Some of these individuals participated in the ASC Oral History Project. For more information, please go to the Oral History Project page.
Jo Dixon, 70, passed away unexpectedly, on March 7, 2020, at her home in Estero, FL. A professor of sociology at New York University until her retirement last year, Jo received a BA in sociology at the University of North Carolina, Greensborough in 1972, her MA in sociology at Emory University in 1981, and her PhD in sociology at Indiana University in 1989. Jo was an accomplished and highly regarded scholar and a deeply committed teacher and mentor. Her studies on criminal sentencing, domestic violence policies and practices, responses to sexual violence, gender stratification in the legal profession, and other topics were published in the top journals of her field including Law and Society Review, the American Journal of Sociology, Social Problems, and Criminology and Public Policy.
At the time of her death, Jo was completing a comparative justice project that examined the role of state building in efforts by elites to select transitional justice tools capable of attaining the often-contradictory goals of justice and state building. Her research is widely cited and will have a lasting effect on sociological and criminological scholarship for years to come.
Jo valued teaching and mentoring. She was recognized for her teaching by New York University in 1999, when she was awarded NYU’s Distinguished Teaching Award, and in 1992, when she was awarded NYU’s Golden Dozen Teaching Award. She directed NYU’s interdisciplinary Institute for Law and Society and its Law and Society graduate program for many years. Jo was an excellent mentor of graduate students. Several of her Ph.D. students received dissertation awards from the National Science Foundation or the National Institute of Justice, and her Ph.D. students have gone on to obtain faculty positions at prestigious universities and have themselves made important contributions to the discipline. Jo has also influenced universities around the world, teaching or conducting research at the University of Vienna and at NYU’s programs in Prague and Abu Dhabi.
Jo was an active member of several professional associations, having served as a member of the Board of Trustees of the Law and Society Association, organizer of multiple programs for the American Society of Criminology, and council member of the Law and Society Section of the American Sociological Association. She also served on the editorial board of the American Sociological Review, Law and Society Review, and Law and Social Inquiry.
Jo had an inspiring sense of adventure and curiosity. She was beloved by her family and friends, maintaining strong, cherished bonds with friends for decades. She had a wonderful laugh, cheered for her friends’ successes and comforted them at times of sadness and loss.
Jo was born in Dunn, North Carolina on November 20, 1949. Her parents were Wallace and Annie Laurie Dixon. She is survived by her loving husband, Mari C. Engracia, her brother Wallace (Dana) Dixon, sisters-in-law Danna Sue Dixon and Ann Tart Dixon, as well her stepchildren, Jennifer, Judith and Jay and many nieces and nephews. She was predeceased by her parents and her brothers EB Dixon and David Dixon. Memorial contributions can be made to the American Tinnitus Association.
HAROLD G. GRASMICK
Harold G. Grasmick, Professor Emeritus of the Department of Sociology at the University of Oklahoma and one of criminology's great minds, left our world on April 4, 2020. Harold and his co-authors, Charles Tittle, Bob Bursik and Bruce Arneklev (Grasmick et al. 1993), developed a 24-item attitudinal scale based upon their interpretation of Gottfredson and Hirschi's (1990) conceptual definition of self-control. This measure, known as the Grasmick Scale, continues to be used widely in tests of Gottfredson and Hirschi's theory. This publication cemented Harold's national reputation as a scholar and renowned criminologist. Harold mentored and published research with many students. Over the course of his career, Harold published a book, 54 research articles, and has been cited over 13,500 times. At the University of Oklahoma, Harold was recognized for his achievements with several awards, including the David Ross Boyd Professorship, a Presidential Professorship, and the Kinney-Sugg Award for Outstanding Professor.
