Current Projects and Activities

Technical Assistance and Support for Illinois Counties’ Criminal Justice Coordinating Councils

Loyola’s Center for Criminal Justice (CCJ) is teaming up with the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority (ICJIA), the National Governor’s Association (NGA) and the National Criminal Justice Association (NCJA) to provide research support to county-based Criminal Justice Coordinating Councils in selected jurisdictions. Supported by the MacArthur Foundation, this project emerged from recommendations made by the Illinois Governor’s Commission on Criminal Justice and Sentencing Reform to support local criminal justice strategic planning efforts with research and technical assistance. CCJ support focuses on helping local jurisdictions access, understand, and use systems levels data for their strategic planning and systems improvement efforts. This research involves the following Center faculty, staff, and students: David Olson, Donald Stemen, Lisa Jacobs, Diane Geraghty, Claire Fischer and John Specker.

The Center's Criminal Justice Coordinating Council Project is focused on helping Illinois counties understand and use data regarding their county's use of criminal justice systems, in particular prison usage. This support will help Illinois counties strategically plan and use data to evaluate their progress toward efficient and effective use of their criminal justice system.

Gangs, guns and drugs projects

Center staff along with students are examining the extent and nature of gun violence and gun crime in and across Chicago neighborhoods, including reported violent crimes involving firearms, arrests for these offenses, arrests for unlawful use of weapon, and the sentencing of those charged with gun offenses in Cook County. This research is being performed as part of the students’ enrollment in the Guns and Crime class. David Olson is leading the process, with graduate students John Specker and Jarek Neczypor conducting analyses. The students’ preliminary analyses examining trends in gun crime in Chicago and across Chicago neighborhoods was presented to faculty, students and external partners.

Sentencing Research in Illinois

A group of graduate students and Center staff, in partnership with staff from the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority (ICJIA), is conducting research to design and test methodologies for analyzing the extensive array of data maintained by the ICJIA in ways that provide state and local jurisdictions with an improved understanding of the individual- and community-level characteristics that influence sentencing decisions and prison utilization. This research is supported through a grant from the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority and will be finalized in Summer 2017. This project involves Center faculty and staff, including: David Olson, Donald Stemen and Phil Whittington. See the link below for some of the preliminary analyses examining patterns in prison utilization across Illinois’ counties that was presented at the American Society of Criminology Annual Conference and also to the National Governor’s Association and the National Criminal Justice Association.

Evaluation of TASC’s Winner’s Circle Program

A group of graduate students and Center staff, in partnership with Illinois’ Treatment Alternatives for Safe Communities (TASC), is conducting a process evaluation of TASC’s Winner’s Circle. Winners’ Circles are peer support groups for men and women who have previously been under the custody of the criminal justice system—either in prison or on probation—and are in recovery from addiction and in the process of restoring their citizenship. The process evaluation seeks to document the degree to which the program is adhering to its operational design, and also gauging the program’s strengths and opportunities for improvement from the perspective of program participants and program volunteers. David Olson and Don Stemen lead the project, with two graduate students in Loyola’s School of Social Work, Jamey Arnold and Chelsea Wahl, providing support. This research is supported through a grant from the Field Foundation through TASC, and is scheduled to be completed in Summer 2017.

Female inmate project

Interested in conducting research to better understand the incarceration of women in prison in Illinois? The Center for Criminal Justice is offering a unique class that will involve a comprehensive examination of women in prison in Illinois to support the Illinois Department of Corrections’ Women’s Division in its strategic planning efforts.  For more information or to apply, see:

Rockford Illinois’ Focused Deterrence project

Loyola’s Center for Criminal Justice is collaborating with Loyola’s Center for Urban Research and Learning (CURL) and a number of criminal justice and social service agencies in the City of Rockford/Winnebago County to conduct research and survey the community to assist in the development of a focused deterrence project. The project, once implemented, will identify individuals at high risk for violence, particularly gun violence, provide them with access to services to reduce their involvement in crime, and respond to violations of their supervision with swift, certain and fair sanctions. David Olson and Donald Stemen are partnering with Christopher Donner, an Assistant Professor in the Department of criminal Justice and Criminology, to support the project. David Van Zytveld and Teresa Neumann from CURL are also involved in the project.