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Crime and Punishment in Russia and the United States: 1990-1998

NCJ Number
International Journal of Comparative and Applied Criminal Justice Volume: 27 Issue: 1 Dated: Spring 2003 Pages: 39-67
James L. Williams; Daniel G. Rodeheaver; Denise W. Huggins
Date Published
29 pages
This study examined patterns in the police and court disposition of homicide, rape, robbery, and aggravated assault in Russia and the United States during the period of 1990 to 1998 extending previous cross national literature on case processing through an explicit focus on Russia and a discussion of police activity, sentencing, and prison use.
Expanding at a rapid rate is the intranational and comparative literature on violent crime and on the processing of violent crime. In addition, the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 affected all segments of Russian society, including the criminal justice system. This study examined the criminal justice processing of selected violent crimes in Russia during the period 1990-1998. It compared the police and court processing of these selected violent crimes in Russia and the United States during this time period. Data on crime in Russia were obtained from the 1995, 1997, and 2000 editions of Prestupnost’ i Pravonarusheniia, and data on violent crime rates for 1990-1998 in the United States were obtained from the National Judicial Reporting Programs. Information on the processing of criminal cases was obtained from the National Judicial Reporting Program. Highlighted findings include: (1) for each year during this period, homicide rates and arrest rates for homicide were substantially higher in Russia than in the United States; (2) Russia saw a slight decline in conviction rates during this period as opposed to a significant increase in the United States; and (3) the vast majority of those convicted of homicide (over 80 percent) in each country received prison sentences. The trends in rape cases indicate that reported rape rates were much higher in the United States during this period, both countries reported a significant decrease in the rate of rape during this period, and arrest rates for rape declined in both countries. The findings suggest the presence of dramatic differences between the operations of the United States and Russian criminal justice systems during this period. Tables and references