Asian journal of criminology

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The Asian Journal of Criminology advances the study of criminology and criminal justice, promoting evidence-based public policy in crime prevention, and comparative studies on crime and criminal justice. The Journal provides a platform for discussion and exchange of ideas among criminologists, policymakers, and practitioners, by publishing papers relating to crime, crime prevention, criminal law, medico-legal topics and the administration of criminal justice in Asian countries. The focus is on theoretical and methodological papers with an emphasis on evidence-based, empirical research addressing crime in Asian contexts. It presents research from a broad variety of methodological traditions, including quantitative, qualitative, historical, and comparative methods. Its multi-disciplinary approach spans a range of disciplines, including criminology, criminal justice, law, sociology, psychology, forensic science, social work, urban studies, history, and geography.
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New Psychoactive Substances and Law Enforcement Responses in a Local Context in China—a Case Study of Methcathinone

The illicit supply of new psychoactive substances (NPS) in and from China has become a global concern. In line with the international prohibitionist regime, China has instituted a “zero tolerance” supply reduction policy, enacted various laws to regulate controlled substances, and punished related criminal behaviors severely. However, how the NPS supply is organized and how the national laws are interpreted and implemented at the local level have rarely been addressed. Data from qualitative interviews with governmental and judicial actors are used to investigate the experiences concerning the illicit supply of methcathinone and the dynamic ways in which drug policy and laws are implemented practically. Findings show the significance of Changzhi city as a distribution center for illicit supply of methcathinone, the fixed supply patterns, the prioritized measures for controlling methcathinone supply and demand, and the personal strategies used by individual actors to cope with political pressures and job requirements. This study concludes that the unbalanced coexistence of campaign-style and conventional governance results in active institutional arrangements and passive personal strategies in implementing the drug policy and further contributes to a discrepancy between policy formulation and its implementation in practice.

Review of Enshen Li, Punishment in Contemporary China: Its Evolution, Development and Change
Review of Peng Wang, The Chinese Mafia: Organized Crime, Corruption, and Extra-legal Protection
Examining the Fear of Victimization among Taiwanese Inmates

Inmates have reported to have experienced the fear of victimization when they were incarcerated. Prior studies support the association among fear, victimization, and violence in correctional institutes. Research on prisoner’s fear of victimization has tended to focus mainly on either individual or structural factors, but rarely have both sources been examined simultaneously. Moreover, most of what is known about prison victimization and, in particular, inmates’ fear of victimization has emerged from studies among American and European prisoners. This study adds to this line of research by examining the fear of victimization in a large sample of Taiwanese inmates, using multi-level models that explore both individual and architectural factors of custodial institutions. Findings showed that both individual- and aggregate-level variables are important for explaining inmates’ fear of other inmates, whereas the aggregate-level variables are more important for understanding inmates’ fear of correctional officers. Findings also revealed that inmates with different characteristics perceive a distinct fear of victimization in different custody locations. More importantly, findings indicated several unique results within the Eastern context compared to the Western literature. Future research directions and policy implications have been made.

Reinventing Punitive Justice and the Community Justice System: Address to the Asian Criminological Society
How Exceptional Is India? A Test of Situational Action Theory

This study explores the generalizability of Situational Action Theory (SAT) in India by testing hypotheses related to the person–environment interaction in explaining offending. Drawing on data from a sample of 872 students between the ages of 14 and 17 from an Indian city collected as part of the International Self-Report Delinquency Study (ISRD3), we tested the hypothesis that Indian youths will report more delinquent acts if they have a higher propensity to commit crime combined with a greater exposure to criminogenic activities. Our findings show unequivocal support for the applicability of SAT in India where youths reported a slight increase in offending behavior if they exercised low self-control or if they were less moralistic (i.e., they were more crime-prone), or when exposed to criminal activities or peers. Consistent with tests of SAT in other contexts, we find that exposure to criminogenic environments increases offending for youth with higher levels of criminal propensity but does not impact youth with lower levels of criminal propensity. We speculate that the overall low rate of delinquent offending coupled with the cultural milieu of Indian youths may explain why criminogenic exposure may be less relevant in light of young people’s strong avoidance of rule-breaking.

