Some of these individuals participated in the ASC Oral History Project. For more information, please go to the Oral History Project page.
ALAN A. BLOCK
Alan A. Block (Ph.D., UCLA) was a professor at the University of Alfred, the University of Delaware, and the Pennsylvania State University. He was an influential and pioneering organized crime scholar who authored or co-authored books such as: East Side-West Side, Poisoning for Profit; The Business of Crime, Masters of Paradise, All Is Clouded by Desire, and Space, Time & Organized Crime. He compiled a robust and distinguished record of scholarship and was the longtime editor of Crime, Law and Social Change. Professor Block created international programs in the Netherlands, Wales, and Denmark and mentored numerous graduate students du! ring his career. He passed away on January 27, 2017 after decade-long struggle with Alzheimer's Disease. He is survived by his wife Constance, four daughters, and several grandchildren.
ROBERT J. BURSIK, JR.
Robert J. Bursik, Jr., Curators' Distinguished Professor (emeritus) of Criminology and Criminal Justice at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, passed away on July 19, 2017. Bob, as he was known by all, had retired from the university in August 2016. He received his B.A. (1973) in sociology from Rutgers University, and his M.A. (1975) and Ph.D. (1980) in sociology from the University of Chicago. Prior to his coming to UMSL in 1996, Bob was a research scientist at the Institute for Juvenile Research (IJR) in Chicago and professor and chair of the department of sociology at the University of Oklahoma. Bob served as Editor of Criminology from 1997 to 2003, and he was named Fellow of the ASC in 1998. He received the Herbert Bloch Award for service to the ASC in 2005, and served as President of the ASC in 2008.
Bob Bursik was an accomplished scholar and is widely recognized as one of the key persons responsible for the resurgence of community studies of crime in the field of criminology in the late 1980s. His book Neighborhoods and Crime: The Dimensions of Effective Community Control, co-authored with Harold G. Grasmick (1993), Lexington Books, identified many of the important elements necessary for a comprehensive understanding of how community organization, through its formal and informal networks, could work to control levels of crime and delinquency. His other areas of research interest included crime and immigration, changes in urban areas and crime over time, crime in rural America, and broader tests of core criminological hypotheses. His body of work has been cited more than 7,000 times. Rather than attempt to summarize his views on criminology and sociology, we encourage you to watch his interview for the ASC Oral History project at: https://www.asc41.com/videos/Oral_History/Robert_Bursik.html
Bob was known by colleagues and students as someone who was intellectually demanding, yet ready to help those who were struggling with theories, hypotheses and analysis. He disliked pomp and pretension and mocked them at every opportunity. As many know, one of his pet peeves was the failure to recognize the contributions of previous scholars, particularly the discipline's foremothers and forefathers who struggled with many of the same issues of concern to criminologists today. But perhaps equally so, Bob was known as someone who valued those shunned and outcast by society. He knew many of the 'invisible' people of St. Louis, and it seemed as though everyone in town knew who Bob was, as he was often engaging in countless large and small acts of kindness to others.
We would be remiss if we did not mention Bob's genuine appreciation for the more bizarre aspects of American culture. He had the largest and most diverse music library any of us has ever seen, and a "bad" movie collection that was spectacular. He often tortured the faculty and students in the department with odd foods, especially experimental Oreos. His obvious love of tattoos was infectious, and within his first few years at UMSL, the faculty could proudly boast they had the highest prevalence rate of body modifications. So many of us have "Bursik" stories, and we encourage those who do to share them at the memorial session for Bob at the 2017 meetings of the ASC.
Professor Bursik is survived by son Travis Bursik, and daughter-in-law, Cara Kendall, who reside in St. Louis. He was preceded in death in 2013 by his wife Jennifer Gurley Bursik, who served as managing editor of Criminology during Bob's term as Editor. Memorial donations in memory of Bob can be made to Tenth Life Cat Rescue, P.O. Box 63187, St. Louis, MO, 63163.
TRAVIS W. HIRSCHI
Travis W. Hirschi, Regents’ Professor (emeritus) at the University of Arizona, passed away at his home in Tucson January 2, 2017. One of the leading criminologists of the past century, Travis fundamentally changed the way scholars throughout the world study and think about crime, deviance and conformity.
Born in southern Utah on April 15th 1935, Travis graduated from the University of Utah in 1957 with a B.S. in sociology and history and received a M.S. in sociology and educational psychology in 1958. In 1955 he and Anna Yergensen, also from southern Utah, were married. After college, they moved to Washington, D.C., while Travis served in the United States Army at Fort Meyer, Virginia.
