Dr. Ajima Olaghere and Dr. E. Rely Vilcica recently received Liberal Arts Undergraduate Research Awards LAURA. LAURA creates more opportunities for undergraduate students to develop research skills by working with faculty mentors on faculty-led research projects while simultaneously increasing support for faculty research in the College of Liberal Arts.

Dr. Olaghere will be working with Erin Young on research entitled, Motivations for Police Proactivity at the Street-Level: A Meta-Synthesis. The project concerns a meta-synthesis that aims to synthesize the available literature on the proactive behaviors of police officers to glean an understanding of the factors that influence police proactivity at the street-level. We do not know the reasons why officers make decisions nor do we have insight into their decision-making process. The one major objective for this evidence synthesis is to develop a middle range theory about police officer decision-making. Additionally, the project is interested in systematically synthesizing qualitative research on this topic to complement findings from the National Academy of Science’s NAS Committee on Proactive Policing.

Dr. E. Rely Vilcica will be working with Sierra Austin on research entitled, Legitimacy in Corrections: Perspectives from Incarcerated Individuals. This study seeks to add to existing research on procedural justice and legitimacy by focusing on prisons aka, correctional institutions . The study will involve archival research and a qualitative content analysis of approximately 160 unsolicited letters from incarcerated individuals in the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections. These letters were written at a time of crisis during which releases from prisons where halted by a temporary executive order i.e., moratorium by the state Governor. The study will draw on the letters to guide our understanding about the direct impact and collateral consequences for incarcerated individuals and their families that may result from acts of political expediency in correctional policy. The findings should illuminate important theoretical implications regarding justice system legitimacy, and policy directions for correctional decision making, especially related to prison release and prisoner reentry in society.

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