Three from the School of Criminal Justice at Rutgers University in Newark Receive National Honors

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Constance  Hassett-Walker, Patrice K. Morris, and Eric Piza from the School of Criminal Justice at Rutgers University in Newark (SCJ) have expanded their curricula vitae to include noteworthy awards they received for their respective research in the field of criminology.

Dr. Constance Hassett-Walker culminated her doctoral studies at SCJ with a Social Issues Dissertation Award from the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues for her research on delinquency among African-American youths. Shifting her focus from African Americans residing in poor neighborhoods to middle-class blacks living in affluent communities, Hassett-Walker’s research revealed that despite improving socioeconomic status, young middle-class African Americans are nearly as much at risk to engage in criminal activity as economically-disadvantaged blacks of comparable ages. Based on her findings, which she published in the book Black Middle Class Delinquents (LFB Scholarly Publishing, 2009), Hassett-Walker ultimately concluded that the degree of association with delinquent peers is a better predictor of criminal behavior among middle-class black teenagers and young adults than parenting variables.

Hassett-Walker, a resident of North Plainfield, New Jersey, earned her bachelor’s degree in French from Rutgers College, master’s degree in public administration from New York University, and master’s and doctoral degrees in criminal justice from SCJ. She is interested in issues related to race, class, crime and violence, and her research has been published in Justice Research and Policy, the Journal of Criminal Justice, the Journal of School Violence, and the Journal of Interpersonal Violence. Hassett-Walker is an assistant professor of criminal justice at Kean University in Union, New Jersey, where she recently received the university’s President’s Research Initiative Award.


The recipient of the Homicide Research Working Group’s Richard Block Award for her outstanding research on homicide, Dr. Patrice K. Morris’s dissertation investigated the neighborhood factors associated with high levels of homicide across urban communities in the country of Jamaica. Using homicide, census and electoral data, the results of Morris’s research suggest that political civic engagement and poverty are most salient in explaining lethal violence in urban Jamaica. Unlike studies conducted in advanced industrialized countries such as the United States, in urban Jamaica homicides occur much more frequently in politically-organized neighborhoods with high levels of informal social control and social cohesion.

 A native of Montego Bay, Jamaica, Morris holds a baccalaureate degree in sociology and psychology from The University of the West Indies, Mona Campus, Jamaica, and master and doctoral degrees from SCJ. Her research focuses on violence in developing countries, institutional and community corrections, and community structures’ impact on crime.


Eric Piza, a full-time specialist in crime mapping and spatial analysis for the Newark Police Department and a doctoral student at SCJ in Newark, received the 2010 Association of Doctoral Programs in Criminology and Criminal Justice (ADPCCJ) Research Award for his study of Newark’s video surveillance system. Piza’s research identifies the optimal placement of video cameras, evaluates police action in response to video detections of crime vis-à-vis 9-1-1calls for service, and ascertains the effectiveness of a dedicated team of patrol units dispatched by surveillance operators. The results of his research will help practitioners determine how best to deploy or reconfigure video surveillance systems.

A resident of Newark, New Jersey, Piza earned his associate’s degree in psychology and bachelor’s and master’s degrees in criminal justice from Rutgers University in Newark. His research interests include crime mapping, spatial analysis, intelligence-led policing, environmental criminology, criminal justice policy, and the integration of academic research and police practice. Piza recently became an instructor for the International Association of Crime Analysts and this fall will teach a five-day, crime-mapping course to police agencies at Rutgers University in Newark.

ADPCCJ is a professional organization that promotes research in crime and justice and seeks to increase the visibility and recognition of doctoral study in crime and justice. Todd Clear, dean of SCJ, has served as president since 1998.


The School of Criminal Justice at Rutgers University in Newark, New Jersey (SCJ), is a major international center for scholarly research on all aspects of policing, delinquency, crime, and criminal justice administration. Its research breadth provides a basis for its educational programs that also fulfill public service obligations by helping to address the needs of criminal justice agencies within the city, state, nation, and world. SCJ’s faculty includes world-renowned scholars in the field, and U.S. News & World Report ranks the SCJ doctoral program in criminology seventh in the nation. Setting the standard for doctoral training, SCJ’s graduates are highly sought after by universities recruiting new faculty. All of SCJ’s degree programs provide classroom and research opportunities that prepare students for positions in research, teaching, and criminal justice system management and policymaking. For more information about SCJ, please visit