Economics and Criminal Justice, Criminal Justice Policy Analysis, Inequality and Social Control, Simulation Modeling, Incarceration, Drug Policy, Adjudication and Sentencing


My research focuses on issues of power, inequality, and social control. Combining theoretical and practical considerations, my work in the area of policy evaluation utilizes a realist framework. This research highlights the objectives of criminal justice policy reform as articulated by policymakers and compares the results with stated goals, while also considering of the public safety function of the criminal justice system and the responsibilities policymakers have to their constituents. In some of my work, I use simulation modeling to explore the consequences of reform from a systemic perspective, as well as more traditional quantitative and qualitative methods. 

My most recent book, Collision Course:  Economic Change, Criminal Justice Reform, and Work in America (Rutgers University Press, January 2022) examines the intersection of the economy and criminal justice reform. Over the last three decades, the US prison population grew dramatically, largely fueled by the enforcement of policies associated with the War on Drugs. At the same time, the American economic system underwent radical transformation, characterized by growth in highly-skilled sector occupations and decline in unskilled jobs as a result of automation and foreign outsourcing, as well as declines in labor demand generally, as evidenced by a “slack” labor market. Current trends in criminal justice, such as increased interest in reentry and in reducing rates of return for former prisoners, as well as the growing movement toward drug policy reform, if continued, will ultimately result in the decarceration and reintroduction of large numbers of men and women into the labor market. These individuals are largely superfluous to the current economic system; given the cultural and social primacy of remunerative employment, the integration of these men and women into modern American society presents a significant social policy challenge. Because the American economy is unlikely to evolve in ways that will absorb these individuals, alternative approaches to addressing both the labor market discrepancy and the consequent implications for crime merit exploration. This project focuses on the idea of citizenship rights, and proposes consideration of a federally-administered means-tested Guaranteed Basic Income, modeling a comparison of the costs of such a policy as compared to those of incarceration over the life course. 

I teach courses on criminal justice policy, with an emphasis on the critical analysis and evaluation of these policies. Critical thinking and student participation in class discussions is an indispensable part of these courses. My goal is to get students to examine all sides of an issue, and hone the critical skills required to form their own conclusions.

Curriculum Vitae

Selected Publications

  • Auerhahn, Kathleen (2022).  Collision Course: Economic Change, Criminal Justice Reform, and Work in America.  Rutgers University Press.
  • Auerhahn, Kathleen, Jaime S. Henderson,* Patrick R. McConnell,* and Brian Lockwood* (2017). “Are You Judged by the Residence You Keep? Homicide Sentencing, Attribution, and Neighborhood Context.” Criminology, Criminal Justice, Law & Society. Volume 18, Number 1: 28-51.
  • Taylor, Caitlin J.* and Kathleen Auerhahn (2015). “Community Justice and Public Safety: Assessing Criminal Justice Policy through the Lens of the Social Contract.” Criminology & Criminal Justice. Volume 15, Number 3: 300-320.
  • Auerhahn, Kathleen (2014). “Sentencing Policy and the Shaping of Prison Demographics,” Chapter 2 (pp. 21-41) in Senior Citizens Behind Bars: Challenges for the Criminal Justice System. John J. Kerbs and Jennifer M. Jolley (Eds.) Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner Publishers. 
  • Auerhahn, Kathleen (2012).  “ ‘Social Control of the Self’ and Pleading Guilty in Criminal Court.” International Review of Sociology. Volume 22, Number 1:95-122.
  • Auerhahn, Kathleen and Caitlin J. McGuire* (2010). Revisiting the Social Contract: Community Justice and Public Safety. Nova Science Publishers. 
  • Auerhahn, Kathleen (2003). Selective Incapacitation and Public Policy: Evaluating California’s Imprisonment Crisis. State University of New York Press.

*denotes graduate student co-author

Courses Taught


  • CJ 3302: Prisons in America
  • CJ 3002: Drugs, Crime & Justice
  • CJ 4097: Capstone Seminar: Criminal Justice & the Economy


  • CJ 8223: Risk, Prediction & Classification
  • CJ 8320: Special Topics in Criminal Justice Policy - Mass Incarceration & Decarceration