Crimes committed in the presence of children proposed methodology for 2008 study
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Crimes Committed in the Presence of Children Proposed Methodology for 2008 Study. What are the objectives of the study?. To identify crimes witnessed by children To describe the nature of such crimes

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Crimes committed in the presence of children proposed methodology for 2008 study

Crimes Committed in the Presence of ChildrenProposed Methodologyfor 2008 Study


What are the objectives of the study
What are the objectives of the study?

  • To identify crimes witnessed by children

  • To describe the nature of such crimes

  • To examine sentencing outcomes and compare them to sentences in cases that do not involve child witnesses

  • To review the criminal code of other states and identify provisions relating to children as witnesses


How will we identify cases for the study
How will we identify cases for the study?

  • While criminal justice databases, such as the PSI, contain some automated information about victims (such as age and injury), these databases do not contain any information specific to witnesses of crime.

  • Identifying crimes committed in the presence of a child will require a new strategy.

    • Multi-pronged approach

    • Cast a broad net, then examine cases more closely to determine which ones should be included in the analysis

  • For comparison purposes, cases involving children as victims will also be identified.


  • What data sources may be useful
    What data sources may be useful?

    • Pre/Post-Sentence Investigation (PSI) database

    • Sentencing guidelines (SG) database

    • Supreme Court data system (CAIS)

      • Circuit Court

      • General District Court

      • Juvenile & Domestic Relations Court

  • Virginia Department of Social Services

  • City of Hampton’s Protect Our Kids project

  • Department of Corrections’ Probation & Parole Officers


  • How will we select cases
    How will we select cases?

    • Virginia Crime Code (VCC) at indictment and conviction

      • Certain crimes may be more likely to be witnessed by children, such as domestic assault or gang crimes

  • Electronic search of offense narratives

    • A computer program will look for key words such as “child,” “minor,” “juvenile,” “son,” “daughter,” “school,” etc.

  • Victim information

    • Victims under the age of 18 can be readily identified in cases involving violent crimes

  • PSI database


    How will we select cases1
    How will we select cases?

    • Virginia Crime Code (VCC) at conviction

    • Guidelines departures related to children

    • Victim information

      • The sexual assault guidelines have a separate factor that is scored when the victim is under the age of 13, even in cases involving indecent liberties and child pornography

    Sentencing Guidelines Database


    How will we select cases2
    How will we select cases?

    • Virginia Crime Code (VCC) or statute at indictment and conviction

    Supreme Court Data System


    How will we select cases3
    How will we select cases?

    • Data are limited to physical child abuse and neglect cases and do not include instances where a child was present during a criminal act.

    • Data do not commonly contain information regarding criminal proceedings, since the existence of a criminal case has no bearing on how Child Protective Services (CPS) manages their cases.

    • Data could possibly supplement information for cases identified through other sources.

    • Matching the cases is likely to be difficult since CPS workers are not required to collect or verify the caretaker’s social security number, date of birth, etc.

    Virginia Department of Social Services


    How will we select cases4
    How will we select cases?

    • The program is designed to assist children who witness violence at home, at school or in the community.

    • Approximately 2,000 children and 700-800 families are assisted each year.

    • Automated data are available from fall 2002 through August 2007.

      • However, no information about suspects was recorded during that time.

  • Staff began recording information on suspects within the last year.

    • However, no data has been automated since August 2007.

    • Manual file review is possible.

  • Hampton’s Protect Our Kids Program


    How will we select cases5
    How will we select cases?

    • The program receives over 90% of its referrals from the Hampton Police Department.

    • The Hampton Police Department has modified its incident report to reflect when a child has witnessed violence.

    • Commission staff will contact the Hampton Police Department in the coming days.

    Hampton’s Protect Our Kids Program

    (continued)


    How will we select cases6
    How will we select cases?

    • Department of Corrections’ probation officers learn details of cases as they conduct pre-sentence investigations and as they supervise convicted felons.

    • The Commission could send a letter to chief probation officers requesting assistance in identifying cases in which children have witnessed crimes.

      • Probation officers could identify previous cases and offenders they know of so that they can be included in the study.

      • The Commission could consider asking probation officers to continue identifying cases, as they come into the system, during the coming year.

    Department of

    Corrections’ Probation and Parole Officers