Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Public Affairs and Administration

First Advisor

Dr. Robert Peters

Second Advisor

Dr. L. Robert McConnell

Third Advisor

Dr. Lori Post

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Laurence Rosen


Elderly persons in long-term care settings are exceptionally vulnerable to abuse, neglect, and exploitation necessitating special protective measures by criminal justice, social services, and health care agencies. In 2006, 28.6% of Michigan households with a family member in long-term care reported that person having experienced one or more forms of abuse including physical, caretaking, verbal, emotional, neglect, sexual, and exploitation (Post, 2006). Criminal justice agencies were scrambling to identify programs aimed at reducing elder abuse in long-term care. Michigan was selected as one of seven states designated as a federal pilot test site. As a result, the Michigan Background Check Program (MBCP), a comprehensive background checks system built on neo-nascent technology (informatics and networked data collection systems and repositories), promised to reduce crime by eliminating the opportunity for individuals with criminal and abusive histories.

Felson and Clarke (1998) argue that no crime can occur without the physical opportunity to carry it out. Thus, reducing crime opportunities will produce a positive change in criminal outcomes. The MBCP is an excellent example of an opportunity-reduction program that eliminates the capacity and access of inappropriate individuals to vulnerable individuals in long-term care settings.

To date, no research efforts have focused on the Crime Opportunity Theory and the benefit-cost savings gained from the reduction of those opportunities to protect vulnerable populations. The MBCP was effective in preventing crime opportunities and provided a positive benefits-cost savings of $204,271,800, which exceeded the total program costs of $3,689,908. This research shows how a modest reduction in crime can generate substantial economic benefits.

Findings from this research will assist in aiding federal and state policymakers in the development of better background investigation techniques for hiring practices in long-term care settings, as well as any settings that provide direct access to vulnerable populations. This research adds a foundation for continued research into patient safety and background check techniques.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access