Communities in prevention

Members of our faculty long have been involved in efforts to address critical justice issues for communities, families and individuals. Perhaps none of these are more pressing than projects that aim to develop more effective means of reducing crime and violence. These efforts range from studying how communities succeed in increasing social capital and collective efficacy to collaborating with long-term prisoners who are working to reduce what they see as a culture of crime and violence.

Related faculty

  • M. Kay Harris
  • Ralph Taylor

Selected Publications

  • Harris, M. Kay (forthcoming) Legacies from lifers: Empowering peers to transform their lives. Special issue of Contemporary Justice Review on ‘Unorthodox criminologists and their criminologies’.
  • Harris, M. Kay (forthcoming) Identity change through positive peer intervention in prison: The transformation model of the L.I.F.E.R.S., Inc., Public Safety Initiative, in Veysey, B., Christian, J. and Martinez, D. [eds. Identity Transformation: Understanding the Process of Offender Change. Cullompton: Willan.

Norms and networks

The project seeks to understand the composition of Latino youth friendship and peer networks to derive the structural properties that influence the commission of crime and gang behavior. Through social network data collection and analysis, we will elicit information on both individual and group dynamics that contribute to criminal behavior and group-related activity among Latino youth and young adults. Sponsored by OJJDP.

Related faculty

Caterina Gouvis Roman

Selected publications

  • Jeffrey A. Butts and Caterina Gouvis Roman. (Forthcoming Winter 2009). “A Community Youth Development Approach to Gang Control Programs.” In: Youth Gangs and Community Intervention: Research, Practice, and Evidence, edited by Robert Chaskin. New York: Columbia University Press.
  • Caterina Gouvis Roman. 2008. “Common Elements of Anti-Gang Programs.” In Daring To Care: Community-Based Responses to Youth Gang Violence in Central America and Central American Immigrant Communities in the United States, Washington, DC: Washington Office on Latin America.

Jury participation

Jury selection breaks down into three stages: the early stage, concerned with list construction, collating, and updating; the middle stages, between sending out the summons for jury duty and the potential juror appearing for service at the courthouse; and the later stages based on completing the juror questionnaire and voir dire. This project, with funding from a Pennsylvania Supreme Court committee investigating potential racial and ethnic biases in jury selection in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania,investigated connections between juror yield and racial, ethnic, socioeconomic, and stability dimensions of the micro-neighborhood. Yield was defined as the proportion of summoned jurors appearing for service. Analyses of the locations of all summoned jurors in three Pennsylvania counties showed complex, contingent and sometimes unexpected connections between racial and ethnic compositions and potential juror yield. Results for Philadelphia have been published. In a separate but related project, a dissertation used sample survey data from Philadelphia residents to explore the contributions of individual and neighborhood factors to willingness to serve on juries. The project was able to control for attitudinal and experiential factors thought likely to strongly influence willingness to serve on juries.

Related faculty

  • Ralph Taylor
  • Jerry Ratcliffe

Selected publications

  • Taylor, R. B., Ratcliffe, J.H., Dote, L., and Lawton, B. (2007). Roles of neighborhood race and status in the middle stages of juror selection. Journal of Criminal Justice 35 (4) 391-403.
  • Lillian Dote, (2006). “Juror willingness to serve in Pennsylvania.” Doctoral Dissertation. Department of Criminal Justice, Temple University.

Local crime and policy impacts

Recent collaborative projects led by graduate students have examined both the consequences of local crime rates, and efforts to alter them.

Related faculty 

Ralph Taylor

Selected publications

  • Lawton, BA, Taylor, RB, and Luongo, A (2005) Police Officers on Drug Corners in Philadelphia, Drug Crime and Violent Crime: Intended, Diffusion, and Displacement Impacts. Justice Quarterly 22 427-451.
  • Garcia, RM, Taylor, R B, and Lawton, BA (2007) Impacts of violent crime and neighborhood structure on trusting your neighbors. Justice Quarterly 24 (4) 679-704.


The study of how community features link to crime has been a staple of both criminology and urban sociology for almost 200 years. Investigations of the connections to delinquency are close to a 100 years old. The nature of that nexus, however, has changed dramatically in the last two decades given recent developments in the following arenas: increasing attention to spatial patterning within and between neighborhoods; expanded interest in both disorder and responses to crime; and recent concern about the effects of criminal justice operations, including arrest, imprisonment, and release, on fundamental features of community structure and crucial locality-based social and cultural processes.

Other themes:

  • Governance
  • Space and place
  • Social justice
  • Shaping policy
  • Building capacity
  • Innovations