Harold served as Chair of the OU Sociology Department from 1982 to 1988, which was a challenging time institutionally as OU was transforming to a national-level university with an emphasis on research. At that time, there were two units, Sociology A and Sociology 1, and new faculty lines were offered in only the research unit. Harold was hired to teach and lead in research, and as part of this, he developed the Oklahoma City Survey, which provided research and statistical training for students. His focus on the creation of knowledge through research also positioned the department to be approved by the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education to grant doctoral degrees. This new teaching style on the graduate level, which focused on learning through research, allowed students to become active participants in the profession through their research, conference presentations, and publications.
Harold’s research was about illegal behavior and norm violations in general, particularly guilt, shame and embarrassment, and their parallels to legal or formal sanctions. Much of his work in the 1990s focused on neighborhoods, social control, and crime, including his book co-authored with Robert J. Bursik, Neighborhoods and Crime: The Dimensions of Effective Community Control. Inspired by the Oklahoma context, Harold noticed that religion was influential to society, and he began to focus his research on how religion shaped people’s attitudes towards punishment, and he published several articles in this area.
Harold was a supportive colleague and dear friend. One colleague remarked, “His presence was huge and unforgettable. He was everything you could ever want in a professor. He was brilliant, accomplished, funny, and just a little bit naughty.” Harold deeply cared for his students, and he was a friend of the OU Department of Sociology. Upon his retirement, he helped establish a fund to support graduate students in mentored research during the summer. As he described it, it was a way to keep our students busy with research and away from working in the bars next to campus. Through the Grasmick Summer Fellowships, Harold’s devotion to students and passion for the creation of research continue.
Harold is remembered as a loving grandfather, father and son and will be missed by many. He is survived by his son Jacob, daughter-in-law Kate and grandson Atlas, of Denver, Colorado.
Loretta Bass, University of Oklahoma; Trina Hope, University of Oklahoma
JAMES B. JACOBS
James B. Jacobs, who was Warren E. Burger Professor of Constitutional Law and the Courts at New York University – and a proud Fellow of the ASC – died on 19th March 2020 from complications of ALS.
Jim was one of America’s most prolific, wide-ranging, and important criminal law scholars. A researcher of astonishing energy and ambition, he achieved world-wide renown as a leading authority in a dozen different specialties, from imprisonment and criminal records to corruption and organized crime, by way of gun control, drunk driving, and hate crime. Academic audiences in Asia, Europe, and Africa have marveled at his grasp of detail, his piercing practical insight, and his contrarian disregard of conventional wisdom. As a criminologist and legal scholar, he stood at the pinnacle of academic achievement and distinction.
Born in Bronxville in 1947, the son of a lawyer and a home-maker, Jim grew up in Mount Vernon and attended local public school. He went on to graduate from Johns Hopkins with a BA in Sociology and from the University of Chicago with a JD and a Sociology Ph.D.. His doctoral dissertation was a tour de force that combined prison ethnography and organizational sociology with ‘law and society’ and was published in 1977 as Stateville: The Penitentiary in Mass Society – a classic that has been in print ever since.
Jim began his career at Cornell where he was jointly appointed in Law and Sociology before moving to NYU School of Law in 1982. He held visiting appointments at Columbia Law School, University of Capetown, and University of Leuven, as well as a J.S. Guggenheim Fellowship. At NYU, Jim taught criminal law, criminal procedure, and federal criminal law, and a variety of other topics including the regulation of vice, guns, and cybercrime. He was a devoted institutional citizen who did more than anyone to make NYU a leading center of criminal law and criminal justice scholarship. For three decades and more he was, as a colleague remarked, “the sun around which New York’s criminal justice community orbited.”
In 1983, Jim established, and became the Director of, the Center for Research in Crime and Justice at NYU Law School. In the decades that followed, Jim created and ran the Center’s monthly Colloquium series and weekly Criminal Law Seminars, both of which brought together policymakers, judges, prosecutors, and practitioners with academics to create a unique criminal law community, centered in NYC but stretching across the globe. To his fellow professors at NYU Law, Jim was the quintessential colleague, whose relaxed, unpretentious demeanor and breezy good cheer made them happy to belong to the same institution. To students and entry-level academics, he was the supportive, challenging mentor to whom many of them owe their careers. And to visitors, whoever they were and wherever they were from, he was the open-handed host, issuing invitations, drawing them in, connecting them to a vibrant intellectual community here at the heart of New York City.
