Students Earn Best of the Midwest in Research Papers

An undergraduate and a graduate student in the Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology recently won outstanding student paper awards from the Midwestern Criminal Justice Association.

Ph.D. Student Alicia Jurek (pictured left) captured the Graduate Student Paper Award for the second year in a row with her study “Correctional institutions as organizations and their influence on inmate assaults.” Senior Rachael Falgout (pictured right) was recognized in the undergraduate category with her paper entitled “Police chiefs’ tolerance of officer misconduct: An empirical inquiry.”

Jurek applied organizational theory to State prisons to examine the impact of institutional characteristics on inmate-on-inmate assaults. While most research focuses on individual factors that contribute to prison misconduct, such as inmate characteristics or inmate reactions to prison conditions, this study looks at organizational policies, procedures, and practices that may affect inmate assaults. Jurek wrote her paper as part of a doctoral seminar with Dr. Erin Orrick.

“It’s really an honor to win this award and represent our university to others in the field,” said Jurek.
Jurek also was recognized with the outstanding graduate student paper in 2015 for a study on specialized human trafficking units in American police departments. That study was based on a national random sample of 300 agencies with 100 or more employees, and Jurek found that only 13.7 percent of these agencies had adopted specialized units to address human trafficking.

Falgout’s paper, which was based on surveys of 650 local police chiefs as part of the professional development programs at the Law Enforcement Management Institute of Texas, revealed that chiefs universally condemn all forms of misconduct by their officers, but a small sub-set viewed it more leniently. The data, gathered as part of the Texas Chiefs of Police Panel Project, indicated that non-White chiefs serving communities with greater levels of social disorganization were more intolerant of police misconduct. Falgout wrote her paper as part of Senior Honors Thesis, which was supervised by Dr. William King.

“This study is important due to the prevalence and amount of contact the public has with the police, and especially with the spotlight on recent misconduct cases,” said Falgout, who plans to get her masters in clinical psychology and continue research on crime and forensic populations. “I hope that I can do more research on this topic and related subjects, and that further studies can be conducted by other researchers as well. “

The Midwestern Criminal Justice Association is a regional organization affiliated with the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences. The purpose of MCJA is to foster communication and collaboration among criminal justice researchers, academics, and practitioners. MCJA members include representatives from Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, Wisconsin, and the Canadian Provinces of Manitoba and Saskatchewan.

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