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Criminal Justice Research Center Seed Funding Request For Proposals Due October 25

The Criminal Justice Research Center announces our annual seed funding request for proposals. 

Applications will be due on Friday, October 25, 2019, with awards announced in December, 2019. We hope to fund 3-5 proposals, with details outlined in the attached documents.

The CJRC is funded through the College of Liberal Arts and has the primary mission of supporting research in the areas of criminal justice and criminology. We are seeking seed funding proposals for projects in the early stages of development, with priority given to those targeting external funding opportunities and in one or more of the center's current themes:

(1) Courts and Sentencing

(2) Corrections and Community Re-Entry

(3) Treatment and Rehabilitation

(4) Public Safety and Crime Prevention

To see a description of the funding mechanism and proposal requirements click here.

If there are colleagues that you think may be interested, please share this announcement with them.

“Estimated Costs to the Pennsylvania Criminal Justice System Resulting From the Opioid Crisis” published in the American Journal of Managed Care: AJMC

Criminal Justice Research Center researchers recently published an article in the American Journal of Managed Care: AJMC titled “Estimated Costs to the Pennsylvania Criminal Justice System Resulting From the Opioid Crisis.” The article by Gary Zajac, Criminal Justice Research Center (CJRC) Managing Director, Sam Nur, CJRC Research Technologist, Derek Kreager, CJRC Director, and Glenn Sterner, CJRC Faculty Affiliate, discusses how much the opioid crisis is costing the Pennsylvania Criminal Justice System.

Additional press on the article:

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

The Conversation

Share Your Opioid Story Initiative’s Centre County Community Conversation, May 30

Penn State University’s Share Your Opioid Story Initiative ( is hosting a Community Conversation on Thursday, May 30, 2019 from 5:30 – 7:30 pm at Schlow Library. This conversation will highlight how we as a community can work to address the stigma associated with the opioid epidemic. We’ll hear from Trisha Stouch (you can view her story here:, and talk about how she has overcome the stigma of losing her daughter from an opioid overdose. Throughout this conversation we will engage the audience to explore how each of us can dispel the myths of stigma associated with substance use disorders, while supporting those who are seeking recovery or working through grief. This event is being held in conjunction with the Pennsylvania Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs.    

Dr. Glenn Sterner receives Penn State Community Engagement and Scholarship Award

Glenn Sterner, Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice at Penn State Abington and recent Criminal Justice Center Postdoctoral Scholar Alumni received the Penn State Community Engagement and Scholarship Award. Dr. Sterner received this award for the Share Your Opioid Story initiative which works to address stigma in partnership with the Independence Blue Cross Foundation and The Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs. The Penn State Community Engagement and Scholarship Award recognizes an outstanding engaged scholarship initiative that best exemplifies Penn State’s commitment to the ideal of an engaged institution-an institution that has redesigned its learning, discovery, and engagement functions to become even more involved with its communities through reciprocity and mutual respect among partners. This award is endorsed by the Provost and supported by the University Council on Engaged Scholarship and the Faculty Senate Committee on Outreach. Dr. Sterner received this award on April 2, at the Faculty/Staff Awards Recognition ceremony at the Nittany Lion Inn. Upon receiving this award, The Share Your Opioid Story outreach project is entered into a pool of national outreach projects to be considered for further recognition. 

Outreach Awards

From left to right: Taylor Miller, Madison Miller, Gary Zajac, Criminal Justice Research Center Managing Director, Glenn Sterner, Assistant Professor PSU Abington, Criminal Justice Research Center Postdoctoral Scholar Alumni, Jen Smith, Secretary of the Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs, Madeline Richard, Erin Bergner

Serial Podcast's year inside the courthouse: A conversation about criminal justice with Sarah Koenig, March 29

Season 3 of the Serial podcast tells the story of the Cleveland courthouse and the people working in its courtrooms, back hallways, judges’ chambers, and prosecutors’ offices. McCourtney Institute for Democracy Director Michael Berkman will talk with Koenig about what she learned while making the podcast.

The Criminal Justice Research Center and The Rock Ethics Institute are co-sponsoring the event.

Event: Rock Ethics Institute 2019 Lippin Lecture, March 20th

Event: Rock Ethics Institute 2019 Lippin Lecture, March 20th

Stevenson Flier

On March 20, 2019 at 7:00 p.m. in the Eisenhower Auditorium, Bryan Stevenson will be presenting for the Rock Ethics Institute 2019 Richard B. Lippin Lecture.

