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Arrest Rates and Crime Rates: When Does a Tipping Effect Occur?

Don W. Brown
Social Forces
Vol. 57, No. 2, Special Issue (Dec., 1978), pp. 671-682
Published by: Oxford University Press
DOI: 10.2307/2577689
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2577689
Page Count: 12
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Arrest Rates and Crime Rates: When Does a Tipping Effect Occur?
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Abstract

The tipping effect of sanction certainty reported by Tittle and Rowe is of considerable theoretical import. This paper attempts to determine whether the tipping effect is peculiar to their data. An examination of sanction certainty indicators and the index crime rate in California cities and counties plus a further examination of Florida city and county data reveals that the tipping effect is an attribute of small populations: (1) it is present in smaller Florida cities but not larger ones and (2) the evidence of a deterrent effect of arrest certainty is stronger in smaller cities and counties than in larger ones. Three other explanations for this finding are considered and research directions specified.

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