Award Date

5-1-2012

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Sociology

First Committee Member

Andrew L. Spivak

Second Committee Member

Barbara Brents

Third Committee Member

Simon Gottschalk

Fourth Committee Member

William Sousa

Number of Pages

160

Abstract

Over the past three decades, many scholars have examined the prevalence, consequences, and official sanctions of sexual violence. The following study builds on past research by quantitatively examining police and crime analyst discretion in sexual assault claims. Using recently accessed data from the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department from 2008 through 2010 and utilizing labeling theory, rape myth literature, and the theoretical perspectives of justice processing outcomes, I assess the extent to which police officers and crime analysts are influenced by extralegal variables like victim and offender's race, victim's age, the location of assault, incident characteristics, and victim's background. I use binary logistic regression to explore the use of formal and bounded rationality in case attrition by police officers and crime analysts for sexual assault claims. Specifically, I examine the extent to which socially constructed stereotypes about what constitutes `real' rape and `real' rape victims influenced whether or not a sexual assault claim was deemed founded, or legitimate, by the police and whether or not the case was reported to the Uniform Crime Report (UCR) as a rape or attempted rape. Results indicate that police officers and crime analysts employ bounded rationality while determining if a claim should be founded or reported to the UCR. In this analysis, victim's age, the victim offender relationship, incident characteristics, victim's behavior before and after the offense, and the victim's background all influenced the likelihood of claims being deemed founded, as well as being reported to the UCR as rape or attempted rape incidents. Many of the variables found to significantly impact the dependent variables are also associated with rape myths, generating additional questions about the objectivity and/or motivations of members of the criminal justice system. Though initial results imply the significance of culturally constructed notions of `real' rape in determining the legitimacy of sexual assault claims, I am reluctant to claim that the observed bounded rationality is due to rape myth acceptance by key members of the criminal justice system. Instead, I suggest that police officers and crime analysts may place bureaucratic needs of the criminal justice system over victim needs, a process I call "hyper-rationality." Finally, I discuss both the theoretical and political implications of this research.

Keywords

Attrition; Hyper-rationality; Police; Rape – Investigation; Rape – Public opinion; Rape myths; Rape victims; Sex crimes; Sexual assault; UCR; Uniform Crime Report

Disciplines

Criminology | Law Enforcement and Corrections | Sociology | Women's Studies

Language

English


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