

Other 4% (N = 4,785)

Total

0%

8% 12%

26%

29%

15%

Felony

15%

12% 14%

Misdemeanor or lesser severity

26%

54%

1%

22%

16%

27%

49%

25%

21%

51%

50%

75%

100%

The sum of percentages within a bar may not equal the percentage for the total bar because of rounding.

Research Brief #16

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CJA

Research Brief

What proportion of re-arrests was for a violent felony offense (VFO)? Figure 5 Charge At Re-Arrest Violent Property

11%

Drug

7%

13% 14%

Misdemeanor or lesser severity

32%

54%

1%

22%

22%

27%

41%

Total (N = 4,693) 0%

The definition of a violent felony offense (VFO) used for arrest charges in this research is broader than the definition under New York Penal Law, and also differs slightly from the definition used for a prior VFO felony conviction (Fig. 3). See full report for details.

15%

19%

9%

26%

Felony

15%

13%

Public 4% Order Other

8%

7%

18%

8%

21%

59%

25% 50% 75% 100% The sum of percentages within a bar may not equal the percentage for the total bar because of rounding.

Figure 5 shows that 11% of the defendants who were re-arrested pretrial were re-arrested for a violent felony offense, and altogether 18% were re-arrested for a violent offense of any severity. A larger proportion (32%) was re-arrested on a drug charge, including 13% on a felony drug charge. Two fifths (41%) were re-arrested for a felony. Almost half of the VFO re-arrests were for a D felony offense (Figure 6A). Next most frequent were B felony charges (28%), followed by C felony (17%), E felony (4%), and A felony (2%). Assault accounted for over half of the VFO re-arrests (Figure 6B), and robbery accounted for another 40%. The remaining VFO re-arrests were for homicide (5%, including half for attempts) or sex offenses (4%).

Figure 6 Re-Arrests For a Violent Felony Offense: (A) Re-Arrest Severity (B) Re-Arrest Charge (N=497) (N=496) 5% Homicide 17% C Felony

49% D Felony

28% B Felony

52% Assault

4% Sex Offense

40% Robbery

4% E Felony 2% A Felony

Did defendants re-arrested for a VFO commit the same type of offense initially? An examination of the top initial arrest charge for defendants with a violent felony re-arrest suggested some overlap (Figure 7). Of those re-arrested for a VFO, 28% had been arrested initially for such an offense. However, the remaining 72% of defendants who

were re-arrested for a VFO were initially arrested for a variety of other offenses, ranging from 13% for a violent nonfelony offense to 3% for a felony offense other than one included in the four major offense types. Felonies accounted for 60% of the initial arrests.

Figure 7 Charge At Initial Arrest For Defendants Re-Arrested For A VFO 26% Violent

28%

Property

11%

Drug

10%

Public Order Other

13%

0%

Misdemeanor or lesser severity

18%

8% 5% 13% 3% 9% 12%

(N = 496) Total

Felony

15%

5% 17% 8%

41%

54%

1%

22% 27%

60%

25%

21%

40%

50%

75%

100%

The sum of percentages within a bar may not equal the percentage for the total bar because of rounding.

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January 2008


CJA

Research Brief

What factors differentiated violent felony re-offenders from other re-offenders? We developed a statistical model to identify predictors that would differentiate violent felony re-offenders from other re-offenders. Because of the small number of defendants re-arrested for a VFO, we were not able to use the full at-risk sample to conduct the analysis. Instead, we conducted the analysis of violent felony re-arrests on a sample of at-risk defendants who were re-arrested pretrial. We used multiple logistic regression analysis to develop the model. Multiple logistic regression is a statistical technique that is used to examine the individual effects of numerous variables on an outcome (in this case, likelihood that any re-arrest would be for a VFO) while controlling for the effects of the other variables in the model. Figure 8 illustrates the results. Factors that were tested for their possible ability to identify defendants who were more likely to be re-ar-

rested for a VFO than for some other offense type included community-ties variables, criminal-history indicators, charge at initial arrest, demographic attributes, and case-processing characteristics. Among re-arrested defendants, only two factors proved to be statistically signiďŹ cant predictors of the charge type at re-arrest (VFO versus other): the top charge, and the defendantâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s age, at initial arrest. The likelihood that a pretrial re-arrest would be for a VFO was higher among defendants who were initially arrested for a VFO, compared to defendants initially arrested on other charges. In contrast, the likelihood that the re-arrest charge would be a VFO was lower among defendants initially arrested on a drug charge. Additionally, younger defendants who were re-arrested were more likely to be charged with a VFO at rearrest than were older defendants who were re-arrested.