After his military service, Travis enrolled in the Ph.D. program in sociology at the University of California, Berkeley. This was perhaps the most important and active period in the history of American sociology centered on delinquency theory. It was also the beginning of Travis’s life-long commitment to the idea that both theory and method were crucial in understanding delinquency and crime. At Berkeley, he had the opportunity to study with Erving Goffman, David Matza, Irving Piliavin, Hanan Selvin, and Charles Glock. At the same time, he also fashioned life-long colleagueship with fellow students such as Rodney Stark and John Lofland. Travis received the Ph.D. in 1968.
From the beginning of his graduate studies, Travis was interested in fundamental questions about deviance and conformity, how they were explained by major social theories and how modern empirical research should be used to uncover facts bearing on the theories. Seeking answers to these questions characterized his work throughout his long career.
Recognizing that questions of social responses to crime and violence were at the heart of major theories of society, he, more than most scholars of the day, sought to situate theories of delinquency in the larger landscape of theories of the social order. His deliberations about such matters transformed the way contemporary scholars think about crime and justice and elevated discussions of delinquency to consideration of ideas about human nature and the nature of society.
Remarkably, at the same time, Travis pursued the idea that the important purpose of methodology in the social sciences was to connect theory and data—and that good methods could be judged only to the extent that they allow facts to be explicated by systematic ideas. His first book, written in collaboration with Hanan Selvin, a Tour de Force of research on crime and delinquency, established Travis as a penetrating thinker about the connection between research and its theoretical meaning (Delinquency Research: An Appraisal of Analytic Methods, 1967). It is noteworthy that this book was written while Travis was a graduate student.
After graduate school, Travis joined the faculty in the Department of Sociology at the University of Washington (1967-71). It was there that he published his second book, Causes of Delinquency, (1969). The book, drawn from his dissertation work, established him as one of the most significant figures in criminology. Causes of Delinquency is a work like no other in the field of criminology with respect to its impact on thinking about crime and delinquency: It presented and tested a control theory of crime; it illustrated the power of explicit operationalization of criminological theories; it created contrasts among prominent theories in expectations for data; it helped legitimize survey methods of measuring crime and delinquency as well as key theoretical constructs; it brought the family and the school back into a central role in theory and research. And, it tied delinquency research to the most fundamental questions of social order, human nature, and classic theory.
From Washington, Travis moved back to California and to the University of California at Davis (1971-77) as Professor of Sociology, where he served as Chair of the department. He then moved to the School of Criminal Justice at the University at Albany (first in 1974-75 as a visiting professor; then 1977-81 as professor) where he enjoyed a close collaboration with Michael Hindelang and working with graduate students. His work with Hindelang resulted in fundamental studies of the causes and correlates of crime, including the book-length study of self-report methods for the study of delinquency (Measuring Delinquency, with Michael Hindelang and Joseph Weis, 1981). It is noteworthy that the project helped provide validation evidence for self-report methods but is cited just as often for its substantive contributions about the nature of delinquency. Also while at Albany, Travis and Michael Gottfredson began a decades-long collaboration, continuing a focus on the implications of facts about crime for theories of crime, an interest they both shared with Michael Hindelang. The paper they began at Albany on age and crime, and its derivations, might today be characterized as a “disruptive” event in criminology.
From Albany, Travis returned to the West, joining the University of Arizona in 1981 where he remained through retirement, from the university, in 1997. In 1990, he and Gottfredson (also then at Arizona) published A General Theory of Crime. This book continued the exploration of reconciliation between control theory and the facts about crime and delinquency, in contrast with other theories. The theory (often now referred to as self-control theory) is today a focus of considerable attention in research, theory, and public policy in criminology and criminal justice.
Throughout his career, Travis was highly honored for his contributions to criminology. His work is uniformly praised as “path breaking”, “provocative”, and “vitally important.” (His scholarship is occasionally described as “controversial”, provoking his amusement at how a work could be path breaking and provocative while avoiding controversy). He was elected President of the American Society of Criminology and was also the recipient of the society’s Edwin H. Sutherland Award, the ASC’s highest honor. His book with Selvin was awarded the C. Wright Mills Award and he was elected a member of the Sociological Research Association. The Western Society of Criminology gave him the Paul Tappan Award. In 2016, Travis was awarded the Stockholm Prize in Criminology, honoring his lifelong contributions to our field.
Travis was raised and lived most of his life in the western states and was drawn to the majesty of his surroundings. Camping, driving trips, trout fishing, and gardening were his life-long interests. His love of the southwest was revealed in his large yard planted carefully with native plants. Like many agriculturists, he complained incessantly about the weather, but his skills at creating productive vegetable gardens in the desert environment were unrivaled. Family and friends knew of his culinary skills, especially sourdough pancakes and homemade root beer. He read widely for pleasure, in literature, in science, and in philosophy. For a period he helped repopulate northwest Tucson with the desert tortoise, failing persistently in methods for their incarceration in his yard.
