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Programs especially strong on penology/prisons?


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Hi,

My research interest is primarily conditions of confinement in prisons and jails, and resulting effects on former prisoners in reentry and their communities. Do any current students or applicants have opinions as to graduate programs that are particularly strong in this area?

I'd be very grateful for any/all opinions....... Thanks!

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  • 5 weeks later...
On 12/7/2012 at 10:44 AM, determined13 said:

Hi,

My research interest is primarily conditions of confinement in prisons and jails, and resulting effects on former prisoners in reentry and their communities. Do any current students or applicants have opinions as to graduate programs that are particularly strong in this area?

I'd be very grateful for any/all opinions....... Thanks!

If you want to really stick to that type of crim -  steer towards the somewhat critical and radical schools. IU - Bloomington, John Jay, and U of South Florida come to mind first. Definitely steer clear of totally conservative and mainstream crim programs (Sam Houston, IUP, etc.). The best thing for you to do is go find books/articles that you like the best, look up that professor and contact them. Don't expect to be accepted with open arms everywhere if you state that as your research interests (especially in Ph.D. programs), because unfortunately a lot of the discipline is not open to much of it. The best of what little advice I can give as a current Ph.D. student in crim would be to find a nice, smaller school where you have more freedom to write what you want and still maintain faculty relationships. Not only will you get more freedom at smaller programs, but it's much easier to stick out as a good student (if you are), and that can result in more opportunity. Good luck!

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Thanks oneam that's valuable advice. (And thanks Wicked previously). Advice like yours does really help as to what schools are conservative or critical.  John Jay is probably - eventually - my ideal school, for a Phd, although I am aiming for a Masters first.

 

It's strange to me that, as you say, "not a lot of the discipline is open to it - meaning conditions of confinement.  I don't doubt that at all, but I don't understand why, nor do I understand the origins of that reluctance in academia.  Prison conditions are/have been at the forefront of criminal justice policy/debate especially in the past decade, and have a lot of relevance to prisoner reentry programming, etc..  Anyway, I appreciate your thoughts; Thanks also for the tip to look at smaller schools. All helpful!

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I was intrigued by the discussion of which programs were conservative and which weren't, so I made some inquiries... IUP's Graduate Program representative, Dr. Jennifer Roberts, offered this in response: "I was actually surprised by the characterization of IUP as "conservative". Historically, we've had a mix of folks who consider themselves to be mainstream or otherwise (e.g., peacemaking, critical, feminist, integral). Our students are encouraged to select dissertation topics that they are passionate about. While we've certainly had students select dissertation topics that very much reflect the mainstream, we've had many other students test ideas that are far from it and/or outside of our discipline. So, I guess I refute the categorization of our program as conservative." Furthermore, they have rolling admissions but funding requires both the application and the assistant ship application be in by March 15th. Food for thought.

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I am considering applying to the program with Mrs. Roberts. I actually spoke with her recently (e-mail). I am going to apply this Summer 2013, I want to start Spring 2014 after I finish my M.A in C J at Rutgers. 

Wicked_Problem what do you think of the program? How hard wold it be to get in if I already meet all the requirements and more?

 

I guess it's like anywhere else - you're going to hear every department tell you that they are well rounded and great at what they do.  

 

When I spoke of "conservative" and "critical" schools, you have to understand that nobody is going to brand themselves one way or another. They want the maximum number of applicants per year, and like used car salespeople, they (and I mean even the best schools) will tell you what you want to hear. The 'pudding', as it were, is in the CV. Nearly every faculty at most universities have CV's available online. Look at them. ALL of them. Do you see any of them publishing in your area? Are they focused on very specific things that fall well outside your thoughts on the discipline (i.e. biosocial, structural, environmental, neo-classical, critical/radical, policing, law etc etc.)? This, and this alone will tell you what the general theme of the department is. Look for commonalities across cv's (they won't be explicit, but you can usually get a sense of the feel of the department). Don't expect to find a place where everyone researches what you like. Then again, make sure there is at least one, but more likely two people that specialize in your area and depending on where you want to work, it's helpful if one of them is somewhat known in your area. 

 

On par with checking faculty in my opinion, is checking up on the current doctoral students. Many of them have their CV's also available online, and if not google/googlescholar them and see what they are doing, if anything. If the students (2nd years and up) aren't publishing, it's probably not a great program to be in, and likely has little in the ways of faculty mentorship.

