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ASU criminologist appointed director of National Institute of Justice

ASU professor Nancy Rodriguez
October 30, 2014

Nancy Rodriguez, a professor in the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice, part of the College of Public Programs at Arizona State University, has been appointed by President Barack Obama to be the next director of the Department of Justice’s National Institute of Justice.

Rodriguez is a nationally recognized scholar in the areas of race, crime and juvenile justice. Her research interests include inequality (race/ethnicity, class, crime and justice) and the collateral consequences of imprisonment.

“Dr. Rodriguez is an outstanding choice to lead the National Institute of Justice. This is a time when criminal justice agencies, nonprofits and the public are calling for increased evidence-based solutions to crime and criminal justice,” says Scott Decker, Foundation Professor in the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice.

“No one is better versed in applying research to problems and reaching solutions. Nancy’s long and successful history of working with agencies will be a model for NIJ and the nation to follow,” he added.

Jonathan Koppell, dean of the College of Public Programs, says, “Dr. Rodriguez has an impressive record of both high-quality empirical research and strong partnerships with public and private organizations to put that knowledge into practice.”

“I can think of no one more qualified to lead the National Institute of Justice. Dr. Rodriguez has devoted her career to use-inspired research and has worked with agencies at all levels of government to implement evidence-based practices and to evaluate policies and programs. NIJ will indeed be in good hands during her tenure,” adds Cassia Spohn, director of the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice.

Rodriguez recently completed an assessment of minority youth over-representation in the Arizona juvenile justice system. Currently, she is conducting a longitudinal study of families affected by maternal and paternal incarceration. Her work has been supported by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, Bureau of Justice Statistics, the National Institute of Justice and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Rodriguez joined Arizona State University in 1998 after receiving her doctoral degree in political science from Washington State University.

Among her many honors, Rodriguez has received the Coramae Richey Mann Award from the American Society of Criminology and the W.E.B. DuBois Award from the Western Society of Criminology.

She is the co-author of "Just Cause or Just Because? Prosecution and Plea-bargaining Resulting in Prison Sentences on Low-level Drug Charges in California and Arizona" and co-editor of "Images of Color, Images of Crime: Readings." Her recent work has appeared in journals including Criminology, Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency, Criminal Justice and Behavior, and Justice Quarterly.

Created in 1969, the National Institute of Justice is part of the Office of Justice Programs within the U.S. Department of Justice. The agency plays an instrumental role in funding and supervising evidence-based criminal justice research that focuses on crime reduction and promotion of justice at the state and local level.