Skip to main content Skip to navigation

Criminology / Criminal Justice

Spring 2020

Cannabis in WA state

The legalization of recreational cannabis in Washington state and Colorado in 2012 opened a box full of questions and debates about the drug and its related crop, hemp.

What is the effect on youth? Will crime go up? How does cannabis interact with other drugs and medicines? What health claims are accurate? How does the potency of cannabis affect mental health? These gaps, and many others, in our knowledge—combined with unverified claims by both proponents and opponents of legalized cannabis—make it difficult to find the best ways to regulate and manage the substance.

To answer the call, almost 100 Washington State University researchers have begun … » More …

Fall 2013

If You Don’t Snooze, You Lose

About an hour before sunrise on August 27, 2006, Comair Flight 5191 was approaching 120 miles per hour on its takeoff from the Blue Grass Airport in Lexington, Kentucky, when co-pilot James Polehinke noticed something strange about the runway.

“That is weird,” he said in a conversation captured by the flight recorder. “No lights.”

“Yeah,” said Capt. Jeffrey Clay.

Sixteen seconds later, their 50-seat commuter jet ran out of runway. Polehinke just managed to get airborne but not enough. The plane hit an earthen berm, clipped a fence and a clump of trees, and went down in a ball of flames.

The pilots had gone … » More …

Just Mercy
Spring 2016

Just Mercy

Dozens of witnesses, including a police officer, saw Walter McMillian at a church fish fry when a young woman was killed in nearby Monroeville, Alabama in 1986.

Police later arrested the self-employed African-American tree trimmer anyway. A nearly all-white jury convicted him and a judge sent him to death row. That’s where Bryan Stevenson, a Harvard-educated lawyer, met McMillian.

Stevenson, founder of the Equal Justice Initiative, battled a hostile criminal justice system to uncover improperly concealed evidence that led to McMillian’s exoneration in 1993.

But the frightening way McMillian was so quickly condemned raises broader questions about America’s criminal justice system, which incarcerates more … » More …

Nancy Rodriguez, Courtesy National Institute of Justice
Spring 2016

Beyond Just Training: A conversation with NIJ Director Nancy Rodriguez

Police training is just one piece of the complex scientific puzzle to measure law enforcement effectiveness, says Nancy Rodriguez PhD ’98, the director of the National Institute of Justice (NIJ). The NIJ is the research arm of the U.S. Department of Justice, and Rodriguez was appointed in October 2014 by President Barack Obama.

“This goes beyond just training,” she says. “In the past there was a focus on behavioral research, or on technology. We need to understand the connections between different areas.”

Rodriguez’s deep expertise—from her doctoral research at WSU with Professor Nicholas Lovrich and later her professional career at Arizona State University—gives her … » More …

Sue Rahr '79. Photo Matt Hagen
Spring 2016

New ways of training police: Sue Rahr ’79

Former King County sheriff and policing expert Sue Rahr ’79 talks about new ways of police training. Rahr was selected by President Barack Obama for the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing. She is also director of the Washington State Criminal Justice Training Commission (CJTC), which has moved toward more intervention and de-escalation techniques for police officers.

Read about Rahr’s work:

Creating guardians, calming warriors—A new style of training for police recruits emphasizes techniques to better de-escalate conflict situations (Washington Post, December 10, 2015)

Can Sue Rahr reinvent policing? (Crosscut, April 28, 2015)

Coming soon: A discussion with Sue Rahr … » More …