Speakers Series

Title: Drugs, Crime, and Social Disorder: Making sense of recent changes in Edmonton’s inner-city

Speakers: Katharina Maier (University of Winnipeg), Carolyn Greene (University of Athabasca), Marta-Marika Urbanik (University of Alberta)

October 16, 2023, 1:00 - 2:00 pm MDT

Abstract: Like other Canadian municipalities, Edmonton’s downtown has been incresingly challenged by concerns over public drug use, crime, socio-economic decline, and social disorder. These concerns are not without warrant; over the past 18 months, Edmonton—in particular, its downtown—has experienced notable increases in crime, visible drug use, encampments, and social disorder. How can we explain these developments? And how should law enforcement, public health agencies, and society at large respond to them? Drawing upon data from a multi-year, multi-site, comparative study on homelessness and drug use, this talk will explore the complexities of making sense of and responding to these challenges, focused on the situation in downtown Edmonton, while drawing comparisons and connections to other Canadian cities.

Title: Settler Research in Indigenous Country

Speaker: Dr. Vicki Chartrand (Bishop's University)

Date: October 27, 2023
Time: 1:00 - 2:00  pm MDT
Abstract: Community-engaged research is an increasingly popular approach to scholarship in the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement and the era of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI). Within modern research paradigms, however, settler research in Indigenous country remains fraught with invasive and exploitive knowledge extraction. In this talk, Dr. Vicki Chartrand thinks through a different approach to settler research to attend to its more extractive features by using collaborative methods and relationality accountability. Drawing on the Unearthing Justices Project (UJP), Dr. Chartand shares ontological insights into community-engaged scholarship and doing research in a “good way.”

Bio: Dr. Vicki Chartrand is a Mama and Associate Professor in the Sociology Department at Bishop’s University, Québec, the traditional and unceded territory of the Abenaki people, and an Adjunct Professor at the University of Ottawa, Criminology Department. She is the founder and director of the Centre for Justice Exchange (https://justiceexchange.ca/) – a research centre for collaborative and community approaches to justice. She has over 25 years of community-engaged research, collaborating with women and children, Indigenous communities, and people in prison. Pm8wzowinnoak Bishop’s kchi adalagakidimek aoak kzalziwiw8banakii aln8baïkik.

Title: Indictment: The Criminal Justice System on Trial

Speaker: Benjamin Perrin & Petra Schulz (UBC Law)

Date: November 27, 2023
Time: Refreshments from Noon - 12:15 pm, Talk 12:15 pm to 1:30 pm MST
#MeToo. Black Lives Matter. Decriminalize Drugs. No More Stolen Sisters. Stop Stranger Attacks. 
Do we need more cops or something else? Harm reduction or treatment? Tougher sentences or prison abolition? The debate about Canada’s criminal justice system has rarely been so polarized – or so in need of fresh ideas.

Join Benjamin Perrin, a UBC law professor, as he shares the latest research on the challenges facing the criminal justice system and fresh ideas for a new transformative justice vision from his upcoming book Indictment: The Criminal Justice System on Trial (University of Toronto Press, October 2023). Indictment has been hailed as “revolutionary” and named one of Indigo’s Most Anticipated Books of Fall 2023.

Title: What happens on the digital street, stays on the digital street? An examination of provocations, threats, and beefs in the online drill culture in Rotterdam

Speaker: Dr. R.A. (Robert) Roks (Associate Professor of Criminology at the Erasmus School of Law, Erasmus University of Rotterdam)


Since 2019, there have been public concerns in the Netherlands about the growing popularity of drill rap, a subgenre of gangsta rap known for its hyperbolic communication of violence in music videos and other social media uploads. Drawing on a netnographic study on Dutch drill in the Dutch city of Rotterdam, we illustrate how the drillers in our study use social media and rap music videos on YouTube and Instagram to insult, challenge, threaten and try to expose their rivals (or ‘opps’). Moreover, we provide an overview of the different types of beefs and provocations we came across in our research, with a focus on the online-offline dynamics in these conflicts. Our results show that the communication of violence is especially visible in a broader online drill rap culture. However, despite the frequent violent posts and provocative online content, the number of actual offline violent incidents as a result of these online expressions was limited. Much of the violence expressed by the Rotterdam drillers on social media can be seen as performative and geared more towards the communication of a violent and dangerous image, rather than an actual willingness to commit physical violence.

