Loyola University Chicago

Center for Criminal Justice


  • ICJIA Announces Inaugural Candice M. Kane Lifetime Service Award

    Dr. David Olson is the inaugural recipient of the ICJIA Candice M. Kane Lifetime Service Award. The annual award is given to individuals who embody Candice's legacy of humility, innovation, and dedication to improving ICJIA's work.
  • Illinois Governor’s Commission on Criminal Justice Reform Issues Recommendations, Loyola to Assist in Implementation of Reform Efforts

    The Illinois Governor’s Commission on Criminal Justice and Sentencing Reform released its final report and set of recommendations on Tuesday, January 10, 2017.
  • Center takes innovative approach to improving criminal justice system

    Loyola’s new Center for Criminal Justice Research, Policy, and Practice brings together experts and students from several fields of study to share resources and insights—with the ultimate goal of creating a criminal justice system that is more fair, effective, and cost efficient.
  • UNICEF Chicago honors Diane Geraghty

    The United Nations Childrens Fund (UNICEF) has honored Center Co-Director Diane Geraghty with a Chicago Humanitarian Award for outstanding work on behalf of children and the community. The September 23rd awards luncheon recognized “extraordinary Chicagoans” who have made significant contributions to children’s lives through their local and international work to end violence, protect human rights, advance civil rights and improve community health. Diane Geraghty was recognized for her work to establish and direct the Loyola University Chicago Civitas Child Law Center.
  • MCJA honors David Olson

    Dr. David Olson, Center co-director, received the Tom Castellano Award from the Midwestern Criminal Justice Association for his service to the Association. The award was presented at the MCJA Annual Conference in Chicago on September 23, 2016. The Midwestern Criminal Justice Association is a regional organization affiliated with the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences and seeks to foster communication and collaboration among criminal justice researchers, academics, and practitioners.
  • Student research

    Diane Cervantes, an undergraduate student and McNair Scholar working with faculty in the Center, participated in a poster presentation at the Midwestern Criminal Justice Association Annual Conference. Her presentation summarized her research on Hispanic inmates released from the Illinois Department of Corrections, and how their characteristics varied by immigration status.
  • Social Justice and Criminal Justice

    Dr. David Olson, Center co-director, collaborated with Loyola’s Center for Urban Research and Learning (CURL) and the Office of Student Transition and Outreach, to develop a Social Justice Dinner Dialog session. Sponsored by the Department of Student Diversity & Multicultural Affairs, this session, titled Crime, Punishment and Redemption, continued the dialog surrounding the “Just Mercy” first-year text This event was held on September 26th at Loyola’s Lake Shore Campus.
  • Communications and Criminal Justice

    On September 2, 2016, Dr. David Olson, Center co-director, made a presentation to journalism students in Loyola’s School of Communication to discuss some of the emerging issues related to crime and justice system reform. The presentation was designed to stimulate ideas for the students’ writing and stories that will be featured in the School of Communication’s “Mosaic” magazine. Mosaic is a student developed and produced annual magazine that highlights specific issues, and this year’s focus will be on violence in Chicago.
  • Student Orientation

    Dr. David Olson, Center co-director, collaborated with faculty from the Departments of History and Psychology, as well as staff from Loyola’s Office of Student Transition and Outreach, to develop a First-Year Text Discussion Lunch for faculty and staff to discuss “Just Mercy” by Brian Stevenson. This event was held in August 2016 and was attended by more than 60 Loyola faculty and staff.
  • Stopping “Crossover” from Childhood Maltreatment to Delinquency and Criminal Justice Involvement

    CCJ Program Manager Lisa Jacobs presented a session at the Illinois Judicial Education Conference on April 4th to provide Illinois judges with research, data and practice models for improving outcomes and public safety when youth become “dually involved” in child welfare and juvenile justice (delinquency) systems.
  • Reducing Jail Populations, Improving Local Justice Systems

    The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation has announced nearly $25 million in support for ambitious plans to create fairer, more effective local justice systems across the country. The Foundation is awarding grants of up to $3.5 million each to 11 jurisdictions to reduce their jail populations and address racial and ethnic disparities in their justice systems.
  • The Decriminalizing Race And Poverty Symposium

