I am currently a Ph.D. Candidate in the School of Criminal Justice at the University at Albany, SUNY. I received my Master’s degree in Criminal Justice from the University at Albany, SUNY and my Bachelor’s degree in Criminology, Law and Society from the University of California, Irvine. Before graduate school, I worked as a research analyst for Control Risks, a securities and investigations firm. Prior to that, I worked as a research assistant for Hennington and Associates, a trial and jury consultation firm.
My research interests focus on access to justice and lie at the intersection of psychology and the law surrounding criminal justice decision-making policies and practices. Broadly, my research concerns issues surrounding Plea bargaining, Indigent defense, Court and legal reform, Juvenile justice, Program implementation and evaluation, and Research methodologies.
Currently, I am a Senior Research Associate and Research Assistant Supervisor for the Counsel at First Appearance (CAFA) Project, which is funded by a grant awarded by the National Institute of Justice (Award NIJ2014-IJ-CX-0027): “Early Intervention by Counsel: A Multi-Site Evaluation of Counsel at First Appearance” (PI: Dr. Alissa Pollitz Worden, University at Albany, SUNY; Co-PI: Dr. Andrew L.B. Davies, NYS Office of Indigent Legal Services). This project examines the implementation of individualized CAFA programs in six upstate NY counties, which include rural and urban jurisdictions, and assesses the impact of CAFA on direct and indirect legal and extralegal outcomes.
I am also a Research Analyst for the John F. Finn Institute for Public Safety, Inc. (Director: Dr. Robert E. Worden; Associate Director: Dr. Sarah J. McLean), where I conduct research analysis and consultation for three separate projects: (1) a family court needs assessment and feasibility evaluation study, funded through a New York state-level grant, uses focus groups, court observations, surveys, interviews, and legal research to understand the needs of assigned counsel providers (attorneys, staff, and administrator) and indigent defendants when representing them in family court (Project Supervisor: Dr. Alissa Pollitz Worden); (2) the Police Interactions with Victims of Violence project, funded by NIJ, analyzes the nature of police-victim and police-citizen interactions by coding incident characteristics and citizen roles, including the behaviors of officers and victims in a sample of incidents based on in-car, dash cam recordings (Project Supervisors: Dr. Robert E. Worden, Dr. Sarah J. McLean, and Ms. Danielle L. Reynolds); and (3) the Supervisory Coaching of Law Enforcement project, supported by a grant awarded from the Laura and John Arnold Foundation, examines the potential of body-worn cameras to enhance the performance of the supervisory role. This project uses body-worn camera recordings to conduct systematic social observation coding of police-citizen interactions (Project Supervisors: Dr. Robert E. Worden, Dr. Sarah J. McLean, and Ms. Danielle L. Reynolds).
Prior to joining the CAFA Project in Spring 2015, I was the Research Lab Project Director for the Modeling Decision-Making in the Legal System (MoDiLS) Lab (Lab Director: Dr. Allison D. Redlich), and was responsible for managing the MoDiLS Labs’ ongoing research projects and research assistants. I was also the Graduate Research Assistant for Dr. Allison D. Redlich’s NSF-funded experimental research project “Creating and Transferring Knowledge on Guilty Pleas,” the second phase of which examines juvenile and young adult plea decision-making. After data collection for that project was completed, I worked as the Graduate Research Assistant for the NSF-funded Research Coordination Network (RCN) on Understanding Guilty Pleas (PI: Dr. Shawn D. Bushway; Co-PIs: Dr. Allison D. Redlich, Dr. Brian D. Johnson, and Dr. Anne M. Piehl). The explicit goal of this RCN is to foster new research on the process that generates guilty pleas and is organized around three research cores: the prosecutorial decision-making core (by modeling the process that generates plea bargains), the defense decision-making core (to understand the defendant’s and defense attorney’s role), and the workgroup decision-making core (by modelling organizational influences).
My dissertation research examines plea decision-making through semi-structured interviews with defendants, defense attorneys, and prosecutors to investigate how defendants perceive and understand the choices and imperatives with which they are faced as they navigate the legal system. Specifically, the focus of this research is to triangulate and examine the factors affecting, and rationales underlying, the plea decision from the points of view of the defendant, defender, and prosecutor. The National Science Foundation (NSF) awarded this dissertation a Doctoral Dissertation Research Improvement Grant (DDRIG) (Award #1625527).
For a copy of my CV, click here.
And personally? Well, I’m a hiking and photography novice, travel and architecture enthusiast, yoga and music habitue, coffee and science fiction addict, cooking Macgyver, and neighbor to a family of four very silly deer and a forest full of (avocado-loving, northeast-hipster) squirrels.
If you do the Twitter thing, here’s mine: @CJSresearcher