Figure 8 Factors Differentiating Violent Felony Re-Offenders From Other Re-Offenders (N=4,325 Re-Arrested Defendants)

Charge type at initial arrest: VFO Drug

re-arrest charge more likely to be VFO

Age at initial arrest:

re-arrest charge more likely to be VFO

Younger

re-arrest charge less likely to be VFO

Full-time activity Ethnicity Prior conviction

Not a signiďŹ cant predictor

Release type Court of disposition

Research Brief #16

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CJA

Research Brief

How did the factors that predicted pretrial re-arrest in general compare with the factors that differentiated violent felony re-offenders from other re-offenders? We compared the model differentiating violent felony re-offenders from other re-offenders (Figure 8) with a model that we had developed previously using the full at-risk sample to predict pretrial re-arrest in general (Figure 9). The objective was to determine whether the same factors that differentiate between re-arrests for a VFO and other re-arrests also predict re-arrest in general. The comparison indicated that in both models, the top initial arrest charge and age at initial arrest had a significant effect on the outcome variable. However, the effect of the initial charge type was not the same in the two models. The analysis of re-arrest in general showed that defendants initially arrested for violent (and property) offenses were less likely to be re-arrested, whereas defendants initially arrested for drug charges were more likely to be re-arrested, than defendants initially arrested on other charges. On the other hand, the present research shows that although violent offenders were less likely to be re-arrested, violent felony offenders—when they

were re-arrested—tended to be re-arrested for similar offenses. Since our focus in the present research was re-arrest for a violent felony offense, we do not know whether this finding will hold for re-arrests for violent offenses of misdemeanor or lesser severity. With regard to the age at initial arrest, the likelihood of being re-arrested was higher among younger defendants. Similarly, among re-arrested defendants, younger defendants were more likely than older ones to be re-arrested for a VFO. A large number of variables that did not significantly differentiate VFO re-arrests from other re-arrests were, however, significant predictors of the likelihood of rearrest in general. These included: defendant’s community ties (telephone; full-time activity), criminal history (prior misdemeanor conviction; prior felony conviction; open case; prior failure to appear), demographic attributes (gender; ethnicity), and case processing characteristics (case processing time; borough of initial arrest; court of disposition).

Figure 9 Factors Affecting Likelihood of Re-Arrest In General (N=25,021 At-Risk Adult Defendants) Significant effects on the likelihood of re-arrest :

Charge at initial arrest: Type = Violent, Property Drug Severity = A felony E felony, A misdemeanor

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less likelihood of re-arrest greater likelihood of re-arrest less likelihood of re-arrest greater likelihood of re-arrest

Age at initial arrest:

Younger

greater likelihood of re-arrest

Community ties

No telephone No full-time activity

greater likelihood of re-arrest greater likelihood of re-arrest

Criminal history

Prior misdemeanor conviction Prior felony conviction Open case Prior failure to appear

greater likelihood of re-arrest greater likelihood of re-arrest greater likelihood of re-arrest greater likelihood of re-arrest

Demographics

Male Black, Hispanic

greater likelihood of re-arrest greater likelihood of re-arrest

Case processing

Longer case processing time Disposed in Brooklyn Disposed in Criminal Court

greater likelihood of re-arrest greater likelihood of re-arrest greater likelihood of re-arrest

January 2008


CJA Our research shows that in a sample of defendants who were released pretrial, 17% were re-arrested before disposition of their case. Of those who were re-arrested, about one tenth were charged with a violent felony offense at the time of their re-arrest. Two factors proved to be useful in differentiating rearrest for a VFO from re-arrest on other charges: the offense type at the initial arrest, and the defendant’s age. Among re-arrested defendants, those initially arrested for a VFO were more likely—and those initially arrested for a drug offense were less likely—to be re-arrested for a VFO than defendants initially arrested on other types of charges. These findings were consistent with results from prior studies, which suggest that some defendants are likely to re-commit the same types of offenses as those for which they were originally charged. Also consistent with prior studies was the finding that for defendants who were re-arrested, the younger the defendant the higher the likelihood that the re-arrest offense was a violent felony.