Title: The Maravillas: Gangs, Aging, and Mattering in East Los Angeles

Speaker: Dr. Randol Contreras (UC Riverside)

Date: January 26, 2024
Time: 12:30 pm MST

This is a virtual event.
Abstract: Most gang research focuses on young gang members who use violence and style to attain meaning in the world. Researchers, though, have paid little attention to the plight of aging gang members, who increasingly feel irrelevant and forgotten. Thus, this paper will discuss how old-timer Mexican gang members in East Los Angeles try to matter in relationship to both young gang members and what they consider their territorial space. Their attempts often lead to clashes between themselves and youngsters, and to political stances against newcomers, such as immigrants, in their community.

Title: Policing by/for/of Indigenous communities: the state of the art

Speaker: Dr. Beatrice Jauregui (University of Toronto)

Date: February 23, 2024
Time: 12:30 pm MST

This is a virtual event.
Abstract: Critical research on policing of Indigenous communities across Turtle Island/North America has highlighted how state law enforcement bodies at various levels contribute to discriminatory treatment and disproportionate representation of community members in the criminal justice system. Less well-understood are the histories and sociocultural practices of self-administered police organizations within some of these communities. These organizations may be at once a greatly desired support systems and harbingers of sovereignty and self-governance, but also a source of local controversy and political conflict. Drawing on fieldwork with police in Kahnawà:ke and Ahkwesáhsne, and ongoing engagements with advocacy groups like the First Nations Chiefs of Police Association (FNCPA), this talk examines some of the tensions inhering in Indigenous policing, and aims to shed light on the stakes of further developing and supporting these and other self-administered institutions of criminal justice in Indigenous communities.

Title: School Violence in America: A Statewide Study on Sources, Consequences, and Policy Responses

Speaker: Dr. Jillian Turanovic (FSU)

Date: March 29, 2024
Time: 12"30 pm MDT

This is a virtual event.
Abstract: School violence has become a defining feature of life in America. Despite increased research and discourse, it remains unclear how to best prevent school violence and mitigate its impacts. In this talk, I will showcase preliminary findings from a large mixed-methods research project, funded by the National Institute of Justice, that seeks to better understand the sources, consequences, and policy responses to violence in American schools. Drawing from over a decade’s worth of data on arrestees, schools, and neighborhoods in Florida, and qualitative interviews with school staff, school resource officers, juvenile justice personnel, and policymakers throughout the state, this study seeks to shed light on: (1) the extent to which the sources of school violence are unique from community violence, (2) the differential impacts of violence on school learning environments, and (3) the effectiveness of policies that have been implemented to address violence in Florida schools.

Title: TBA

Speaker: Dr. Amanda Butler (SFU)

Date: April 26, 2024
Time: 1:00 pm MDT

This is a hybrid event.

Title: Assessing Two Strategies for Ameliorating Racial/Ethnic Disparities in Cumulative Case Outcomes

Speaker: Dr. Ojmarrh Mitchell (University of California Irvine)

Date: May 24, 2024
Time: TBD

Bio: Ojmarrh Mitchell is a professor in the Criminology, Law and Society department at the University of California Irvine. Professor Mitchell earned his Ph.D. in Criminology and Criminal Justice from the University of Maryland with a doctoral minor in Measurement, Statistics, and Evaluation. His research interests center on criminal justice policy, particularly in the areas of drug control, sentencing and corrections, and racial fairness in the criminal justice system. Most recently, Dr. Mitchell has been investigating prosecutorial discretion and its influence on case processing, case outcomes, and racial disparities. For his research on racial and ethnic issues in the criminal justice system, he received the Western Society of Criminology’s W.E.B. Du Bois and NIJ’s W.E.B. Du Bois awards. Dr. Mitchell has served in numerous advisory roles, including the U.S. Department of Justice’s Science Advisory Board, New York City’s Pretrial Research Advisory Council, Philadelphia’s Pretrial Reform Advisory Council, and the American Society of Criminology’s Executive Board.
Abstract: Racial and ethnic disparities in sentencing outcomes long have been documented by empirical research. Prevailing solutions to these inequities typically have aimed at reducing the discretionary powers of court actors as means of promoting increased fairness in court case outcomes. Yet, discretion reduction has had  limited long-term success in ameliorating inequities in criminal courts. In this research, we assess the effectiveness of two strategies touted as potential solutions to racial/ethnic inequities in court outcomes; namely, 1) employing racially diverse court workgroups, and 2) electing “progressive” chief prosecutors. Further, unlike the vast majority of existing research that examines only sentencing outcomes—which are likely a biased subsample of all cases—we examine all case outcomes from arrest to disposition. We find that one of the two strategies is highly effective in reducing disparities but the other has no discernible effect on case outcomes.