Let me say a little about the influences and ideas that Jim brought to bear in his astonishing oeuvre – which included 17 books and more than one hundred scholarly articles.
Jim’s early works bear the unmistakeable stamp of his training at Hopkins and Chicago and the world-class mentors he found there. Without Norval Morris, there would be no Stateville. Not because of Norval’s ideas – the intellectual influence of Edward Shils is more prominent in the book – but because it was Norval who first dispatched Jim to do research in the Illinois prisons and taught him the importance of realism and pragmatism in the pursuit of the ideal. And without Morris Janowitz, it is unlikely that Jim would have written two books on the socio-legal aspects of the military (though perhaps Jim’s own military service provided insights that Janowitz helped him develop into a sociological thesis.)
Jim went on to become a leading authority on both of these topics. But his most distinctive writing, and his characteristic intellectual voice, is most apparent not in these books, nor even in the books on organized crime. Jim’s signature style is, I think, most fully on display in the series of books he wrote on the ironies of American social policy. To explain what I mean, let me distinguish three distinct ‘genres’ that, I would suggest, together constitute Jim’s body of published work.
First genre: the work on prisons and imprisonment.The leading works here are Stateville: The Penitentiary in Mass Society; Guard Unions and the Future of Prisons; and Perspectives on Prisons and Imprisonment. And alongside these books there are dozens of articles: including classics such as “Sentencing by Prison Personnel” in UCLA Law Review (1983) – an unmatched tour de force on a topic that was, before Jim wrote it up, completely ignored.
These prison publications are notable for their insiders’ view and their up-close understanding. But Jim’s most original contribution is a sociological one: it is his insistence on situating imprisonment within the large-scale changes taking place in American society and revealing the surprising effects these have had on the inner life of the prison.
Second genre: the work on Organized Crime and Racketeering.This section of the collected works consists of 5 books that form a remarkable series – perhaps the most sustained effort to understand racketeering ever undertaken by a single scholar. These organized crime books mostly tell quite positive stories, describing prosecutions that worked; industries that have been cleaned up; and labor unions that have been purged of corruption. If I remind you of some of their titles you’ll see what I mean: Breaking the Devil’s Pact; Gotham Unbound; Busting the Mob; and Organized Crime and its Containment
Third genre:his work on “the ironies of American social policy”If the study of organized crime finds Jim in an optimistic mood, this third genre is much more sardonic in tone. I think of these books as constituting the “Jacobean studies in skepticism.”Each of these contrarian books takes a policy reform that has been universally embraced by liberals and by the legal academy – more or less the same thing, Jim would have said – and proceeds to show, in loving detail, why these reforms backfire. Books in this group include: Can Gun Control Work?; The Pursuit of Absolute Integrity; and Hate Crimes: Criminal Law and Identity Politics. And there are several articles that follow a similar formula, dousing liberal ideas with large quantities of cold water: "Should Hate Be a Crime?" "Can We Ever Clean Up the Javits Center?" and “Will New York’s Safe Act Make Us Safer?” While Jim is best known for his books on prisons; the Mafia; and criminal records I believe that his “studies in skepticism” are the ones that best express his distinctive authorial voice and his personal world-view.
Isaiah Berlin famously said that there were two kinds of writers: foxes (who know many things) and hedgehogs (who know one big thing). In these terms, Jim was undoubtedly a fox. He certainly didn’t believe in “one big thing.” He was a painstaking empiricist and a hard-headed realist who abjured all forms of dogma and who was allergic to any kind of grand theory. As a result, Jim’s thinking was always interestingly at odds with the conventional wisdom.
