Tuesday, October 3, 2017

New CMIT Research Director Focuses on Partnerships

As the new Research Director at the Correctional Management Institute of Texas (CMIT), Erin Orrick wants to serve as a resource for correctional agencies in Texas and across the country.

“CMIT serves a valuable role in assisting the College of Criminal Justice fulfill its mandate for providing technical assistance to agencies and the community, through its work with corrections agencies and as a resource for best practices,” said Orrick, an assistant professor in the Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology. “My goal for the Research Division is to continue promoting the research of our faculty to agency partners, to encourage mutual working relationships with agencies to develop evidence-based practices, and be a key resource for disseminating this knowledge to inform policy and practice.”

The College of Criminal Justice at Sam Houston State University has built a strong program to assist agencies in community and institutional programs. The faculty at College are actively involved in studies on key issues in the field and are ready to partner with agencies to answer critical questions to improve practices.

“We are excited that Dr. Erin Orrick has accepted to serve as our Research Director,” said Doug Dretke, Executive Director of CMIT. “She brings exceptional credentials, a passion for research-informed practice, and strong initiative to enhance our relationships with the corrections professionals we serve and the faculty of our College of Criminal Justice. CMIT works across the broad spectrum of corrections and the criminal justice arena within the state of Texas, as well as nationally and internationally, and is active in facilitating research interests and needs serving as a conduit between practitioners and research faculty.”

Among the expertise available at the College are:

  • Assistant Professor Brandy L. Blasko specializes in institutional and community corrections, the administration of justice, and the intersection of psychology and criminal justice. Most recently, her research includes projects on the conditions of confinement, the exercise of the discretion in decision-making by prison staff and wardens, prisoners suicides, and the therapeutic alliance in the context of sexual offender treatment
  • Assistant Professor H. Daniel Butler studies institutional and community corrections. His most recent work focuses on the use and implementation of restrictive housing and factors related to correctional officer stress, exhaustion and burnout
  • Associate Professor Travis Franklin focuses on the prosecution and sentencing of state and federal offenders. His recent research examines the influence of race, ethnicity, national origin and other extralegal factors on charging and sentencing outcomes in US district courts
  • Associate Professor Lisa Muftić evaluates the effectiveness of correctional programs. Most recently, she serves as research partner on a Bureau of Justice Assistance-funded smart prosecution program for individuals charged with misdemeanor prostitution (sellers) in Harris County. In addition to her work with specialty courts, she has also examined the effectiveness of residential substance abuse treatment in Georgia and alternative sanctions for low-level offenders in North Dakota
  • Assistant Professor Erin Orrick specializes in the field of corrections, focusing on contemporary issues, such as prisoner reentry and recidivism as well as criminal careers and criminal justice policy. Her recent work focuses on examining the impact of reentry experience on recidivism and the influence of incarceration on criminal careers over the life course
  • Assistant Professor Melinda Tasca focuses on corrections and the consequences of incarceration for children, inmates, and families as well as disparities in the criminal justice system. She has extensive experience in collaborating with correctional agencies and in studying vulnerable and diverse family systems
  • Assistant Professor Elisa Toman studies theories of punishment, trends in criminal sentencing, and inmates' experiences with the corrections system

In addition to faculty, the College employs graduate research assistants to aid on projects and one Ph.D. student, Nicole Niebuhr, is dedicated to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice to pursue issues of importance to that agency. The College also offers the Corrections System Research Lab, which exposes graduate and undergraduate students to research practices and trains young scholars for the field. The lab currently works with the Montgomery County Jail and the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections on such diverse issues as mental health, suicide, and substance abuse.

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