Department of Sociology and Criminal Justice
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The Department of Sociology and Criminal Justice offers graduate and undergraduate programs in sociology, criminology, and the interdisciplinary study of criminal justice. Its faculty and students engage broadly in research on topics such as race and ethnicity, gender, social theory, health care, social welfare, deviance and crime, criminal justice institutions, and law and society.
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- ItemAre LARC Users Less Likely to Use Condoms? An Analysis of U.S. Women Initiating LARC in 2008–2018(Women's Health Issues, 2022-06-21) Eeckhaut, Mieke C. W.; Fitzpatrick, KatieIntroduction: Public health professionals have raised concern that increased use of long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARC) could raise women's risk for sexually transmitted infections (STIs), because LARC's superior pregnancy protection may decrease women's motivation to use a barrier method for supplemental pregnancy prevention. This study uses population-based data to examine whether condom use is lower, particularly among young women who are at increased STI risk, after initiating LARC versus moderately effective methods. Methods: With the 2011–2019 data files of the National Survey of Family Growth, we examine the percent of sexually active months with condom use in the year after LARC or moderately effective method initiation for a nationally representative sample of 2,018 women aged 15–44 years. Multinomial logistic models regressed condom use on method type and age group, as well as their interaction, while adjusting for key confounders. Results: The unadjusted likelihood of any condom use is substantially lower among women who initiated LARC versus moderately effective methods (12% vs. 37%), and this difference is greater among younger versus older women. After accounting for differences in women's reproductive and sociodemographic profiles, however, a statistically significant difference in condom use by method initiated remains only for those aged 20–34 years. Conclusions: Crude estimates suggest that condom use is lower after initiating LARC versus moderately effective methods, especially among young women. After accounting for the confounding effects of LARC users’ distinct profiles—particularly in terms of parity and teenage childbearing—the difference is decreased overall and no longer significant for adolescent women. Overall results indicate a need for new STI prevention strategies and policies that emphasize the importance of dual prevention for LARC users at risk of STIs.
- ItemCOVID-19 and U.S. Disputes Over Authority, 2020–2021: Implications for the Constructionist Analysis of Social Problems(Sociological Forum, 2022-09-25) Best, Joel; Monahan, BrianCOVID-19 is very different from the cases typically studied by constructionist analysts of social problems: it emerged quickly, spread widely, and affected many aspects of social life. As such, it offers important opportunities to reconsider the constructionist model. We focus on three issues—metrics, masks, and vaccines—where COVID-19 disputes about authority led to different alliances among several categories of claimsmakers. Our point is that COVID-19 discourse seems far messier than most of the narratives presented by constructionist analysts, and we identify several lessons from this unusual contemporary case that might help us strengthen existing social problems theory.
- ItemGreening, Revitalization, and Health in South Wilmington, Delaware(Delaware Journal of Public Health, 2022-08) Perez, Victor W.; Swiatek, WilliamWe highlight the potential for paradoxical impacts of green infrastructure integrated with urban redevelopment. Absent directly addressing social inequalities in parallel efforts, green infrastructure may lead to negative health outcomes of disadvantaged residents, including eventual displacement. We present the research literature and reviews on this topic. We next highlight the case of recent in-migration of higher-income Whites and others in South Wilmington, Delaware, spurred on by high-end Riverfront redevelopment at Christina Landing. This migration may obscure how greening efforts—such as a new wetlands park to control area flooding—influence health outcomes in Southbridge, a low-income, African American neighborhood also within South Wilmington. The area’s Census tract boundary, often used in both health and equity assessments, is shared by these distinctive communities. When viewed through the lens of inequality, greening can have multi-faceted impacts that structure health outcomes. We underscore the importance of the mitigation of its potentially harmful effects.
- ItemHalloween Sadism: the evidence(Department of Sociology and Criminal Justice, 2008) Best, Joel
- ItemIdentifying the helpfulness of school climate: Skipping school, cheating on tests, and elements of school climate(Psychology in the Schools, 2022-04-06) Kupchik, Aaron; Highberger, James; Bear, GeorgePrior research demonstrates the importance of school climate in shaping student behavior but tells us less about which aspects of school climate matter. In this paper we consider how distinct elements of school climate relate to skipping school and cheating on tests. Using survey and administrative data from several statewide Delaware sources, we perform a series of random-intercept logistic regression models. We find that students in schools perceived to have a climate with high levels of structure and support are less likely to report cheating on tests. Yet we do not find a robust relationship between most climate measures and skipping school. School climate relates strongly to in-school deviant behavior but much less to school-related deviant behavior occurring outside of schools. By specifying what measures of climate do and do not relate to problematic student behaviors, our results sharpen our understandings of how school climate shapes student behaviors.
