Project Title: State of the art in agent-based modeling of urban crime: Overview, critical questions and next steps

Affiliated Faculty: Elizabeth Groff

Description: Agent-based modelling is a relatively new methodology that facilitates theory-testing and thought experiments when empirical testing is not an option. This typically arises when data are not available or when manipulation of the variables of interest is not ethical or too expensive. This paper conducts a systematic review of the use of agent-based modeling to model urban crime published prior to 2015. Three goals motivate the endeavor — summarize the state of the art, identify areas where we have strong evidence and ascertain gaps that are limiting our ability to create and evaluate models of urban crime. A set of forward-looking suggestions are proposed.

Project Title: Criminal Violence: Patterns, Explanations and Interventions (4th ed.)(Oxford University Press, 2016)

Affiliated Faculty: Wayne Welsh , co-authored with Marc Riedel

Description: Describes an interdisciplinary approach to the study of violence that cuts across research and theories at the individual, group, organizational, community, and societal levels.

Project Title: Making Ends Meet in Frankford, Philadelphia

Affiliated Faculty: Jamie Fader

Description: This community-based study uses participant observation and in-depth interviews with men aged 25-34 living in the Frankford section of the city. This neighborhood was selected because of its high crime rates, racial/ethnic diversity, concentration of halfway houses and drug treatment clinics, and disproportionate number of returning prisoners. The main part of the study focuses on whether and how crime plays a role in how men in this community make ends meet – that is, whether and how they have desisted from criminal activity. Extant theory suggests that men of this age should exhibit stability in terms of employment, housing, and social ties. However, the characteristics of the neighborhood would suggest that legitimate opportunities may be scarce and their lives may be characterized by less stability and less desistance from offending than traditional life course theory would predict for men of this age. Close attention is paid to how they construct masculinity in a social context in which mainstream markers of manhood are difficult to attain. A secondary study in this community involves regularly attending community meetings and documenting the way in which residents frame the problem of crime and its solutions.

Project Title: Philadelphia Drug Sellers Study

Affiliated Faculty: Jamie Fader

Description: This research projects comprises an active offender study of drug sellers in Philadelphia. Interviews were conducted 2009-2012 and are being used to explore (1) how family criminal capital (i.e., criminal family networks) reduces the risks and potential costs of apprehension; (2) the relationship between legal and illegal employment, including drug sellers’ perceptions of whether drug dealing can be a long-term career; and (3) whether specific criminal justice sanctions (e.g., arrest, drug crackdowns) lead to adjustments in the strategies and techniques used to avoid apprehension.