For his many friends, students and colleagues, Travis’s humor and intelligence combined to enhance every personal interaction. His lectures were punctuated with humor and he was drawn frequently to describe the ironies in both everyday occurrences and in professional writings. His students and colleagues uniformly describe him as generous, caring and a delight to be around. There can be little doubt that among his lasting contributions to criminology was his role as graduate teacher and mentor to many students, some of whom have taken their place as among the field’s most accomplished scholars. His closest friends and colleagues knew him to be both erudite and utterly without pretension.
No criminologist is as responsible as is Travis for describing the influential role of the family in the causation of delinquency and crime—from Causes of Delinquency through A General Theory of Crime. His exploration of the significance of the interactions between parents and children for the life-chances of children helped fill a void in the field. It should come as no surprise that attachment and commitment to his own family were the center of his own life. He is survived by his wife Anna (they celebrated their 61st wedding anniversary this fall!); and by their children Kendall, Nathan, and Justine (Van Nimwegen), their spouses Mary, Jan and Phil, and nine grandchildren Quinn, Owen, Candace, Layton, Faith, Sydney, Celeste, Travis and Jack.
Authored by: Michael Gottfredson and John Laub
Rolf Loeber was an intellectual giant and a wonderful man. He was always very congenial and modest, and he helped to advance the careers of many people, including ourselves. In this obituary, it is only possible for us to mention a few of his many accomplishments.
Rolf is particularly famous for masterminding three major longitudinal studies: the Pittsburgh Youth Study, the Pittsburgh Girls Study (the only large-scale US prospective longitudinal study on the development of female delinquency from childhood to early adulthood), and the Developmental Trends Study. These projects led to Rolf's famous developmental pathways theory and to the first ever book on early prospective risk factors for homicide offenders and victims (based on the PYS). Rolf worked together with his wife Magda to build a scientific empire. The Loebers were a wonderful team.
In addition, Rolf masterminded three major federally-funded study groups, on serious and violent offenders, child delinquents, and transitions from juvenile delinquency to adult crime. Remarkably, he also masterminded three sister study groups in the Netherlands. All these study groups had an impact on criminal justice policies.
Rolf and Magda started their careers in the Netherlands in the 1960s, and emigrated to Canada in 1970, where they worked as clinical psychologists and earned their PhD degrees at Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario. They then moved to Oregon in 1979, worked with Gerry Patterson until 1983, and were very important in designing and securing funding for the Oregon Youth Study. In 1984, they moved to the University of Pittsburgh, and set up the Life History Studies Program.
In his criminological career, Rolf was incredibly productive, in publishing over 450 books, articles, and book chapters. He was an amazingly well organized and speedy writer. In addition, he received a total of over $68 million in research funding. He also held a professorial position in the Netherlands from 1997 to 2012. Rolf received numerous awards, including the Life-Time Achievement Award of the ASC Division of Developmental and Life-Course Criminology.
Remarkably, Rolf, together with Magda, had a parallel career studying Irish history, Irish architecture, Irish poets, and Irish fiction. He had over 70 publications and 11 research grants on these topics, and he was elected as an honorary member of the Royal Irish Academy in 2006.
David first met Rolf in late 1979 and stayed with him in Oregon in early 1981 en route to the Society for Life History Research meeting in Monterey, California. Along with Magda, they planned the PYS in 1985 and began it in earnest in 1986. David has been privileged to collaborate with Rolf for more than 30 years on many projects, including the PYS and the three US study groups.
Lia started working with Rolf in 2011, and was introduced to the fantastic longitudinal studies on delinquency. Rolf became a dedicated mentor, an admired colleague and foremost a very close friend. This year (2017), Rolf received funding to start yet another longitudinal study based out of Pittsburgh. We will do our very best to carry Rolf's legacy into the future.
David P. Farrington (Cambridge University) and Lia Ahonen (University of Pittsburgh)
JAMES S.E. OPOLOT
James S. E. Opolot, Ph.D., passed on in March 2017. At the time he joined the zone of collective immortality, he was a Professor and Graduate Faculty of the Administration of Justice in Barbara Jordan-Mickey Leland School of Public Affairs at Texas Southern University (TSU) in Houston, Texas.
Jim Opolot was the first African-born and the first African-American to receive a Ph.D. from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, Illinois in 1976. In his doctoral program, the late Distinguished Professor Elmer H. Johnson was his mentor. Also he received BA and MS degrees at the same university in Applied Criminology and Administration Justice respectively. At the Administration of Justice program in Houston, Professor Opolot showed distinctive and commendable services over the years through his participation in numerous dissertation committees and advisor to the Administration of Justice Club.