Stevenson is the founder of the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI) and author of the New York Times bestseller Just Mercy.

Under Stevenson's leadership, the EJI has won significant legal challenges eliminating excessive and unfair sentencing, exonerating innocent death row prisoners, confronting the abuse of the incarcerated and the mentally ill, and aiding children prosecuted as adults. The EJI recently opened a national memorial to victims of lynching, as well as a companion museum on the site of a former slave warehouse in Montgomery, Alabama.

Stevenson's lecture will explore what justice demands, both inside and outside the courtroom, and the need to address the legacy of racial violence and oppression in the United States.

A book signing will follow the lecture. The event will be free and open to the public. Tickets will become available in the spring semester.

Criminology Forum 10/23, “Murder Case Processing and the Death Penalty in PA: 2000-2010”

Please join us for the upcoming Criminology Forum on October 23, 4:00- 5:00 p.m. in 302 Pond Lab.

Dr. Jeffery Ulmer, Professor of Sociology and Criminology Penn State, Associate Department Head and Dr. Gary Zajac, Managing Director Criminal Justice Research Center, Penn State, will be presenting "“Murder Case Processing and the Death Penalty in PA: 2000-2010.” The death penalty and murder sentencing are the most consequential punishment decisions in U.S. society. There has been long-standing concern about disparity in these decisions, most prominently, disparity based on the race/ethnicity and gender of defendants and victims, as well as concern about differences in case outcomes related to legal representation, and differences between court jurisdictions. We examine murder case processing with a focus on decisions surrounding the death penalty in first degree murders. We collected basic statistical data on 4,274 cases charged with homicide in Pennsylvania from 2000 to 2010, and then collected highly detailed data from courts and prosecutors’ offices on a subset of 880 first degree murder convictions in 18 of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties. Utilizing propensity score weighting methods, we examined: 1) prosecutors’ decisions to seek the death penalty, 2)prosecutors’ decisions to retract a motion to seek the death penalty once it is filed, and 3) court decisions to sentence defendants to death or life without parole. We conclude by describing our extension of this research to include non-capital murders and earlier case processing decisions by prosecutors. This lecture is co-sponsored by the Criminal Justice Research Center and the Department of Sociology and Criminology.

Criminology Forum 10/12, "Decision-Making and Desistance: The Relative Importance of Changing Expectations and Changing Preferences"

Please join us for the upcoming Criminology Forum on October 12th, 2:00- 3:00 pm in 406 Oswald Tower.

Dr. Kyle Thomas will be presenting on "Decision-Making and Desistance: The Relative Importance of Changing Expectations and Changing Preferences." An Assistant Professor at the University of Missouri- St. Louis, Dr. Thomas applies a rational choice framework to the decision-making processes underpinning criminal desistance. First, he examines if subjective expectations of offending are age-graded, such that perceptions of rewards decrease, and perceptions of risks/costs increase over age. Second, he tests if the latent marginal (dis)utilities that derive from these expectations (e.g., preferences for risk, costs, and rewards) are age-graded in ways that promote declines in offending. He presents results from a study that uses a decomposition model to partition differences in offending from adolescence to young adulthood that are attributable to changing subjective expectations (E) and changing marginal utilities (β) among a subset of the Pathways to Desistance sample (N = 585). He then introduces a discrete choice random utility model to estimate between- and within-person differences in preferences and demonstrates how the model can be used to examine predictions outlined in prominent theories of desistance.

Pathways to Pardons Event October 10/25

Pathways to Pardon Image

This presentation will focus on the composition and purpose of the PA Board of Pardons and detail the pardoning process within the state. It will be highly relevant to criminal justice courses and students. To RSVP for the afternoon session at the HUB, contact Rebecca Reitz, MS at the Criminal Justice Research Center (814) 867-3291.

Criminal Justice Research Center Postdoctoral Scholar Receives Outstanding Postdoc Award

The Criminal Justice Research Center congratulates our recent post-doctoral scholar Glenn Sterner (now an Assistant Professor at PSU Abington) on receiving the Penn State Postdoc Society 2018 Outstanding Postdoc Award.   Glenn is being recognized for his remarkable contributions to research during his very productive tenure with the Center.  Glenn received his award at the Society’s 11th Annual Postdoc Research Exhibition at the HUB on September 28.   We’re proud of you Glenn on this well-deserved honor!