Professor Spohn to receive Defining Edge Research Award
Professor Cassia Spohn's work in the area of race, sentencing and the courts earns Defining Edge Award for Research in Social Sciences from Arizona State University.
Cassia Spohn, Foundation professor and director of the doctoral program at the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice at Arizona State University, will receive the 2013 Defining Edge Award for Research in Social Sciences at an ASU faculty awards ceremony in April.
"I am honored to have been selected for this prestigious award," said Spohn. "I want to thank Scott Decker for nominating me and my ASU colleagues for selecting me."
The award is given to a professor who has made a specific contribution over the last decade that meets the highest standards of the discipline or profession.
“Arizona State boasts some of the most talented, innovative scholars in the country,” said Jonathan Koppell, Dean of the ASU College of Public Programs. ”So distinguishing yourself as a scholar here is an impressive accomplishment. We are privileged as a college to have Dr. Spohn as a colleague and feel fortunate that our students have an opportunity to learn from and work with the best.”
In his nomination of Spohn, School of Criminology and Criminal Justice director Scott Decker described her as "a pivotal figure in two research areas of great importance to law, social sciences and contemporary society: the intersection of race, crime and justice and sentencing by criminal courts."
Decker said Spohn's work is even more significant in light of recent challenges to the legitimacy and fairness of federal sentencing guidelines that disproportionately affected African-American defendants. Decker noted that Spohn's research in sentencing and judicial decision-making not only sets the agenda for understanding key areas of criminal justice, but also frames the research agenda for future scholarship.
"She has merged high quality methodological tools with astute theoretical underpinnings in a way that has implications for policy and theory," wrote Decker. "This is a rare accomplishment, and high praise for scholarship that examines the criminal justice system. This is in part why her work has been cited by the United States Supreme Court in its consideration of sentencing bias."
"Dr. Spohn has derived novel approaches to understand complex problems with real-world consequences," Koppell said. "Her findings are not only admired by academics but informed critical policy and court decisions."
Spohn has taught at the ASU School of Criminology and Criminal Justice since 2006. She previously taught at the University of Nebraska at Omaha for almost 30 years, including as a professor, director of the graduate program, vice-chair, and chair of the Department of Criminal Justice and served a decade as a faculty member in the Goodrich Scholarship program, a national model of honors education. The University of Nebraska recognized Spohn in 1999 with an award for Outstanding Research and Creativity. She was given the W.E.B DuBois award from the Western Society of Criminology (WSC) in 2004 for her contributions to the field based on her research on race/ethnicity. WSC also named her a Fellow in 2010.
"Her work has been at the forefront of work that has pioneered new methods and approaches to better understanding how and why judges make decisions," said Decker in his nomination letter of Spohn. "The work has informed a generation of research and policy on race, gender and sentencing practices."
A book Spohn co-authored, The Color of Justice, is the leading book on Race and Crime. She has written more than 20 book chapters and more than 100 refereed articles published in leading academic journals, including Criminology, Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency, Criminal Law Bulletin, and Crime and Delinquency, and Justice Quarterly. Spohn's work has also been published in law reviews, including the Albany Law Review, Criminal Law Bulletin and Berkeley Journal of Criminal Law. She is the editor of Justice Quarterly, sponsored by the Academy of Criminal Justice Science.
Spohn is also a sought after guest speaker. She recently lectured on the effects of race and ethnicity on sentencing and punishment at the Thomas Goode Jones School of Law in Montgomery, Ala. Spohn also presented recent research findings at the annual meeting of the Western Society of Criminology in February.
“She is highly regarded among criminologists, political scientists and legal scholars, as attested by her frequent lectures around the country and the world,” said Decker. “In 2012, she lectured in Italy, Israel and Spain.”