    The Decriminalizing Race And Poverty Symposium will explore important current issues facing the justice system, including race and policing, debtors’ prison practices, and implicit bias in the criminal justice system.
  • ICJIA Seeks Research and Data Specialists

    The Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority (ICJIA) is seeking a new Criminal Justice Specialist in the Research and Evaluation Center to conduct research and evaluation through the development of research methodologies, creation of surveys, collection of data and research reports.
  • Crime of the Century: Our Tragic Failure to Prevent the Lead Pandemic

    Lead toxicity in children, which costs the U.S. $50 billion each year, is a major risk factor for IQ deficits, ADHD and violent crimes, yet its contribution to these preventable tragedies is largely ignored. Internationally renowned lead expert, Dr. Bruce Lanphear, will discuss the toxic legacy of lead poisoning, the history of #LeadEpidemic, and how we can address the tragedy.
  • National Criminal Justice Association (NCJA) seeking new Executive Director

    The National Criminal Justice Association (NCJA) is seeking a new Executive Director. Based in Washington, D.C., the NCJA represents state, tribal and local governments on crime prevention and crime control issues.

Nearly 200 criminal justice and community stakeholders convened on February 19th for the inaugural conference of Loyola’s new Center for Criminal Justice Research, Policy and Practice.  Emerging Adults and the Criminal Justice System:  Charting the Course for Policy and Practice featured nationally prominent researchers, policy experts and advocates to provide cutting edge data, analysis and policy recommendations for improving outcomes of young people and communities when “emerging adults” between 18 and 25 years old are in conflict with the law.  Current Illinois data indicates that this age group comprises approximately 15% of the population, but approximately 1/3 of those involved in the criminal justice system.  Participants included policy makers and practitioners from Illinois and beyond.                                                                            

Presenters included:

Rolf Loeber, PhD  (Distinguished University Professor of Psychiatry, Professor of Psychology and Epidemiology, University of Pittsburgh)

Thomas Grisso, PhD (Professor Emeritus in Psychiatry at the University of Massachusetts Medical School; Professor and Researcher, University of Massachusetts Law and Psychiatry Program)

David Olson, PhD (Professor, Criminal Justice and Criminology Department;  Director, Graduate Program in Criminal Justice and Criminology; Co-Director, Center for Criminal Justice Research, Policy and Practice, Loyola University Chicago)

Howard Spivak, MD (Deputy Director and Chief of Staff, National Institute of Justice, Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs)

Gina M. Vincent, PhD (Associate Professor, Director of Translational Law & Psychiatry Research, Systems & Psychosocial Advances Research Center (SPARC))

Don Stemen, PhD (Associate Professor and Chairperson, Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology and Graduate Faculty, Loyola University, Chicago)

Marc Schindler, JD (Executive Director, Justice Policy Institute)

Marcus Bullock (Chief Executive Officer, Perspectives Premier Contractors and Founder, FlikShop, LLC)

Brent Cohen, MPA (Senior Advisor to the Assistant Attorney General of Justice Programs, Department of Justice)

Marc Levin, JD (Right on Crime Policy Director, Director of the Center for Effective Justice, Texas Public Policy Foundation)

Vincent Schiraldi, MSW (Senior Research Fellow, Program in Criminal Justice Policy and Management, Malcolm Wiener Center for Social Policy, Harvard Kennedy School of Government)

Interim Provost Patrick Boyle presented remarks at the Center’s formal launch, on Friday, February 19th and discussed the Center’s role in Loyola’s Strategic Plan 2020.  To support the development of effective policy and practice, the Center will publish a series of conference reports, articles and data analyses over the next 12 months.  The Center will also convene a series of workshops and summits to assist policy makers in applying research on “what works” to reduce criminal offending and encourage positive outcomes with young adults at risk of criminal justice system involvement or reoffending.

Loyola’s new Center for Criminal Justice Research, Policy, and Practice brings together experts and students from several fields of study to share resources and insights—with the ultimate goal of creating a criminal justice system that is more fair, effective, and cost efficient.

By Drew Sottardi  |  Senior writer

If you want to tackle the crime problem in Chicago—or any other city, for that matter—you need to think of it as more than just a criminal justice issue. It’s an education issue, a socio-economic issue, a mental health issue, and more.

