My research and teaching interests fall within the areas of criminology, communities and urban sociology, the sociology of law, and social demography. I am especially interested in assessing temporal and spatial variation in levels of crime, the mobilization of law, and the application of legal sanctions.  I have two active projects that explore these themes, both of which are supported by the Penn State Population Research Institute.

First, I am engaged in a project that explores the substantial long-term contemporary decrease in crime in America and elsewhere.  A paper from the project published in the Annual Review of Criminology takes stock of current knowledge and outlines the most critical needs for future research.  A second paper, forthcoming in Criminology, provides suggestive evidence that the significant reduction in youth offending prevalence in America observed since the early 1990s was significantly associated with a decrease in unstructured socializing and alcohol consumption and, to a lesser extent, with a decrease in youth preferences for risky activities.  A third paper from this project, currently under peer review, examines whether recent shifts in the spatial clustering of poverty in America are associated with homicide trends. 

Second, I am engaged in a project that examines how individual citizenship status and language use, exposure to higher levels of undocumented immigration, and community differences in immigration enforcement policies affect crime victimization risk and decisions to notify the police.  This project is supported by the Penn State Population Research Center, the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Russell Sage Foundation (RSF), and the National Institute of Justice (NIJ).  An initial paper from this project, published in Migration Letters, documented state-level shifts in immigration bills and resolutions during the past few decades.  A second paper, published in the Annual Review of Criminology, delineated how immigration and other factors may impact decisions to report crimes to the police.  A third paper, published in Criminology, examines the nuanced ways in which living in an immigrant neighborhood may reduce exposure to violence.  A fourth paper recently published in Criminology examines the complex association between neighborhood immigrant concentration and crime reporting. Building on these publications, several new papers from the project are in progress, including studies the explore how citizenship status and English language proficiency are associated with victimization risk and how the relative size of the undocumented immigrant population in local communities may impact violence risk among U.S.-born citizens.

Research Interests

Urban, Community and Spatial Sociology; Criminology


  • Ph.D., Sociology, State University of New York at Albany, 1998, Areas of Concentration: Social Deviance and Demography.
  • M.A., Criminology, University of Missouri-St. Louis, 1994
  • B.S., Political Science, Truman State University, 1992