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Criminal Justice and Criminology News

Woman seeks to open transitional home for rehabilitating ex-inmates

Wednesday, July 2, 2014
Zachary Hamilton

Zachary Hamilton

Dorothy Owsley spent years visiting jails and prisons to help inmates figure out their plans for re-entry into the community, and she frequently heard the same story.

“I heard a lot of ‘I don’t know what to do. I don’t have anywhere to go. Where I lived before got me in trouble in the first place,’ ” said Owsley, 62.

That’s why Owsley said transitional homes play an important role in breaking a cycle that can end with those inmates back behind bars. She’s planning to turn a brick house in Roanoke, Va., into a transitional home for about eight area women released from jail or prison.

Zachary Hamilton, an assistant professor of criminal justice and criminology and an expert in offender re-entry and rehabilitation, said research is mixed regarding the effectiveness of transitional facilities. He said that places focusing on a specific goal, such as addiction recovery or employment, tend to show more positive results. His own research has shown that a structured environment coupled with parole conditions results in fewer parole violations.

More about the planned home and Hamilton’s research

Oakland, Calif., police enduring unprecedented overtime stretch

Tuesday, May 13, 2014
Bryan Vila

Bryan Vila

Without enough officers to respond to 911 calls and patrol streets, Oakland, Calif., has required police to work extra patrol shifts for the past 18 months—a duration that law enforcement experts say appears unprecedented and could threaten public safety.

The mandatory overtime requirement began in October 2012 and isn’t scheduled to end until next March when the department anticipates finally having enough officers to adequately staff the patrol division.

But mandatory overtime is typically reserved for disasters or short-term operations, said Bryan Vila, a WSU professor of criminal justice and criminology and former Los Angeles sheriff’s deputy who authored the book Tired Cops: The Importance of Managing Police Fatigue.

“I’ve never heard of mandatory overtime being used for longer than a year or so and even that is very long,” Vila said.

Too much overtime, especially in Oakland where police face the highest volume of 911 calls in the state, could leave officers fatigued, over-stressed and mistake prone, Vila said. “Your risk of critical incidents and vehicle crashes goes up,” he said. “Those cost a lot of money and so do the civil suits every time a police officer makes a mistake that is avoidable.”

Read more about police overtime

WSU professor to head Spokane criminal justice reform efforts

Monday, April 21, 2014
Jacque Van Wormer

Jacque van Wormer

Spokane County and city officials intend to hire Jacque van Wormer, assistant professor of criminal justice and criminology, to lead the initial implementation of criminal justice reforms recommended by a blue-ribbon panel last winter.

Van Wormer is expected to be hired under a $26,000, yearlong contract to serve as project manager for instituting recommendations in the 60-page report by the three-member panel. She said her work in recent years has revolved around reform efforts in other states, and said she is eager to help Spokane implement changes.

Those changes could reduce the high cost of criminal justice, at the same time providing offenders with tools to turn their lives around.

Van Wormer has master’s and doctoral degrees in criminal justice from WSU. She also has experience working in the field before joining academia.

More about the reform project plan

Three CAS grad students earn top AFW awards

Wednesday, April 9, 2014
Amber Morczek

Amber Morczek

Amanda Vander Woude

Amanda Vander Woude, right, with Sheila Converse, AFW president and music faculty member

Ellen Preece

Ellen Preece

Graduate and doctoral students in the College of Arts and Sciences won three of six annual awards presented last week by the WSU Association for Faculty Women. AFW’s top honors recognize students whose work benefits the community.

Ellen Preece, a doctoral student in the School of the Environment, won a Harriett B. Rigas Award. Elected president of the Washington State Lake Protection Association, at WSU Preece researches food and water safety issues.

Amanda Vander Woude, a graduate student in vocal performance, won an AFW Founders Award. Vander Woude studies the vocal injuries of professional singers, gives voice lessons to WSU undergraduates, and performs in various ensembles.

Amber Morczek, a doctoral candidate in criminal justice and criminology, received the Karen Depaul Leadership Award. Morczek has participated in violence-prevention programs, including the Prisoner Debate Project, which took WSU undergraduates to the Coyote Ridge Correctional Facility to collaborate with inmates during public debates in the facility about topics in criminal justice.

More about the 2014 AFW awards

People behind bars: shifting paradigms of American inmates

Thursday, March 6, 2014
Faith Lutze

Faith Lutze

Perceptions change, but the American prison system continues to falter, a WSU professor said.

Faith E. Lutze, an associate professor in the department of criminal justice and criminology, spoke as part of the Common Reading lecture series. The title of Lutze’s lecture was “Perceptions of Justice: The Power of Prisons to Right a Wrong.”

“Sixty percent of our offenders will fail within three years of release,” she said. “So we might be doing something wrong.”

Lutze has researched prison life for about 25 years since she took a tour of Jackson Prison in southern Michigan. She said an experience there drastically changed her perception of the criminal justice system.

Read more about righting wrongs in America

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