In short, it’s a complex problem that requires innovative solutions.


That’s exactly the approach Loyola is taking with its new Center for Criminal Justice Research, Policy, and Practice. The recently launched center brings together experts and students from several fields of study to share resources and insights—with the ultimate goal of creating a criminal justice system that is more fair, effective, and cost efficient.

It’s the perfect time to launch such a center because criminal justice agencies have more data now than ever before, and they need help to understand all of that new information, said David Olson, PhD, co-director of the center and professor of criminal justice and criminology in the University’s College of Arts and Sciences.  

“Agencies and other groups want to have policies that are based on sound policy analysis and research, and a university is the ideal entity to facilitate that goal,” Olson said. “We have the skills and expertise to carry out that kind of research, but we’re also objective and not here to advocate for a political point of view. We provide policymakers with solid research that they can use to inform their decisions.”

Joining Olson as co-director of the new center is the School of Law’s Diane Geraghty, JD, who also serves as director of the Civitas ChildLaw Center. Like Olson, she has spent her career working to improve the criminal justice system. And, like her colleague, she believes the center is coming along at the ideal time.

“We know so much more now about what does and doesn’t work in the criminal justice system,” Geraghty said. “There’s a general agreement that what we’ve been doing, at least on a macro level, isn’t working. We need to be smart on crime, as opposed to just tough on crime.”

A history of reform

The new center is just one example of how Loyola is working to improve the criminal justice system. Over the years, researchers and students from across the University have teamed up on countless projects—from examining the psychological barriers ex-offenders face when looking for work, to a student-produced magazine devoted to crime and violence in Chicago.

Last year, Loyola launched Plan 2020, a five-year roadmap that promotes social justice and aims to build a more just, humane, and sustainable world. The center, which is supported in part by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, is a key part of that strategic plan.

By using research to evaluate current policies—and by working closely with government agencies, nonprofit organizations, and other groups—the center hopes to bring sweeping improvements to the criminal justice system. But instead of focusing exclusively on a single element, such as policing strategies or sentencing guidelines, the center plans to take a wide look at the entire system.

“Everything is interconnected,” Olson said. “You can’t look at one component or element in isolation and truly understand what’s going on in the criminal justice system. If you do, it’s like having blinders on.”

Because criminal justice touches so many fields of study, Olson and Geraghty are reaching out to fellow professors and students across the University to get their input and expertise. Olson, for instance, has been talking with environmental science faculty members and students who are using geo-mapping to see if green spaces have any effect on crime rates. Geraghty, meanwhile, has collaborated with professors from the Department of Psychology and hopes to one day work with faculty members who specialize in predictive analytics.   

And that’s only scratching the surface of what the center hopes to do. The possibilities, Olson said, are virtually endless. “You name a discipline and I can show how criminal justice relates to it,” he said.

Emerging science

As one of its first initiatives, the center is looking at how the criminal justice system handles the so-called emerging adult population—offenders between the ages of 18 and 24. This group represents a disproportionate amount of overall arrests and admissions into jails and prisons. Statistics also show that emerging adults are more likely than other age groups to be arrested for violent offenses and to commit crimes more quickly when they are released.

But new research suggests that these offenders—despite their reckless, impulsive behavior—can be rehabilitated. The key is getting them the proper support and services.

“We need to recognize that maybe this group, despite technically being ‘adults,’ doesn’t respond to the same programs and strategies that we use for older adults,” Olson said.

One idea the center is exploring is whether younger offenders might respond better to younger probation officers or those who act more like social workers and less like the police. The theory, Olson said, is that emerging adults might be able to develop a better rapport with them—and in turn, they’d be more likely to follow through on the terms of their probation. 

As for Geraghty, she hopes that the center will help transform a criminal justice system that is clearly in disarray. As someone who has been at Loyola for nearly four decades and is well versed in the University’s Jesuit mission of helping others, she has a simple message: “I think there’s a sense among people that we as a society can do better than this. We can protect victims and make communities safer in a way that preserves dignity.”


The Center for Criminal Justice Research, Policy, and Practice brings together experts and students from several fields of study to share resources and insights.