Review of Heng Choon (Oliver) Chan, A Global Casebook of Sexual Homicide
Review of Qi Chen, Governance, Social Control and Legal Reform in China: Community Sanctions and Measures
Review of Vincent Shing Cheng, Hypocrisy: The Tales and Realities of Drug Detainees in China
Support for the Death Penalty in Taiwan?: a Study of Value Conflict and Ambivalence

While a substantial number of studies have examined public opinion on the death penalty in the USA, and more recently parts of Asia, including China, very few empirical studies have considered support for the death penalty in Taiwan. This paper examines public attitudes in Taiwan and the role of ‘value conflict’ in attitudes to both death penalty abolition and in the context of alternatives. Using the results of 1016 respondents drawn from a national face-to-face sample (n = 2039) survey conducted by the Taiwan Alliance to End the Death Penalty (TAEDP) in 2014, we demonstrate that public attitudes in Taiwan are simultaneously committed to many underlying values in conflict. The results also indicate that value conflict exists among the majority of the sample (more than 60 per cent) who are prepared to accept alternatives to abolition, and whom we can describe as ambivalent. Recognition of value conflict, ambivalence and the moral psychology underpinning public attitudes to the death penalty is essential, not only conceptually but to allow for a more appropriate and nuanced understanding of the abolitionist/retentionist debate.

Reviewer’s Comments to “The Measurement of Legitimacy: a Rush to Judgment?”
Contradictions in Judicial Support for Capital Punishment in India and Bangladesh: Utilitarian Rationales

India and Bangladesh share a common history, and each has developed somewhat similarly since partition. However, while both countries now have relatively low murder rates, India has seen a decline in the rate of executions, while Bangladesh continues to impose death sentences and carry out executions at a higher rate. There have been challenges to the death penalty in India, restricting its use to exceptional cases. The same has not occurred in Bangladesh. Yet in both countries, systemic flaws in the criminal process are evident. This article draws on two original empirical research projects that explored judges’ opinions on the retention and administration of capital punishment in India and Bangladesh. The data expose justice systems marred by corruption, incompetence, abuses of due process, and arbitrary and inconsistent treatment of defendants from arrest through to conviction and sentencing. It shows that those with the power to sentence to death have little faith in the integrity of the criminal process. Yet, a startling paradox emerges from these studies; despite personal knowledge of its flaws, judges have trust in the death penalty to deter crime and to realise other sentencing aims and feel retention benefits society. This is explained by reference to utilitarian values. Not only did our judges express strongly utilitarian justifications for sentencing people to death, in terms of their erroneous belief in its deterrent effect, but some also articulated utilitarian justifications for misconduct in pre-trial processes, suggesting that it was necessary to break the rules to secure convictions when the system was dysfunctional and ineffective.

Clarifying the Contours of the Police Legitimacy Measurement Debate: a Response to Cao and Graham

With the emergence of police legitimacy as a major indicator of good policing, scholars have continued to push our conceptual understanding of this construct. In recent years, a debate has emerged about whether four factors—lawfulness, procedural justice, distributive justice, and effectiveness—are possible sources of legitimacy judgments (Tyler in Annual Review of Psychology 57, 375–400, 2006) or actual components of legitimacy (Tankebe in Criminology 51, 103–135, 2013). My goal in the present paper is review the contours of this debate.

Response to Criticism: Understanding the Conceptual and Measurement Models of Legitimacy
Debating Core Conceptual and Measurement Issues About Police Legitimacy—Editor’s Introduction
Response to Criticism: Police Legitimacy, Beyond the Entrenched Niches of Expertise

The purpose of this article is to first re-state the key points of the rejoinder by Cao and Graham. It then proceeds to defend and clarify the arguments that we have made in our article by raising a few misinterpretations by the two reviewers. I end this article with an advice from John Braithwaite 30 years ago that we should nurture the new endeavors in criminology instead of being united against such undertakings.

Make Sense of Self in Prison Work: Stigma, Agency, and Temporality in a Chinese Women’s Prison

In this study, we highlight the temporality of agency as many choices made by incarcerated women are found to be based not only on their evaluation of the present situation but also on their reflections on the past and anticipation of the future. Guided by feminist methodology, semi-structured interviews were conducted with 52 incarcerated women and 13 female prison officers from one Chinese women’s prison. Before entering prison, individuals are already situated in different social positions embedded in a complex intersectionality of class, gender, family, and other social relations. These differences, sometimes huge, among the incarcerated women, complicate the exercise of power in prison. By exploring self-empowerment strategies in the everyday practice of prison labor in the Chinese penal system, we illustrate, through this study, how incarcerated women’s use of language, their body, and family relationships shapes the way they interpret the meaning of prison work, perceive their position, and sustain alternative identities beyond that of an incarcerated individual. It is argued that acknowledgment of the negotiated nature of power should be understood as being intimately connected to the temporality of agency, which reflects a complex dialectic relationship between domination and resistance in both contingent and consistent ways.

