Kaitlyn Konefal joined ICJIA as an R&A intern in August 2016. She is a recent graduate of Loyola University Chicago, where she obtained bachelor’s degrees in Psychology and Criminal Justice & Criminology. She is particularly interested in issues related to sentencing, correctional policy, prosecutorial decision-making and plea-bargaining, and intersectionality and social inequalities in justice system processing.
Although there have been documented declines in U.S. crime rates in past decades, recent news headlines in Chicago often highlight incidents of, and concerns about, violence, particularly gun violence. Prior research has noted fear of crime in urban neighborhoods is associated with physical deterioration, as well as social disorganization and vulnerability. ICJIA researchers surveyed more than 1,000 Chicago residents in 16 neighborhoods on fear of crime and compared their responses to a measure of neighborhood social vulnerability. This study found an association between social vulnerability and fear of crime. In addition, half of the residents had greater fear than expected based on neighborhood social vulnerability and half had less fear of crime than expected. Future research can serve to understand the impact of, and ways to reduce, unwarranted fear that can have a negative impact on individuals.
Research has found nearly all prisoners have experienced a traumatic event in their life and a high proportion suffer from PTSD. Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority and WestCare Foundation (Illinois) researchers surveyed 573 Illinois prisoners to understand the trauma they experienced and explore the relationship between trauma and substance misuse. Researchers found 89 percent of those surveyed had both experienced and witnessed more than one traumatic event during their lifetime. Almost one-fourth of the sample were identified as being symptomatic for PTSD (24 percent). In addition, researchers found a relationship found between greater PTSD symptoms and higher drug use. This article describes survey findings and provides implications for policy and practice in correctional facilities.
During stages of ongoing, yet incomplete, cognitive development, youth may be more inclined to take risks and experiment with drugs and alcohol and are often heavily influenced by their peers, leading to negative outcomes. Nationally and in Illinois, traditionally high drug use categories of marijuana and alcohol appear to be stable or falling and youth use of other drugs remains relatively low.