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Miranda Galvin, CJRC PA Commission on Sentencing Postdoctoral Scholar published in the Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency

Miranda Galvin Postdoctoral Scholar, Criminal Justice Research Center Pennsylvania Commission on Sentencing was recently published in the Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency. Read Dr. Galvin’s article titled “Substance or Semantics? The Consequences of Definitional Ambiguity for White-collar Research” here.

Criminology Forum 11/21 “Connected Communities and Neighborhood Crime: Structural Isolation, Homophily in Inter-neighborhood Commuting Ties, and Network Spillover Effects"

Please join us for the upcoming Criminology Forum on Thursday, November 21 in 102 Burrowes Bldg from Noon - 1:00 PM. Corina Graif, Ph.D. Associate Professor of Sociology and Criminology at Penn State University, University Park will be presenting her research.

This study highlights the need to assess the external dimension of neighborhood isolation, the disconnectedness from other neighborhoods in the city. The study further extends the literature by integrating standard criminological methods with machine learning and computational statistics approaches to investigate the extent to which neighborhood crime depends on the disadvantage of areas connected to it through commuting. The findings suggest that connected communities can influence each other from a distance and that connectivity to less disadvantaged work hubs may decrease local crime−with implications for advancing knowledge on the relational ecology of crime, structural and social isolation, and ecological networks.

Post-doctoral Fellow to Study Electronic Cigarette Epidemic Among Youth

Drs. Jeremy Staff (Criminology and Sociology) and Jennifer Maggs (HDFS) will be recruiting a post-doctoral fellow after being selected as the recipients of the Criminal Justice Research Center (CJRC) post-doc position beginning in fall 2020.  Their research will focus on the key question of whether e-cigarettes now serve as a catalyst to combustible cigarette use among children who historically had a low risk of conventional smoking.  The selected candidate will help them test how pathways of electronic cigarette use in adolescence are related to: 1) early life and concurrent risk factors; ) combustible cigarette use initiation and speed of progression to heavier use; 3) differential vulnerability due to early life risk factors; and 4) other substance use, delinquency, and crime.  The 1-2 years of focused post-doctoral research should help the candidate secure a strong future academic or research position and support an externally funded research portfolio.

Criminology Forum 11/6 “Prior Victimization of Female Inmates in Illinois”

Please join us for the upcoming Criminology Forum on Wednesday, November 6 in 406 Oswald Tower from 3:00 PM- 4:00 PM. Lindsay Bostwick, Ph.D. PA Commission on Sentencing Postdoctoral Scholar will be presenting her research.

Research has shown incarcerated women often have histories of abuse and may be dealing with mental health or substance abuse issues as a result. This study fills a gap in our knowledge about prior abuse by interviewing female inmates in Illinois prisons. Interview questions concentrated on participants' histories of substance abuse, physical abuse, sexual abuse, stalking and emotional trauma, and help seeking strategies related to these issues. Life history calendars were used to record the events over the life course for each woman. The majority of women had experienced some form of physical, emotional, or sexual abuse in their lifetime and the majority reported periods of regular substance use. The majority of women sought help through friends and family rather than through official channels.

"The Race of Defendants and Victims in Pennsylvania Death Penalty Decisions: 2000–2010" published in Justice Quarterly

Jeffery Ulmer, John H. Kramer, and Gary Zajac, Criminal Justice Research Center Managing Director, recently published "The Race of Defendants and Victims in Pennsylvania Death Penalty Decisions: 2000–2010" in Justice Quarterly. The article discusses death penalty decisions in Pennsylvania, “focusing on the role of defendant and victim race: prosecutors’ decisions to seek the death penalty, prosecutors’ decisions to retract death filings, and decisions to sentence defendants to the death penalty.”

"Charting the hidden City: Collecting prison social network data" published in Social Networks

Criminal Justice Research Center Graduate Student Alumni, Corey Whichard, now an Assistant Professor at the School of Criminal Justice, University at Albany, SUNY and colleagues David R. Schaefer, University of California, Irvine, and Derek Kreager, Criminal Justice Research Center Director, recently published "Charting the Hidden City: Collecting Prison Social Network Data" in Social Networks. The article illustrates the process of collecting network data from incarcerated-individuals within the setting of an institution.


Kim Davidson Awarded NIJ Graduate Research Fellowship Program in the Social and Behavioral Sciences

Kim Davidson, PA Commission on Sentencing Graduate Student Assistant, was recently awarded the NIJ Graduate Research Fellowship Program in the Social and Behavioral Sciences for her project “The Experiences of Men with Substance Use Disorders Exiting Prison at the Height of the Opioid Crisis”. The project will follow a sample of men from prison-based drug treatment to their reentry communities. In-depth interviews will shed light on precursors to and situations of relapse and recidivism, the criminalization of traditional recovery, ability to cope with exposure to drugs and users, criminal justice supervision in reentry, and the vast emotional complexities of offender reentry. These men are tasked with maintaining sobriety in communities devastated by the opioid epidemic while simultaneously confronting the amassed complications of offender reentry. Understanding the complexities of these tasks, and the accompanying impediments, enables the reduction of relapse and recidivism through well-informed policymaking.

In addition to rigorous team-based coding of these interviews, partnerships with Pennsylvania Department of Corrections and the Pennsylvania Commission on Sentencing will enable quantitative analysis of three full reentry cohorts in Pennsylvania, each followed for three years post-release. Multiple cohorts will clarify how the shifting landscape of the opioid epidemic has impacted reentry, particularly for individuals with substance use disorders and with opioid use disorders. Congratulations Kim!

Read the Penn State News story

Criminology Forum 10/25 “Lost Childhoods, Poverty, Trauma, and Violent Crime in a Post-Welfare Area”

Please join us for the upcoming Criminology Forum on Friday, October 25 in 302 Pond Lab from 3:00 PM- 4:00 PM.

In this talk, Michaela Soyer focuses on the life-course histories of thirty young men serving time in the Pennsylvania adult prison system for crimes they committed when they were minors. The narratives of these young men, their friends, and relatives reveal the invisible yet deep-seated connection between the childhood traumas they suffered and the violent criminal behavior they committed during adolescence. Soyer connects large-scale social policy decisions and their effects on family dynamics and demonstrates the limits of punitive justice.

Criminology Forum 10/11 “Initiatives and Opportunities in the Criminal Justice Research Center (CJRC) and Master of Public Policy (MPP) Program”

Please join us for the upcoming Criminology Forum on Friday, October 11 in 406 Oswald Tower from 11:00 AM- 12:00 PM.

This information session will overview how the PSU Criminal Justice Research Center and Master in Public Policy program connect to the Department of Sociology and Criminology. Drs. Kreager and Richardson will discuss the missions of the CJRC and MPP and how they intersect with the Department and Criminology program. Particular focus will be on funding and training opportunities aimed at Criminology faculty, post-doctoral scholars, and graduate students. The presentation will conclude with planned directions and initiatives, allowing time for audience questions and suggestions.

Postdoctoral Scholar Alumni Michaela Soyer featured in The Philadelphia Inquirer

Postdoctoral Scholar Alumni Michaela Soyer, now an assistant professor at Hunter College, is featured in The Philadelphia Inquirer for her efforts in calling attention to the abuse at the Glen Mills Schools while conducting research on young adult offenders as a post doc at the center. Read the article here.