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Criminology professors receive national awards

November 27, 2013

Six professors from the ASU School of Criminology and Criminal Justice received awards at the annual meeting of the American Society of Criminology held in Atlanta.

Kristy Holtfreter, Justin Ready, Ron Simons, Cassia Spohn, Xia Wang and Min Xie were recognized for their research or body of work on topics ranging from white collar crime to how the interaction of genes and social environmental conditions can trigger aggression. 

The awards include the prestigious “Fellow” distinction, bestowed upon foundation professor Cassia Spohn, and the Outstanding Article Award, given to foundation professor Ron Simons, who recently joined the faculty from the University of Georgia.

“These awards are a testimony to the hard work of the SCCJ faculty at ASU, where there is a culture of excellence that encourages the highest level of work and support among the faculty,” said Scott Decker, director of the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice at Arizona State University. “The work represented by these awards will serve as a foundation for future excellence.”

Besides being named a “Fellow” by the American Society of Criminology, Spohn also received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the ASC Division on Corrections and Sentencing. Spohn is one the nation’s foremost experts on sentencing and is the author of the book "How Do Judges Decide? The Search for Fairness and Justice in Punishment." 

“This recognition is certainly merited for Dr. Cassia Spohn, whose research on sentencing, courts and race has redefined both scholarship and practice in these core areas of the discipline," Decker said. “The faculty and students of the school salute her for her continued excellence and high standards.”

Simons and co-authors (pictured above with co-author Karlo Lei) were recognized with the Outstanding Article Award by ASC. “Social Environment, Genes, and Aggression: Evidence Supporting the Differential Susceptibility Perspective,” published in American Sociological Review, was based on longitudinal data from a sample of several hundred African Americans. They found that adverse social conditions trigger certain genes creating aggression.

Assistant professor Xia Wang and associate professor Kristy Holtfreter received the Outstanding Publication Award from the White Collar Crime Research Consortium at the ASC annual meeting. Their article, “The effects of corporation- and industry-level strain and opportunity on corporate crime,” was published in the Journal of Research in Crime & Delinquency. Wang and Holtfreter hypothesized that corporate- and industry-level strain – cultural pressures to achieve monetary success – and opportunity can lead to increases in corporate crime. 

“Their paper combined quantitative rigor, sociological insight and some policy reflections which impressed the committee enough to award it the prize,” said Cardiff University criminology professor Michael Levi, who chaired the White Collar Crime Research Consortium award’s committee.

Wang received another award at the conference. She was given the New Scholar Award from the ASC Division on People of Color and Crime. It recognizes an individual in the early stages of her or his career who has made significant recent contributions to the literature on race, ethnicity, crime and justice. Race, sentencing and recidivism are among some of the areas explored by Wang in her research.

The ASC Division of Experimental Criminology and Academy of Experimental Criminology gave its Young Experimental Scholar Award to Justin Ready, an assistant professor in the ASU School of Criminology and Criminal Justice. Ready has examined various issues related to the growing use of Tasers by police. 

Min Xie received an award at the ASC annual meeting for the second consecutive year. Last year’s winner of the Ruth Shonle Cavan Young Scholar Award, Xie was named the Faculty Researcher of the Year by the ASC Division of Victimology. It’s the second major award for Xie this year. She received the Becky Tatum Excellence Award from the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences Minorities and Women Section.

Two other criminology professors were informed they will receive awards in April. Assistant professor Danielle Wallace, professor Charles Katz and co-author Eric Hedberg will receive the Charles Bonjean Award from Social Science Quarterly at the annual meeting of the Southwestern Social Sciences Association. Their article, “The Impact of Foreclosures on Neighborhood Disorder Before and During the Housing Crisis: Testing the Spiral of Decay,” found there was no conclusive evidence that foreclosures had any lasting impact on crime rates in neighborhoods, despite media reports to the contrary.    

“I am very honored to win this award,” said Wallace. “My co-authors and I are both shocked and ecstatic. We enjoyed working together on this project.”