- Item‘I’m Gonna Speak for Me’ I-Poems and the Situated Knowledges of Sex Workers(Ethics and Social Welfare, 2022-03-13) Buckridge, Maggie; Lowman, Jules; Leon, Chrysanthi S.In academic and political spaces, as well as in the dominant culture in the United States, sex workers are granted little authority, and their lived experiences are not privileged as a form of valuable knowledge. As feminist scholars, we seek to counter this pattern by highlighting the situated knowledges and agency of sex workers in the United States. To do so, we share the words of sex workers through I-poems. I-poems are a form of poetic inquiry and a method for qualitative research analysis. As a form of found poetry, these poems are constructed using only the words of the participants. Unlike prior scholars, we use focus groups that capture conversation about people involved in street-based sex work rather than individual interviews. By centering the participants’ own words, we hope to moderate our influence as researchers on the presentation of data.
- ItemMaternal stress and social support during Hurricane Florence(Health Care for Women International, 2022-05-26) DeYoung, Sarah E.In theoretical research on disaster vulnerability, access to resources is critical for optimal outcomes. Studying the impact of a hurricane on maternal stress can expand theories of disaster vulnerability. This is a cross-sectional mixed-methods prospective study of maternal stress during Hurricane Florence in the United States. Results from chi-squares compared the proportion of respondents who reported having support for a financial emergency were significant, specifically that higher income respondents indicated the ability to rely on someone in case of an emergency. A regression analysis indicated that social support was significant and negatively related to stress as a dependent variable, while evacuation status and pregnancy status were not significant predictors of stress. Five themes emerged from the overall qualitative data: concerns about infant feeding, evacuation logistics, general stress, family roles, and ‘other’ issues.
- ItemNeighborhoods, Criminal Incidents, Race, and Sentencing: Exploring the Racial and Social Context of Disparities in Incarceration Sentences(The British Journal of Criminology: An International Review of Crime and Society, 2021-06-01) Donnelly, Ellen A.As an extra-legal factor, social context is a key contributor to racial/ethnic disparities in incarceration sentences. Neighborhoods may have important, yet underexplored influences on sentencing. This study evaluates whether the social conditions and racial characteristics of communities where defendants allegedly offend affect Black-White sentencing disparities. Three-level multilevel model results suggest larger Black populations in neighborhoods of criminal incident increase the odds of incarceration and, to a lesser extent, lengthen sentences for all defendants. Offending outside one’s residential community increases the probability and length of a prison sentence. Neighbourhood effects differ by race, however. Unlike Whites, Blacks receive more punitive sentences for committing offences in disadvantaged areas and less proportionally Black communities. Neighbourhoods thus contribute to racial differences in sentencing outcomes.
- ItemOpioid-stimulant trends in overdose toxicology by race, ethnicity, & gender: An analysis in Delaware, 2013–2019(Journal of Ethnicity in Substance Abuse, 2022-08-16) Gray, Andrew C.; Neitzke-Spruill, Logan; Hughes, Cresean; O’Connell, Daniel J.; Anderson, Tammy L.Recent upticks of stimulant presence in overdose deaths suggest the opioid epidemic is morphing, which raises questions about what drugs are involved and who is impacted. We investigate annual and growth rate trends in combined opioid-stimulant overdose toxicology between 2013 and 2019 for White, Black, and Hispanic male and female decedents in Delaware. During these years, toxicology shifted to illegal drugs for all with fentanyl leading the increase and opioid-cocaine combinations rising substantially. While combined opioid-cocaine toxicology grew among Black and Hispanic Delawareans, White males continue to report the highest rates overall. These findings depart from historical patterns and may challenge existing opioid epidemic policies.
