Current Research

Bringing together criminal careers research and sentencing research

Prior criminal history is a primary determinant of the case outcome and the sentence that has multiple dimensions. My research takes stock from research on criminal careers, and examines how the nature of criminal records–recency, frequency, type, etc.–help shaping the sentence.

A study on the role of prior crime seriousness on sentencing outcomes, with Jason Walker

A study on the pattern and measurement of criminal specialization, with Jessica Rosenthal

The pattern and sources of extralegal disparities in the sentence

Despite recent reforms and efforts, extralegal disparities in case outcomes, including but not limited to racial and sexual disparities, remain extant. My research investigates the potential sources of the disparities with a dynamic focus on previously less-studied factors: judges’ beliefs, compliances with sentencing guidelines, and so on.

A study on sexual disparity in the sentence, with Jiaqi Lao

A study on the measurement of the sentence, with Andrea Montes, Marisa Omori, Nick Petersen, and Cassia Spohn

A study on the trend in sentence harshness and extralegal disparities, with Ojmarrh Mitchell and Daniela Oramas Mora

Explaining guilty plea decisions

The overwhelmingly majority of criminal cases end up as guilty pleas, which makes our criminal justice system today “a system of pleas.” My research investigates the conditions and driving factors behind plea bargaining decisions, with a focus on how the prospect of outcomes both inside and outside of the courtroom foster defendants’ willingness to accept plea offers.

An early-stage study on the plea decision for less serious crimes.

The measurement of risk inside and outside of the criminal justice system

Since its inception, the criminal justice system revolves around the idea of personal risk, which is meanwhile notoriously difficult to measure. My research explores effective ways to represent the heterogeneous levels of risk among individuals with modern mixture modeling techniques, and inquires into the social risk factors from an interdisciplinary perspective.

A study on inmates’ classification and post-release outcomes, with Jesenia Pizarro and Kristen Zgoba

A study on family structure and dynamics and youth delinquency, with Brandee Augustine

Studies on patterns and the approval of substance use among youth, with Shiyou Wu and colleagues