As a colleague, Jim was tough-minded, and opinionated, and often contrarian. He was also ever-present: these 17 books didn’t write themselves – and it was clear that he relied enormously on his remarkable wife Jan Sweeney, whom he adored, and who enabled his academic work, as well as their family and cultural lives, while holding down an academic job of her own. As an intellectual, Jim was beholden to no one: there was no party line; no big theory; no ideological purity. His attention was always trained on the real world, on facts and practices, and on what criminal justice actors were actually thinking and doing.
Jim’s work, did, of course, contain certain working assumptions. These a prioris include: That not all problems are solvable; That more government is usually not the best solution; That problems like crime and corruption are endemic and have to be regulated; That zealous regulation is liable to produce its own problems; That the role of organized crime in the history of the nation has never been fully recognized. But the lesson that Jim’s work – and his life – told over and over again, was that we need to have faith in people, to look for their positive virtues, and to work together to celebrate our common interests and work to make the world a better place.
Jim was a world-renowned academic and a prolific author of well-researched, book-length monographs – the last of which, a study of New York gun control, appeared late last year. But among those who knew him – and there are hundreds and hundreds of us – Jim will mostly be remembered for his warmth, his humor, and his humanity. Above all, he will be remembered for his ability to bring people together in ways that enhanced their lives.
Astonishingly, given his productivity as a scholar, Jim was also renowned for the remarkable extent of his “hinterland” – the busy, adventurous, fun-filled life that somehow co-existed with his non-stop academic activity. Jim was an avid skier, an aficionado of the arts, a Yankees fan, a dog-lover, a NYC boulevardier, a loving husband, father, and grandfather to Jan, Tom, Sophi, and his four young granddaughters – and this too would be absolutely essential to any accounting of who Jim was and of the life he led.
He had an amazing gift for forming and sustaining friendships. He cared for people. He wanted to know how they are. He never forgot to call, to email, to stay in touch – sometimes over decades and great distances. And, with a twinkle in his eye and something funny or interesting or contrarian to say, he would make us laugh, and make us think, and make us better. Quite simply, Jim enriched the lives of everyone around him. And those of us who were privileged to count ourselves as friends of this distinguished colleague, illustrious scholar, and altogether remarkable man long cherish his memory and smile when we hear his name mentioned – as it will certainly be for decades to come.
David Garland, NYU.
Nicholas Kittrie passed away in December at the age of 93. He served as the President of the American Society of Criminology in 1975. A professor at American University's Washington College of Law, Dr. Kittrie was the College's longest-tenured faculty member, and taught for more than 50 years. See below for a more detailed obituary.
MICHAEL J. LEIBER
Michael J. Leiber’s (1956-2020) friends and colleagues are sad to announce his untimely passing. Mike should be best remembered for his desire to see the world become a better, fairer, and more equitable place. He believed in advancing knowledge to correct the many challenging social ills in society, and this concern for social justice guided his career. Mike grew up in and cherished his home town, Milwaukee. He earned his BA from Marquette University, and then entered the MA program at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. He transferred to The University at Albany, where he earned his MA and Ph.D. He held academic positions at the University of Northern Iowa (1989-2005), Virginia Commonwealth (2005-2010), and the University of South Florida (2010-2020), where he also served as department chair (2011-2019). His research focused primarily on juvenile justice and disproportionate minority contact with the criminal justice system. He authored over 100 publications, including 76 articles and book chapters, and more than two-dozen government reports, and received more than $700k in grants and contracts. Mike was the recipient of several scholarly awards of which he was proud, including those from the Division of Minorities and Women (Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences), a lifetime achievement award from the Division on People of Color and Crime (American Society of Criminology), the W. E. B. Du Bois Award from the Western Society of Criminology, and a Distinguished Alumni Award from the University at Albany, among others. He served as editor of the Journal of Crime and Justice, and more recently, Justice Quarterly. He was often an invited speaker at programs and sessions sponsored by the Office of Juvenile Justice & Delinquency Prevention, Washington, D.C. Many knew Mike in a variety of capacities: distinguished scholar, colleague, mentor, and friend. In his personal life, he was a devoted animal lover to his multiple cats and “fidos.” An avid sports fan, he loved his Green Bay Packers, along with the Milwaukee Brewers and Bucks, and the Wisconsin Badgers. He maintained a pristine early 1970s Alfa Romeo Spider. He is survived by his beloved wife of eight years, Lana. Condolences may be sent to her at: 4946 Ebensburg Drive, Tampa, Florida, 33647.
