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Criminal justice profs earn $1.5 million in federal grants

The National Institute of Justice has awarded grants totaling nearly $1.5 million to a trio of College of Criminal Justice faculty members. The money will support investigations into three areas of crime: dating violence among Latino youth, the prosecution of human-trafficking cases and the impact of incarceration on crime rates.

“This research has the potential to create change that can impact the lives of people across the globe and in our own neighborhoods,” says Jack McDevitt, associate criminal-justice dean for graduate studies and research, and director of Northeastern’s Institute on Race and Justice.

Carlos Cuevas, assistant professor of criminal justice, received a $675,000 grant to lead research on dating violence among Latino youth. Using phone interviews, the researchers will gather data from 1,500 Latinos between the ages of 12 and 18 as well as their caregivers. The scholars seek to gain more information about how this population deals with dating violence, including whether they seek professional help.

“We hope to develop a more culturally-based understanding of dating violence among Latino youth,” says Cuevas.

Amy Farrell, assistant professor of criminal justice and associate director of the Institute on Race and Justice, received $500,000 to study state and local human-trafficking cases.

Since the passage of the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act nine years ago, the number of human-trafficking prosecution cases has risen at the federal level but not at state and local levels. Farrell’s research team will conduct in-depth case reviews to discover what impediments are blocking state and local officials from successfully investigating and prosecuting human-trafficking crimes.

In addition, Farrell says, “we will hopefully learn creative strategies for overcoming these hurdles that can improve the chances that human-trafficking victims will receive justice.”

Natasha Frost, assistant professor of criminal justice, got $298,000 to examine the impact of prison cycling, a term that refers to the incarceration-release-incarceration cycle that can happen many times in the life of just one convicted criminal.

Frost’s study will look at 20 years of data from three New Jersey communities to determine whether prison cycling causes neighborhood instability—on an economic and a social level—leading to increased levels of violence.

“This study will produce the largest community-level dataset on prison removal and returns ever compiled,” says Frost. “If our findings indicate that prison cycling contributes to local crime problems, it may be critical to look at alternative strategies, such as community development or non-institutional responses to crime, to improve public safety.”

The work of these three researchers will be done in collaboration with other scholars. Chiara Sabina, assistant professor of social sciences at Pennsylvania State University, Harrisburg, will work with Cuevas. Northeastern’s McDevitt and Urban Institute expert William Adams will work with Farrell. And Todd Clear, Distinguished Professor of Criminal Justice at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, will work with Frost.

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