Factors Associated with Drug-Related Recidivism Among Paroled Amphetamine-Type Stimulant Users in Japan

Few studies have used longitudinal data to investigate drug-related recidivism among drug users in Asia. This study examined demographic and background characteristics that predicted drug-related recidivism among paroled amphetamine-type stimulant (ATS) users in Japan who participated in a mandatory educational program throughout their parole period conducted by professional and volunteer probation officers. Analyzing data released in 2017 by the Ministry of Justice in Japan, we reviewed 10-year recidivism rates of 1807 individuals placed on parole in 2003 (1561 men and 246 women, mean age = 37.5 [SD = 9.8]). We investigated the possible association between the length of parole and drug-related recidivism in Japan based on the continuing care model for individuals with drug addiction, which has not been previously explored. The results showed a 47.5% drug-related recidivism rate for all participants. Younger age, a higher number of previous prison sentences, a longer prison sentence, shorter parole, and a diagnosis of mental disorders were significantly associated with a higher drug-related recidivism rate. The presence of a higher number of previous prison sentences and a longer prison sentence were risk factors for drug-related recidivism, which suggests that incarcerating ATS users is ineffective for reducing drug-related recidivism. These results indicated a possible application of the continuing care model for assisting ATS users in Japan with further research.

The Measurement of Legitimacy: A Rush to Judgment?

In an important article on the methodological issues surrounding measuring of police legitimacy, Jackson and Bradford (Asian Journal of Criminology,, 2019) adequately warn against the use of confirmatory factor analysis as an adjudication tool for differentiating the possible sources and constituent components of police legitimacy. However, in the process of arguing against the Sun et al.’s (Asian Journal of Criminology, 13, 275–291, 2018) measure of legitimacy, they inadvertently bring attention to a more foundational issue—How should scientists conduct research and test theories in various cultures? Furthermore, their argument against the alternative measuring of police legitimacy elucidates an extensive problem facing criminology—they have brought attention paid to the interrogation of operationalizing key constructs within criminology. We argue that Jackson and Bradford’s (2019) critiques of Sun et al.’s (2018) modeling and subsequent testing of police legitimacy in China are a bit overstated. Additionally, we contend that testing theories, such as police legitimacy, across cultures should be conducted both top-down and bottom-up—neither are necessarily contradictory. We urge readers to be the ultimate amicus curiae because this issue is not a concretely right-or-wrong type issue.

Women Who Participate in Illegal Pyramid Selling: Voices from Female Rural Migrant Offenders in China

Mainly through a case study, this article examines Chinese women’s involvement in one form of organised crime—illegal pyramid selling—which is increasingly prevalent among female offenders in recent years in China. The article discusses the socioeconomic context to situate the findings and introduces the research methods and data. It then details the case study discussing the following: first, the nature of pyramid schemes and the Chinese law concerning the illicit business; second, migrant women’s entry into illegal pyramid selling and their motives; and third, the roles that women play in the criminal operations. In addition, women’s gains and losses as a result of participation in the crime are explored. Finally, it concludes the article by highlighting the empirical evidence presented and offers implications of the research.

Review of Heng Choon (Oliver) Chan, Samuel M. Y. Ho, Psycho-Criminological Perspective of Criminal Justice in Asia
School Characteristics, Strain, and Adolescent Delinquency: a Test of Macro-Level Strain Theory in China

Despite the important role of schools in influencing juvenile delinquency, limited research has investigated the contextual effects of schools on delinquency. Using the framework of macro-level strain theory, this study investigates the effects of school-level strain on delinquent behavior among Chinese adolescents. The sample comprises 1411 adolescents from 32 middle schools in Guangzhou, a large city in Southern China. Results from multilevel regression models show that school-aggregated level of strain is positively associated with both self-destructive and other-directed delinquent behaviors, after adjusting for individual strain and other sociodemographic variables. Specifically, school-level anticipated educational goal blockage and negative treatment by teachers are positively associated with self-destructive behavior, whereas school mean level of negative treatment by peers is positively related to other-directed behavior. Although individual-level strain is positively associated with both types of delinquency, it only partially mediates the effect of school-level strain on self-destructive delinquent behavior. This study also investigates whether school-level variables may condition the strain-delinquency relationship. The results show a significant interaction between personal strain and overall delinquent schoolmates on both self- and other-directed delinquent behaviors, indicating that school-level delinquent peers significantly exacerbate the effect of strain on delinquent behaviors. These findings suggest that the effort to reduce juvenile delinquency should target practices to alleviate both individual strain and aggregate strain, and provide more resources and support for students, particularly those in schools with substantial disruptive student behaviors, to legitimately cope with strains.

