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ASU criminologists tapped to help redesign national survey

ASU professors Kristy Holtfreter and Michael Reisig
November 05, 2014

Arizona State University professors Kristy Holtfreter and Michael Reisig have been selected to serve as Technical Review Panelists on the redesign of the National Crime Victimization Survey, the largest national database on the impact of crime and characteristics of violent offenders.

The panel members, who will serve for three years, were chosen for noted expertise in their respective research areas. The goal of the redesign is to increase the efficiency, reliability and use of the survey's data.

“We are looking at three primary objectives,” says Michael Planty, chief of victimizations statistics for the Bureau of Justice Statistics. “We want to extend the utility of the survey for local organizations, modernize and expand the types of crimes covered and capture citizens’ perceptions of law enforcement.”

He says that one goal is to gain greater flexibility to capture contemporary crime – such as identity theft, one of the fastest growing and most feared crimes.

Holtfreter will help to address this by developing measures of fraud victimization and identity theft. She will also contribute to measures of the consequences of victimization, such as financial loss.

Reisig will be working on the third objective: developing community measures such as perceptions of neighborhood conditions, perceptions of police and fairness in justice, and identification of predictors of victim risk.

“We want to capture the percentage of crime not reported,” Planty says. “Community trust is a factor here. We can look at variability across places – areas that have more or less police, regional laws and statutes – to evaluate the effect on local crime.”

Panelists will also examine and propose a methodological component to monitor change more quickly for future surveys.

The National Crime Victimization Survey is an annual data collection for the Bureau of Justice Statistics that helps produce national estimates of the level and nature of criminal victimization in the United States. About 90,000 households are interviewed twice during the year. Households remain part of the program for three years.

Survey data has been collected since 1973. The last update to the survey was done in 1992.

Other panelists include Bonnie Fisher (professor, University of Cincinnati), James P. Lynch (chair and professor, University of Maryland), and American Society of Criminology Fellows Colin Loftin (professor, State University of New York-Albany), Janet Lauritsen (professor, University of Missouri-St. Louis) and Wesley Skogan (professor, Northwestern University).