(October 20,1931-March 14, 2020) Our esteemed, longtime colleague and friend, Ted Palmer, passed away peacefully on March 14, 2020. Ted’s research and legacy are classic to the field of criminology and corrections. His contributions include being one of the “firsts” to implement a randomized trial in a juvenile justice setting and pioneering the identification of programmatic factors that affect the quality of interventions. In his 2004 presidential address to the ASC, Francis Cullen recognized Ted as one of the 12 people who “saved correctional rehabilitation.” Ted was later recognized by the ASC Academy of Experimental Criminology which awarded him the 2011 Joan McCord Award.
As lead researcher for the California Youth Authority and the California Department of Corrections during the 1960s and 1970s, Ted produced a remarkable body of research. One of his most well-know projects, the Community Treatment Project, utilized a rigorous experimental design, amassed a wealth of knowledge about juvenile offenders and developed strategies for identifying and addressing their differential needs. Throughout his career and in retirement, Ted addressed the issue of correctional effectiveness. Most notably, he countered a 1974 article in which Robert Martinson reviewed 231 correctional program evaluations and concluded that no therapeutic model worked to reduce youth recidivism. Ted meticulously reanalyzed Martinson’s data and reported that 48% of the 231 studies actually showed positive or partially positive results and that many programs had worked for some offenders and not others.
In retirement, Ted was a regular attendee of the ASC meetings. He befriended and advised many younger scholars. Although he never pursued a career in academe, he was a precious mentor who offered wise and gentle counsel. He was regularly sought after as a dinner companion and valued friend. In 2005, Ted and a former colleague established the Marguerite Q. Warren and Ted B. Palmer Differential Intervention Award, an award offered through the ASC Division of Corrections and Sentencing. Ted helped to insure the legacy or rigorous research and instilled in many the value of research in action settings and collaboration with front line agencies.
Friends and colleagues were fascinated by Ted’s life. He was born in 1931, after his parents, Mary Korn and Jack Puchalski, left Poland to escape economic hardship and rising antisemitism. Ted is a veteran of the Korean War where he served as an Army medic providing mental health services to soldiers suffering from “shell shock” (PTSD). He later received his doctorate degree in psychology from the University of Southern California. He was multilingual and an avid student of astronomy and art. In his 70s and 80s, Ted pursued a rigorous travel agenda, which included long trips to such exotic places as the South Pacific Islands, the Great Wall of China, Mongolia, Antarctica, India, Nepal, and Tibet. At the time of his death, he was planning another trip to Southeast Asia which included paragliding in the Seychelles and a stop in Brazil on the way home.
Ted’s wife, Mildred, passed away in 2019. He is survived by a daughter, Cara, and a son and daughter-in-law, Clay and Jocelyn.
We were privileged to know you, Ted,
Pat Van Voorhis, Francis Cullen, Fay Taxman, Phil Harris, and Kathleen Heide
CINDY J. SMITH
Cindy J. Smith, past chair of the Division of International Criminology, past Secretary/Treasurer of the Division on Corrections and Sentencing, and most recently, Director of the United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute (UNICRI), passed away January 18, after courageously battling cancer.
Cindy was born in Fostoria, Ohio. She held a Ph.D. in Social Ecology from the University of California Irvine, a M.S. in Education Administration from the National University, Irvine, a M.S. in Justice from American University and a B.A. from Baldwin Wallace College.