Illegal Drug Use Among Adolescents in Schools and Facilities: 3-Year Surveys in Taiwan

This study investigated and compared the prevalence of illegal drug use among students and detainees in Taiwan. Stratified sampling of schools in the major cities of Taiwan, including New Taipei City, Taichung City, and Kaohsiung City, was adopted, and surveys were conducted from 2014 to 2017. The sample in the study consists of 2,190 cohort school students and 125 detained juveniles in the Taipei, Taichung, and Kaohsiung Juvenile Detention Houses each year. The response rate is 87% on average. The results show that 1.5% of students and 65.8% of detained juveniles have ever used drugs. From 2014 to 2017, the survey indicates that over 60% of detained juveniles have ever possessed and used drugs. The findings reveal that ketamine and disguised drugs (e.g., cathinone mix with methylamphetamine, 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine, and ketamine) are the most popularly used drugs among Taiwanese adolescents. The findings may deserve further attention in tracking and monitoring the juvenile illicit drug use from a comprehensive national prevalence survey.

Private, Hidden and Obscured: Image-Based Sexual Abuse in Singapore

This article documents women’s experiences of image-based sexual abuse (IBSA) in Singapore. Drawing from 30 IBSA cases reported to a local sexual assault service provider, it utilises McGlynn, Rackley and Houghton’s (Feminist Legal Studies 25(1):25–46, 2017) IBSA continuum and Powell and Henry’s (2017) IBSA typology to map the different ways image technologies impacted Singaporean women’s experiences of sexual violence. This article also builds on extant IBSA literature which has focused on cases featuring image dissemination, online public spheres and stranger perpetrators, to provide an account of IBSA in the private sphere. I argue that while dominant framings show IBSA intertwined with the conditions of the public sphere, these cases show how IBSA and IBSA victims/survivors remain discursively, spatially and politically hidden. This article highlights the need to include the private sphere as a site of analysis to deepen understandings of IBSA types, contexts and victims/survivors within international research.

When Law and Practice Collide: the Implementation of the Plea-Bargaining Process in Malaysia

The amendment of the Malaysian Criminal Procedure Code in 2010 formalised the plea-bargaining process and introduced two new sections, 172C and 172D. The new procedures are intended to reduce the backlog of cases in the criminal courts and as a swift alternative to a full criminal trial. However, the law in action does not appear to be in line with the law in the statute book because currently the actors involved in the process are avoiding the use of the new procedural law. Instead, those actors are following the old informal practice of plea-bargaining to achieve their personal goals which may be inconsistent with the organisational goals of the judiciary and prosecution. This paper adopts a qualitative methodology, in which the primary data is obtained from semi-structured interviews with twenty respondents comprising the stakeholders in the criminal justice system.

Blurring the Distinction Between Empirical and Normative Legitimacy? A Methodological Commentary on ‘Police Legitimacy and Citizen Cooperation in China’

In a fascinating study into the nature of police legitimacy in Southern China, Sun et al. (2018) present evidence that what researchers have previously been treated as possible sources of legitimacy—public perceptions of police conduct defined along the lines of procedural justice, distributive justice, effectiveness and lawfulness—are in fact constituent components of legitimacy. In this methodological commentary, we argue that the empirical strategy used to reach this conclusion is not fit for purpose because both conceptual stances—possible sources of legitimacy or constituent components of legitimacy—are consistent with the same fitted statistical model. Analysing nationally representative data from 30 countries across Europe and beyond, we also show that erroneous support for the approach to measurement is likely to be found wherever one looks. To be sensitive to cultural context means using a methodology that does not impose the preconditions of legitimacy, and we counsel against a trend starting in international criminology that does precisely the opposite.

Social Disorganization Theory in Contemporary China: a Review of the Evidence and Directions for Future Research

This paper assesses and synthesizes the cumulative results from the empirical research on social disorganization and crime-related phenomena at the neighborhood level in China. Our review identified 17 relevant quantitative, qualitative, and mixed method studies published in journals and books from the late-1990s to date. Our goal is to take stock of the cumulative knowledge to inspire future research in China, thereby advancing social disorganization theory. We synthesize the main findings about the effects of structural factors and intervening mechanisms from quantitative studies, summarize briefly conclusions from qualitative and mixed methods research to crosscheck our synthesis, and identify methodological and theoretical limitations. Our conclusions point to promising directions for future research with special attention to prospects for theory development through comparative criminological inquiry.

