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Penn State Justice Center for Research, The Pennsylvania State University
The Penn State Justice Center for Research (, a collaborative effort of Penn State’s College of the Liberal Arts and University Outreach, was designed to bridge the gap between the University and the world outside. The Center pursues a rigorous social science-oriented research agenda that advances criminological theory, contributes meaningfully to justice-related research domains, and addresses substantive policy issues. Using an engaged university model, the Center translates this knowledge into the development of effective evidence-based programs and best practices, and transfers this knowledge base from the University to local, state, national, and international communities. In assisting these communities in these above ways as well as by (a) identifying issues and problems where University expertise could be of assistance; (b) communicating justice research results and theory; and (c) enhancing the rigor of public debate through presentations, panels, and publications, the Center fulfills the University missions of teaching, research, and service.

Our numerous funded projects cut across a variety of criminal justice domains, including corrections, courts, sentencing, policing and crime trends. These projects take place in the context of partnership with criminal justice agencies, where we work together to answer questions of practical and scholarly interest. As such, the Justice Center is making important contributions to the body of evidence regarding “what works” in all areas of criminal justice practice and in promoting informed dialogue on criminal justice policy at the local, state and national levels.

Faculty Members
Rose Baker; management techniques and statistical applications for operations improvement, economic analysis, occupational forecasting, evaluation of training outcomes

Matthew DeMichele; risk assessment, recidivism, incarceration

Ian Elliott; treatment for pedophiles, pedophilia, sex offender assessment, internet pedophilia

Richard Felson; social psychology of violence, race differences in violence

Julie Horney; situational aspects of crime and violence, individual patterns of criminal and violent behavior

John Kramer; decision making in the courts

Derek Kreager; life course, crime and delinquency, romantic and peer networks

Doris MacKenzie; corrections, evidence-based corrections, experimental design, boot camps, reentry, offender education, correctional programs, juvenile justice

Wayne Osgood; generality of deviance, criminal careers, peer influence, juvenile offenders

Deirdre O’Sullivan; developmental work personality, stigma reduction strategies for persons with psychiatric disabilities and addiction

Eric Silver; sociology of deviance, social control, morality

Jeremy Staff; criminology, life course studies, stratification

Kate Staley; family violence and child maltreatment, developmental psychology

Darrell Steffensmeier; criminal behaviors, responses to crime

Jeffery Ulmer; sentencing and the social organization of federal courts, criminological theory, religion and delinquency

Gary Zajac; corrections, probation and parole, process and outcome evaluation, program implementation, rural criminal justice, reentry, evidence based practice

Contact Info
Primary Contact: Doris MacKenzie; Justice Center Director
Justice Center for Research
The Pennsylvania State University
327 Pond Building
University Park, PA 16802
Phone: 814-867-3292
Website Address:

Center/Researcher Information
  • Number of Faculty: 15
  • Certified in Human Subjects Training (e.g., citi tran): Yes
  • Justice Agencies likely to collaborate with:
    Federal, state, local, non-profit

  • Type of Outreach/Activities Engages In:
    Conferences, newsletters, publications, presentations, lecture series, research partnerships, advice/consultation to criminal justice agencies

  • Grant Writing Expertise: Yes

  • Past sources of research funding:
    NIJ, Center for Rural PA, PA Department of Corrections, PA Commission on Sentencing, Foundations, State Department, PA Commission on Crime and Delinquency, State of Indiana, NIDA, PA Supreme Court

  • Current Projects:
    Honest Opportunity Probation with Enforcement (HOPE); Circles of Support and Accountability (COSA) Sex Offender Reentry program evaluation; Monitoring Sex Offenders’ Use of the Internet; Sentencing Risk Assessment; Rural Reentry; Disparity in Death Penalty Sentencing; Indiana Probation Officer Workload Evaluation; Desistance from Crime Over the Life Course; Preventable Precursors of Adult Crime; Examining the Effectiveness of Correctional Interventions; Drug Treatment in China; Parole Officer Attitudes towards Mental Disorder; Police Training; Situational Factors and the Victim-Offender Overlap; Co-Occurring Disorder Treatment for Female Offenders; Improving the PA Youth Survey; Criminal Justice Substance Abuse Treatment Studies (CJDATS); A Comparative Analysis of Mental Health Facilities, Asylums and Prisons; Grooming Strategies; Child Self-Report Sexual Abuse Survey Analyses; Marcellus Shale Drilling Activity and Crime; Intermediate Punishment Project

  • References:
    See faculty affiliate’s website for current CV’s.

  • Organizational policies on the use of collected data:
    Standard IRB procedures through the University.

  • Organizational policies on publications:
    We retain the right to publish our research.

  • Number of Graduate Research Assistants: 2
  • Number of Administrative Assistants and Staff: 3
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