The Effects of Post-Release Community Supervision Reform (with Amy E. Lerman, William Morrison, and John Wieselthier) in Journal of Experimental Criminology (2022).
We test the effects of random assignment to a collaborative model of post-release community supervision (PRCS), which emphasizes release planning, prioritizes the officer-client relationship, and invites the client to actively participate in their re-entry process. We find that clients assigned to the collaborative model are 17 percentage points (p < 0.01) more likely than the control group to report to their first probation meeting within the required 48 hours following release. In the longer-term, we find that intervention clients are 14 percentage points (p < 0.05) less likely to have their probation revoked during the year following release, relative to those assigned to the traditional probation model. Results demonstrate that a collaborative model of post-release community supervision holds promise for helping high-risk clients successfully complete their supervision term.
Transformational Learning and Identity Shift: Evidence from a Campus Behind Bars (with Amy E. Lerman (in Punishment and Society (2022).
Identity-driven theories of desistance provide a useful model for understanding change in a carceral context. However, these theories often are not grounded in specific programs or practices that might catalyze identity shift, and tend to focus narrowly on recidivism as the sole outcome of interest. In this study we examine the role of prison higher education in identity-driven change through the process of transformative learning. Using administrative information on college-level course completion and an original longitudinal survey of prison college students, we show evidence of both between- and within-subjects shifts in individuals’ sense of self-efficacy, as well as their broader civic orientation. We further explore the role of identity using a survey experiment that randomly assigns individuals to a “student” versus “prisoner” identity label. We find that identity labeling has significant effects on both confidence in accomplishing one’s goals and perceived likelihood of recidivism. We supplement these quantitative findings with qualitative interviews of prison college alumni. Our study suggests that access to higher education can be consequential for those in prison, and provides a broader framework through which to analyze the effects of prison programming that extends beyond recidivism.
Prisons and Mental Health: Violence, Organizational Support, and the Effects of Correctional Work (with Amy E. Lerman and Jessie Harney) in Criminal Justice and Behavior (2021)
Correctional workers have a high likelihood of exposure to violence in the workplace. However, empirical literature has largely neglected the mental health consequences of prison work, as well as the institutional factors that might mitigate or exacerbate these effects. To fill this gap, we employ original survey data on thousands of correctional officers and explore the effects of exposure to violence on the job. We find strong associations with symptoms of PTSD, suicide risk, and symptoms of depression, alcohol abuse, anxiety, and sleep disorder. Importantly, we also find a potentially protective role of institutional factors, such as the quality of perceived supervisory support. In line with the Perceived Organizational Support (POS) model, our findings make clear that organizational support can moderate the deleterious effects of prison work.
“The Effect of Park Renovation on Civic Trust: A Survey Experimental Approach" (with Alan Potter) in The Journal of Urban Design (2018)
While urban planners often cite public park revitalization as a means of improving community civic trust, there is limited research that verifies this practice. To address this gap, this study utilizes a survey experiment with Miami-Dade County residents living near a park undergoing renovation. The study finds that informing people about the renovation can increase civic trust relative to not informing them. The benefits of this research are twofold: the survey experiment methodology serves as a cost- effective means of comparing design elements while the findings confirm and extend conventional wisdom regarding the effect of park revitalization on civic trust.
Political Partisanship and Policy Uptake: Field Experimental Evidence from Obamacare” (with Amy E. Lerman and Samuel Trachtman) in American Political Science Review (2017)
In this study, we examine the case of the Affordable Care Act to illustrate that policy uptake is not just about considerations like information and incentives; it is also about political ideology. Using descriptive data, we find that Republicans are much less likely than Democrats to have purchased health insurance through either a state or federal insurance exchange, all else equal. However, we also find evidence that uptake can be increased through policy framing. Employing a large-scale field experiment, we show that emphasizing the role of private industry (as opposed to the role of government) can significantly increase enrollment among Republicans. Our findings make clear that policy uptake is an important form of political behavior, which has direct implications for individual outcomes.
“They’re Not Worthy: The Perceived Deservingness of the Rich and Its Connection to Redistributive Policy Preferences” for inclusion in The Social Legitimacy of Targeted Welfare: New Perspectives on Popular Welfare Deservingness Opinion (2017)
The "Mill Worker's Son" Heuristic: How Voters Perceive Politicians from Working-class Families—and How They Really Behave in Office with Nick Carnes in Journal of Politics (2015).
Politicians often highlight how hard their families had it when they were growing up, presumably in the hopes that voters will see them as more supportive of policies that benefit middle- and working-class Americans. What do voters actually infer about a candidate’s policy positions from how a candidate was raised? And what should they infer? Using both experimental data and data on lawmakers' roll call behavior, we find that although voters consistently infer that politicians from less privileged families are more economically progressive, those politicians don’t actually stand out on standard measures of legislative voting.
Media: The New York Times, Pacific Standard, The Week, and DecodeDC
Stereotyping or Projection? How White and Black Voters Estimate Candidates' Ideology with Amy E. Lerman in Political Psychology (2014).
In studying the electoral fortunes of black candidates, scholars have almost exclusively focused on white voters' attitudes. In this paper, we employ a set of randomized experiments and nationally representative survey data to examine how both black and white voters evaluate the ideology of racially diverse candidates. In contrast to previous research, we find mixed and inconsistent evidence that white voters stereotype black candidates as being more liberal than white candidates. However, we find that black voters—particularly those who identify as politically conservative—project their own ideology onto black candidates.
Ideological Variation in the Effects of Skin Color on Candidate Evaluations with Amy E. Lerman and Katie McCabe forthcoming in Public Opinion Quarterly (2015).
We detail a set of randomized experiments that examine the role of political ideology in shaping black voters’ evaluations of political candidates’ race and skin tone. Our findings challenge simplistic notions of black preference for descriptive representation. Instead, we argue that race matters to how black Americans evaluate candidates for political office, but that it does so in combination with both candidates’ skin tone and voters’ ideology.
Assembly: Civic Design Guidelines with The Center for Active Design (2018)
The Assembly Guidelines capture the culmination of four years of research and collaboration—with input from 200+ studies, 50+ cities, and dozens of expert advisors—to provide evidence-based design and maintenance strategies for creating cities where people trust each other, have confidence in local institutions, and actively work together to address local priorities.
"If You Build It, They Might Not Come: Animating City Spaces" in CityLab (2018)
Why do revamped areas remain barren after so much thought and money are put into redesigning them? A study in Charlotte, North Carolina, offers clues.