Research Brief

A much larger range of factors had a significant effect on the likelihood that a released defendant would be re-arrested at all. Predictors of pretrial re-arrest in general included, in addition to the initial arrest charge type and age, a number of other case and defendant characteristics. A further difference between predicting rearrest for a VFO and re-arrest in general was that defendants arrested for a violent offense were less likely to be re-arrested, but—if the initial charge was a VFO and the defendant was re-arrested—they were more likely to be re-arrested for a VFO. The fact that the other case and defendant characteristics that predicted re-arrest did not also significantly differentiate the type of re-arrest is not surprising because there was little variation in these attributes among the re-arrested defendants. Furthermore, the small number re-arrested for a VFO made the task of prediction difficult because of the rarity of the event. This may have affected previous studies, too, which identified only a handful of variables as significant predictors of pretrial recidivism for violent offenses.

POLICY IMPLICATIONS Our previous research showed that violent offenders who were released pretrial were less likely to be re-arrested prior to disposition of the case than defendants who had been arrested on other types of charges and released. On the other hand, our current research suggests that when re-arrested, defendants initially charged with a violent felony offense had a tendency to re-commit the same type of offense. Taken together, these research findings raise questions about devising release and detention policies based on consideration of public safety. For example, should violent offenders be detained — ignoring the research findings that if released they are less likely than other defendants to be re-arrested — or should they be released, despite the fact that if released and re-arrested, those who were initially arrested on a VFO are more likely than others to pose a serious threat to the safety of the community? A further question is raised by the limitations imposed on the study by the small number of defendants re-arrested for a VFO. We do not know whether a violent felony charge at initial arrest would predict the likelihood of a similar re-arrest among all at-risk defendants. Our research does not offer a clear answer to either of these questions. It is difficult to make

Research Brief #16

predictions about re-arrest behavior, but we recommend further research to shed light on these and other issues. Another question raised by this study is whether the findings pertaining to violent felony arrests (and re-arrests) also apply to arrests made for violent offenses of misdemeanor or lesser severity. In other words, if re-arrested, are defendants initially charged with a violent misdemeanor offense more likely to re-commit the same type of offense? Alternatively, when re-arrested, do the defendants initially arrested for a violent felony have the tendency to re-offend with a violent offense of lesser severity? More research is needed to explore those additional issues. A different area for further investigation is suggested by the finding that drug offenders who were re-arrested were less likely than other defendants to be re-arrested for a violent felony offense. The current research did not address the question of what offenses drug offenders were re-arrested for. Further research is needed to explore whether re-arrested drug offenders, like re-arrested violent felony offenders, are more likely to re-commit the same offense than defendants initially arrested on other charges.

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Research Brief from

CJA

No. 16 (January 2008) Predicting The Likelihood Of Pretrial Re-Arrest For Violent Felony Offenses Forthcoming: No. 17 (May 2008) Pretrial Misconduct Among Domestic Violence Defendants by Richard R. Peterson, Ph.D.

Most recently published in this series: No. 15 (September 2007): The Risk of Re-Arrest For Serious Juvenile Offenders (Gewirtz) No. 14 (May 2007): Bail, Detention, & Nonfelony Case Outcomes (Phillips) No. 13 (January 2007): An Evaluation of CJA’s New Release-Recommendation System (Siddiqi) No. 12 (September 2006): Pretrial Outcomes For Domestic Violence Defendants (Peterson) No. 11 (April 2006): New York’s Gun Court Initiative: A Pilot Program Study (Solomon) No. 10 (December 2005): Assessing the Impact of Differing Models of Youth Crime Prosecution (Gewirtz) No. 9 (August 2005): Prosecutors’ Bail Requests and the CJA Release Recommendation (Phillips) No. 8 (April 2005): Pretrial Re-Arrest Among New York City Defendants (Siddiqi) No. 7 (December 2004): Manhattan’s Specialized Domestic Violence Court (Peterson)

www.nycja.org/research/research.htm

Research Brief from

CJA

No. 16 (January 2008)

Predicting The Likelihood Of Pretrial Re-Arrest For Violent Felony Offenses The New York City Criminal Justice Agency, Inc. 52 Duane Street New York, NY 10007

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Re-Arrest for Violent Felonies 08