Date of Award

Spring 2019

Degree Type

Masters Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

School

Biological, Environmental, and Earth Sciences

Committee Chair

Dr. David Cochran

Committee Chair School

Biological, Environmental, and Earth Sciences

Committee Member 2

Dr. George Raber

Committee Member 2 School

Biological, Environmental, and Earth Sciences

Committee Member 3

Dr. Joshua Hill

Committee Member 3 School

Criminal Justice, Forensic Science, and Security

Abstract

Hazards research continually examines how specific groups are affected by damaging events and how their unique sociodemographic characteristics contribute to variations in resilience and recovery. Studies have shown that underprivileged communities suffer more adversely and take longer to recover from hazard events. Probationers and parolees are uniquely disadvantaged regarding demographics and economic opportunity, both of which contribute to increased vulnerability and reduced resilience. Numerous legal restrictions and widespread discrimination towards former criminals means offenders are often relegated to underserved, criminogenic neighborhoods. Given such severe social and financial limitations, offenders have little capacity to prepare for or recover from disasters.

The primary objective of this project was to model offender residential patterns and examine the spatial relationship to physically vulnerable areas, local crime patterns, and offender support services in coastal Mississippi. A principal component analysis (PCA) consolidated explanatory measures from the criminology literature into the Social Disorganization Index (SDI). Hazus-MH 4.2.1 determined physical vulnerability for the 100-year return period. The results show that disorganized neighborhoods are not at significant risk from coastal or inland flooding and are moderately at-risk from hurricane winds. Comparison of the SDI to area crime patterns reveal there is a slightly elevated instance of criminal activity in disorganized neighborhoods. Offender support services are available throughout the region, although a lack of public transportation prevents offender access in some of the study area. The results of this study fill a gap in hazards research by investigating a previously overlooked, vulnerable population.

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