- Item“Secondary registrants”: A new conceptualization of the spread of community control(Punishment and Society, 2022-04-14) Leon, Chrysanthi S.; Kilmer, Ashley R.U.S. policies influence worldwide responses to sexual offending and community control. Individuals in the U.S. convicted of sex offenses experience surveillance and control beyond their sentences, including public registries and residency restrictions. While the targets are the convicted individuals, many registrants have romantic partners, children, and other family members also navigating these restrictions. Findings from a qualitative study using written and interview responses from a hard-to-reach group—family members of registrants (n = 58)—reveal legal and extra-legal surveillance and control beyond the intended target. We argue that family members are “secondary registrants” enduring both the reach of sex offense policies into their personal lives and targeted harms because of their relationship with a convicted individual, including vigilantism and a “sex offender surcharge.” Family members engage in advocacy work to ameliorate sex offense restrictions to counteract their own stigmatization and social exclusion. Conceptually, secondary registration captures the unique and expansive reach of policy, state surveillance, and coercion on registrant family members and raises new concerns about spillover harm. Secondary registration demonstrates an understudied example of the neoliberal penal practice of de-centering the state but with the addition of deep stigmatization and the spread of sovereign and vigilante violence onto families.
- Item“Teachers think the kids around here, don't really want to learn”: Street-identified black men and women's attitudes toward teachers and schooling(Sociology Compass, 2022-12-21) Payne, Yasser Arafat; Aviles, Ann M.; Yates, Nefetaria A.This street participatory action research project explored the reflective schooling experiences of street identified Black men and women (ages 18–35) in two small low-income neighborhoods. Secondary analysis of survey (N = 520) and interview (N = 46) data examined: (1) How are attitudes toward schooling and teachers affected by race, gender and age?; and (2) How do students utilize a street-identity as a site of resilience inside schools? Overall, street-identified study participants held positive attitudes toward schooling, but generally performed poorly in schools and had negative experiences with educators. No significance was found as a function of gender and age regarding attitudes toward schooling and attitudes toward teachers. Also, interview results, across gender and age, suggest school-related structural challenges and poor teacher-student relationships contributed to severe conflict between students and teachers; and between students. Interviewees argued some Black students internalized a street identity or became disruptive and even engaged in school violence as a protective mechanism to endure hostile schooling environments. Moreover, Street PAR is discussed as a method and intervention to improve student performance and resolve concerns between students and educators.
- ItemThe Distinct Role of Peers and Supervisors in Shaping Officers’ Just and Unjust Interactions with Citizens(Criminal Justice and Behavior, 2023-03-01) Peacock, Robert P.; Wu, Yuning; Ivković, Sanja Kutnjak; Sun, Ivan; Vinogradac, Marijan; Vinogradac, Valentina PavlovićThis study steps outside the dominant supervisor-centric approach to organizational justice to examine the impact of peer officers on both procedural justice and injustice in officer–citizen interactions. Recent scandals over the failure of officers to not intercede or object to a colleague’s misconduct has led to a growing policy and research interest in peer influence, training, and intervention programs. A structural equation modeling analysis on a cross-national survey of officers decomposed the direct and indirect effects of peer procedural justice (PPJ) on anticipated officer just and unjust interactions with the public. The study’s finding that PPJ has a greater impact than supervisory procedural justice on officer anticipated just and unjust behavior suggests that policing studies should expand the modeling of organizational justice to include the role of interactions with peer officers. The outcome also adds to the nascent research seeking to better understand how peer-level interventions can promote procedurally just policing.
- ItemThreats to Belonging and Health: Understanding the Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic using Decades of Research(Social Issues and Policy Review, 2022-01-17) Jaremka, Lisa M.; Kane, Heidi S.; Bell, Ann V.The COVID-19 pandemic, an external stressor with multiple stressful sequelae, has fundamentally changed people's lives over multiple years. In this article, we first review research demonstrating that the pandemic has negatively impacted people's sense of belonging and health over time. Next, we draw upon decades of theoretical and empirical work demonstrating that threats to belonging and mental health problems are highly interrelated, with increases in the former driving increases in the latter. We then extend this discussion to physical health, drawing upon a wealth of theoretical and empirical work demonstrating that threats to belonging are a risk factor for longer term health problems and premature mortality. We also highlight potential mechanisms linking threats to belonging and health, with a focus on sleep and immune function. Throughout, we review how pre-existing vulnerabilities may moderate these processes. We conclude with empirically supported recommendations for policymakers interested in addressing these issues.