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 research programs, both of which are supported by multiple entities, including the College of the Liberal Arts, the Criminal Justice Research Center, and the Population Research Institute at Penn State, and external funding from the National Science Foundation and the National Institute of Justice.
First, I continue to be engaged in a project that explores the substantial long-term contemporary decrease in crime in America and elsewhere. Building on my prior scholarship on this issue, a recent 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 new 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, recently published in Sociological Quarterly, examines whether recent shifts in the spatial clustering of poverty in America are associated with homicide trends. Several extensions of my research on contemporary crime trends are under development.
Second, I am engaged in research that examines how individual citizenship status and language use, community exposure to higher levels of documented and 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.
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