 

The next step I would recommend is to see what in the sam heck the alumnus of the program are doing. Do a number of them have tenure track positions at universities that you would like to work at (assuming you would want to be faculty)? Are they working as adjuncts or non-tenured faculty at junk universities? What are their salaries (this can be commonly found with google as state university professor's salaries are public knowledge)? Take this information and understand that, for better or worse, this is likely the best indication of your coming future if you attend that program. 

 

I hope that this helps. I had very little of this information going into my program and finding schools, but I had great mentorship and have learned a lot since. Know that I am not putting down any program or university in any of the my above statements - they each have their place and fit for all different types of students. Keep in mind also that the Ph.D. is 100% different than an MA/MS program. You are no longer really a student; you're in training for a job. A very complex, difficult, and self-sufficiency requiring job. Who do you want to train you? Best of luck.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Little research I did on INDIANA UNIVERSITY of PENNSYLVANIA

I looked at IUP staff, 17 Professors

3 Professors. PHD from http://grad-schools.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-graduate-schools/top-humanities-schools/department-of-criminology-and-criminal-justice-163286]University of Maryland--College Park ranked #1

1 Professor PHD from http://grad-schools.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-graduate-schools/top-humanities-schools/division-of-criminal-justice-201885]University of Cincinnati ranked #3

1 Professor PHD from http://grad-schools.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-graduate-schools/top-humanities-schools/school-of-criminal-justice-186399]Rutgers, the State University ranked #4

2 Professors, PHD from University of Nebraska ranked #9

Over 40% of staff come from top 10 schools. Looks like a decent program.

Oneamcofee, would it matter what PHD program I graduate from if I plan on entering home land security/ Non academic?

That's a tough question, but definitely a good one. My girlfriend is getting ready to start her PhD in crim and has no want to be faculty anywhere (she is set on policy research and evaluation stuff). So I have some information, though much is not first hand. In my opinion the name or rank would matter less at that point, and experience would trump everything. If you want to go into research on a specific topic, you will want to try for a university that has a research institute which allows for you to conduct quantitative research in your area. This isn't to say, again, that it has to match exactly your area (though that would be nice), but more that it is the type of research requiring the statistical models you would most commonly be using (i.e. survival analysis, high level multivariate tools, simulation analysis). Aside from that, looking at the curriculum would then be a major factor. Are they a theory or policy based institution (or both)? Do they offer multiple stats courses over the "core" to allow you to increase your specialization? Again, talking to students and looking up alumni would be a major help. Find somewhere you would like to work and email the director. Ask what they are looking for and how to be most competitive upon application.

I'm glad that I was able to offer some advice (and it is just that - one person's advice. It doesn't make it correct for you). I was always wanting some help and guidance outside of faculty when I was applying - and I told myself that if I got in anywhere I would remember to come back here and offer what I could. Best of luck.

Edited by oneamcoffee
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  • 2 weeks later...

That's a tough question, but definitely a good one. My girlfriend is getting ready to start her PhD in crim and has no want to be faculty anywhere (she is set on policy research and evaluation stuff). So I have some information, though much is not first hand. In my opinion the name or rank would matter less at that point, and experience would trump everything. If you want to go into research on a specific topic, you will want to try for a university that has a research institute which allows for you to conduct quantitative research in your area. This isn't to say, again, that it has to match exactly your area (though that would be nice), but more that it is the type of research requiring the statistical models you would most commonly be using (i.e. survival analysis, high level multivariate tools, simulation analysis). Aside from that, looking at the curriculum would then be a major factor. Are they a theory or policy based institution (or both)? Do they offer multiple stats courses over the "core" to allow you to increase your specialization? Again, talking to students and looking up alumni would be a major help. Find somewhere you would like to work and email the director. Ask what they are looking for and how to be most competitive upon application.

I'm glad that I was able to offer some advice (and it is just that - one person's advice. It doesn't make it correct for you). I was always wanting some help and guidance outside of faculty when I was applying - and I told myself that if I got in anywhere I would remember to come back here and offer what I could. Best of luck.

 

I was out of town last week when this information was dropped. But I'm glad I'm reading back. Thanks so much. Great suggestions and unique insight!

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