James Opolot has been a member of both the American Society of Criminology (ASC) and the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences (ACJS) since 1978. In both international professional organizations, James served in many of their committees. He was among the five Professors: Bob McCormack (deceased), Gordon (deceased), Bill Wakefield, and Obi Ebbe, who founded the International Section of the ACJS. For over two decades, he was presenting papers at every annual meeting of both ASC and ACJS. Furthermore, James was the founding President of the African Criminology and Justice Association (ACJA).
Dr. Opolot made wonderful and memorable contributions to African criminology and justice systems. He published four books, and pivotal in all of them are African criminology and justice systems. Among his books are Criminal Justice and Nation-Building in Africa (University Press of America, 1976) and Police Administration in Africa: Toward Theory and Practice in English-Speaking Countries (University Press of America 2008). He published many articles on Africa and the United States in refereed journals as well as more than 28 book- chapters in different books. Opolot was consulted by UNICRI to write papers for the United Nations Office on Drug and Crime, Vienna, Austria. He carried out Executive Training for Security Directors at Sandals Resort in Jamaica.
On the personal side, Opolot was a team player and friendly. When I was admitted to the Southern Illinois University at Carbondale’s sociology doctoral program in 1977, every sociology graduate student talked good of him. When I finally met him in 1981, at ASC annual meeting, he and I became roommates for more than 10 subsequent ASC and ACJS meetings that followed. His contributions to ASC and ACJS knowledge of African Criminology and Justice are immortal.
In Honor of my husband, Raymond Paternoster – 1952-2017
On March 5, 2017, the world lost one of the greatest fathers, husbands, sons, siblings, teachers, and scholars on the planet. Raymond Paternoster, who was born on February 29, 1952, was taken much too early from so many people who loved him. He died in the arms of his wife, Ronet Bachman, and son, John Bachman-Paternoster, after a nearly 3-month herculean battle against idiopathic pancreatitis.
Ray earned his BA at the University of Delaware in 1972 and a Ph.D. in criminology at Florida State University in 1978. He was a Distinguished Professor (although he would never tell you he held the “Distinguished” honor) in the Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice at the University of Maryland, College Park.
Ray wrote several books and over 200 articles and chapters during his career. He was an internationally-renowned scholar in the area of deterrence/rational choice theory and offender decision-making, and at the forefront of more rigorous empirical testing of theory in general. Beyond these academic achievements, he worked tirelessly to ensure that his scholarship was translated to policy. For example, his pursuit of social justice in the application of the death penalty was relentless. He was the principal investigator on a 2003 Maryland state-commissioned study of the role of race and geography in the application of the death penalty that empirically demonstrated the differential likelihood of receiving a death sentence for white and African American defendants and across jurisdictions. At the request of several organizations including the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, he performed countless statistical analyses and provided expert testimony in court cases across the U.S. on the effects of race and jurisdiction in capital cases. In addition to his influence on the legal and justice systems, he also worked extensively with the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency to help ground in the latest scientific research in their efforts to combat cheating in sports.
Importantly, Ray was just as devoted to teaching as he was to scholarship. He mentored dozens of Ph.D. students and junior colleagues, and delighted in teaching undergraduate courses in statistics. He was a one-of-a-kind professor who took both his scholarship and teaching extremely seriously, but never took himself too seriously. When named and distinguished professorships became an additional rung on the ladder for faculty to achieve in academia and another status symbol on email signatures, he added the moniker, “Emperor of Wyoming,” to his signature in playful protest. He will always remain the only Emperor of Wyoming.
Ray lived each second of his life to the fullest. He loved the Yankees, standup paddle boarding, traveling, backpacking, skiing and walking our dog, Mickey, in the woods. He was also a voracious reader and did the New York Times crossword puzzle every day. He recently learned to love RVing, despite his original perception that it was “camping for wimps.” His newest interest was in cooking, and he insisted that his family call him “Chef” when he was in the kitchen.
Above all, Ray believed the most important job in his life was being a father. He was not only Ronet’s husband and John’s father, he was their best friend. During the last day of Ray’s life, John told him that having the greatest dad in the world for 19 years was better than having a mediocre dad for 50 years. In addition to his wife and son, he left many other family members including three siblings whom he loved very much, Carole Gaughan, Anthony Paternoster, and Kim Paternoster. He was predeceased by his parents Anthony and Florence, as well as his brother John.
There will be celebration of Ray’s life in the summer of 2017. In lieu of flowers, donations in Ray’s honor can be made to the Delaware Food Bank, the National Center for Law and Economic Justice, or the American Civil Liberties Foundation.