Trust in the Police in Rural China: a Comparison Between Villagers and Local Officials

Although the past decade has witnessed the rise of studies on Chinese evaluations of the police, rural villagers’ assessments of the police remain under-researched. Drawing upon performance theory and survey data from China’s countryside, this study tested whether variations in satisfaction with government performance and life are linked to villagers’ and officials’ trust in county and local/town police. We found that villagers displayed lower levels of trust in the police than local officials. Higher satisfaction with government performance and integrity were associated with greater trust in county police among both villagers and officials. Villagers’ greater satisfaction with crime control and safety led to their stronger trust in both county and town police, but such satisfaction was not significantly related to officials’ trust in both levels of police forces. Rural residents’ generalized trust and particularized trust were associated with a greater likelihood of viewing the police as trustworthy. Meanwhile, female respondents, both villagers and officials, and higher-income officials were more likely to view the police as trustworthy. Directions for future research and policy are discussed.

Thirty Years of Scholarly Influence in International Journals and Its Relation to the Most-Cited Scholars in Asian Criminology

Citation analysis provides a quantitative means of tracking the most influential scholars and works within a field. Despite this advantage, there is a dearth of research that provides more than a snapshot of influence over a relatively short time period. One exception is the citation analysis body of research conducted by Cohn and Farrington (1990, 2012), which has recently been expanded to include European (Cohn and Iratzoqui 2016) and Asian (Farrington et al. 2019) criminologies. The current paper presents a thirty-year analysis (1986–2015) of scholarly influence within four international journals (Australian and New Zealand Journal of Criminology, British Journal of Criminology, Canadian Journal of Criminology and Criminal Justice, and Criminology), as well as an analysis of the Asian Journal of Criminology (AJC) over its first 10-year period (2006–2015). The main conclusions are that, while rankings over time are not generally consistent within journals, the most-cited scholars tend to remain highly ranked over time across the four main international journals. Furthermore, the most highly cited scholars in the four international journals were also highly cited in AJC. The most-cited works of the top scholars across all of the international journals, including AJC, covered four major areas, including developmental and life-course criminology, theoretical issues, statistics, and policy issues.

Review of Børge Bakken, Crime and the Chinese Dream
Examining the Links Between General Strain and Control Theories: an Investigation of Delinquency in South Korea

In modifying general strain theory (GST), Agnew has accepted the control-related variables as conditioning variables to moderate or mediate the casual process through strain into delinquency. In this regard, this study aims to empirically and theoretically address the void of connecting traditional and redefined self-control variables to GST. To explore this issue, the current study employed data derived from the Korea Children and Youth Panel Study (KCYPS). Specifically, three waves (2012, 2013, and 2014) were used to test hypotheses from GST and control theories. Both trait-based low self-control and revised self-control partially mediated the relationship between strain and delinquency. However, only redefined self-control significantly interacted with strain in producing delinquency. The current research reveals the possible integration of redefined control theory and GST.

Proactive Policing: a Summary of the Report of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine

This paper provides a summary of our report for the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine on proactive policing. We find that there is sufficient scientific evidence to support the adoption of many proactive policing practices if the primary goal is to reduce crime, though the evidence base generally does not provide long-term or jurisdictional estimates. In turn, we conclude that crime prevention outcomes can often be obtained without producing negative community reactions. However, the most effective proactive policing strategies do not appear to have strong positive impacts on citizen perceptions of the police. At the same time, some community-based strategies have begun to show evidence of improving the relations between the police and public. We conclude that there are likely to be large racial disparities in the volume and nature of police–citizen encounters when police target high-risk people or high-risk places, as is common in many proactive policing programs. We could not conclude whether such disparities are due to statistical prediction, racial animus, implicit bias, or other causes.

Real Lives and Lost Lives: Making Sense of ‘Locked in’ Responses to Intimate Partner Homicide

The problem of intimate partner homicide is featuring increasingly on national and international policy agendas. Over the last 40 years, responses to this issue have been characterised by preventive strategies (including ‘positive’ policing; the proliferation of risk assessment tools, and multi-agency working) and post-event analyses (including police inquiries and domestic homicide reviews). In different ways, each of these responses has become ‘locked in’ to policies. Drawing on an analysis of police inquiries into domestic homicides in England and Wales over a 10-year period, this paper will explore the nature of these ‘locked in’ responses and will suggest that complexity theory offers a useful lens through which to make sense of them and the ongoing consistent patterning of intimate partner homicide more generally. The paper will suggest this lens in embracing what is known and unknown affords a different way of thinking about and responding to this problem.

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