She began her career at the University of Baltimore, as Associate Professor and Director of the Master’s in Criminal Justice Program (2000-2005). As a first-generation university student, she mentored others like her as well as international students, particularly Turkish National Police managers. Intrigued by Turkey, she enjoyed a year there as a Fulbright Senior Researcher. She shifted smoothly between the academy and policy work, serving as Chief of the International Center at NIJ (2005-2008), Associate Professor at the University of Baltimore (2008-2010), Lead Foreign Affairs Officer at the Department of State (2011-2012), and Senior Coordinator for International Programs in the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons at the U.S. Department of State (2012-2015). In 2015, the Secretary-General of the U.N. appointed her Director of UNICRI, the first woman to serve in this capacity. She retired from this post in 2018.
Her research covered a wide range of topics, including juvenile justice, corrections and human trafficking. She was instrumental in convincing international policymakers to use criminological knowledge to better guide their work.
Cindy’s friends remember her as unfailingly positive and a force to be reckoned with. She thought the world was flawed, but woke up every day asking herself, “what can I do about it?” She started “saving the world” one child as at a time by serving as a foster mother and adopting children. Frustrated that she could not do enough, she pursued her doctorate so that she could do more. Ultimately she set her sights on helping the whole world and joined the U.N. She was humble, energetic, and unforgettable. Her stories were legend and made us laugh until we cried. We will miss her greatly.
She is survived by her husband Rick Smith, seven children, 16 grandchildren and 5 great grandchildren.
Rosemary Barberet, John Jay College of Criminal Justice
Joanne Savage, Illinois State University
Jodi Lane, University of Florida
PAUL E. TRACY, JR.
Paul E. Tracy, Jr. passed away unexpectedly on January 5, 2020, shortly after retiring from the University of Massachusetts Lowell where he served as professor and graduate director for the School of Criminology and Justice Studies for 8 years. Paul’s long and successful career also included serving on the faculties and impacting the lives of many students at the University of Texas at Dallas, Northeastern University, and the University of Pennsylvania.
Paul’s earned his B.A. from Rhode Island College and his Ph.D. in 1978 in Sociology from the University of Pennsylvania. He was Senior Research Associate for the Criminal Justice Program Evaluation Center at the Mitre Corporation, then returned to Penn as a faculty member to collaborate with his mentor, Marvin Wolfgang, becoming Director of the Graduate Program in Criminology and part of the move from Arts & Sciences to Wharton. He served as Associate Director of the Sellin Center for Criminology & Criminal Law, a position that enabled him to help assure that the 1958 Philadelphia Birth Cohort study was able to include the follow up to age 26 for those 27,160 subjects. In 1985, Paul moved to be close to family and taught at Northeastern for 7 years, leaving to help establish a crime and justice program at the University of Texas at Dallas, where he worked for 19 years, before returning to his favorite part of the country and joining the Lowell faculty.
A skilled methodologist and staunch advocate for improving criminal justice policies, Paul’s scholarly contributions focused on measurement and analysis of criminal careers over the life course, juvenile justice, drug prohibition, prisoner re-entry, and capital punishment. He was author or co-author of eight books, numerous articles and technical reports. He also served as Editor-in-Chief of Crime & Delinquency for 15 years. His scholarship was recognized by the Western Society of Criminology President’s Award in 2003.
A beloved teacher of courses at all levels, he served on or directed nearly 40 dissertations. Paul’s outstanding teaching was accorded Distinguished Teaching Awards by both Penn and Northeastern, the Social Science Teaching Award by UT-Dallas, and the Chancellor’s Outstanding Teaching Award by the University of Texas Systems.
Paul was a proud father, husband, and patriot. He cared about veterans, especially those who had served in Vietnam, as he had. He loved fast cars, spicy food, and practicing the martial arts, at which he was an expert. He will be missed by many.
Submitted by Kimberly Kempf-Leonard