Monday, March 2, 2015

Prof. Brandeis interviewed by Alaska Dispatch News about new marijuana law and the "Ravin Doctrine"

Prof. Jason Brandeis, J.D., Legal Studies faculty in the Justice Center, was interviewed for an article in the Alaska Dispatch News about the new marijuana law in Alaska.  The article quotes extensively from Prof. Brandeis' Alaska Law Review article,  "The Continuing Vitality of Ravin v. State: Alaskans Still Have a Constitutional Right to Possess Marijuana in the Privacy of Their Homes,"  published in the December 2012 issue of the Alaska Law Review.

Prof. Brandeis teaches courses on American government, constitutional law and civil liberties, and is a frequent speaker on constitutional law and other legal issues. Prof. Brandeis also maintains a private law practice through which he provided legal representation in administrative agency proceedings for the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol in Alaska. 

Read the article
"Why does Alaska count 6 pot plants per household, not per person?" by Scott Woodham. Alaska Dispatch News, 26 Feb 2015.

Dr. Payne publishes article in Security Journal about charging property owners fees for excessive police calls for service to their property

Dr. Troy Payne, Justice faculty, recently published an article in the advance online version of Security Journal.

"Reducing excessive police incidents: Do notices to owners work?" by Dr. Troy Payne. Security Journal advance online publication 16 February 2015; doi: 10.1057/sj.2015.2

This study examines the impact on the count of police incidents of a notice of potential future fees or fines to property owners in Anchorage, Alaska and Green Bay, Wisconsin. It was found that police incidents are reduced by 24–28 per cent after a notice of potential fines, with two-thirds of properties experiencing a decline in police incidents post-notice. The implications for policy and practice are discussed.

Security Journal publishes the latest developments and techniques in security management and is a resource for security researchers and professionals. 

Dr. Myrstol invited to join the Justice Research and Policy Editorial Board as Associate Editor

Dr. Brad Myrstol, Director of the Alaska Justice Statistical Analysis Center (AJSAC), was recently invited to join the Justice Research and Policy Editorial Board as an Associate Editor.

Justice Research and Policy is a publication of the Justice Research and Statistics Association (JRSA). It is a semiannual, peer-reviewed journal which publishes policy-oriented research on a wide range of topics, with a particular focus on criminal and juvenile justice policies and practices relevant to state and local government.

The AJSAC is housed in the Justice Center.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Join us on March 2nd! National Criminal Justice Month speaker discusses 40 years of experience in corrections

"40 Years in Corrections: Are We Going Forward or Backward? "

March is National Criminal Justice Month.

Dr. Allen Ault.
Join us to hear Dr. Allen Ault, Dean of the College of Justice & Safety at Eastern Kentucky University, share his experiences as Commissioner of Corrections in Georgia, Colorado, and Mississippi; warden of a maximum -security prison; and Chief of Special Projects, National Institute of Corrections, U.S. Department of Justice.

Date/time: Monday, March 2nd, 2015, 6:30 - 7:30 p.m.
UAA/APU Consortium Library, LIB 307

Admission: Free
Free in the following lots only - Library Main Lot, Library NE Lot, and East Parking Garage. 

(The Central Parking Garage and surface lot are pay parking only.) Click here for Google map - click on markers to find free parking areas. 
Dr. Ault will discuss his years in corrections, and his work on corrections initiatives such as reentry and inmate mental health, and how his experiences have shaped his view on the death penalty.

This event is sponsored by the Justice Center, the Pre-Law Society, and the Justice Club. Dr. Troy Payne and Prof. Jason Brandeis, J.D., are the Justice Center faculty advisors for this event.

In 2009 the United States Congress established March as National Criminal Justice Month. The purpose of National Criminal Justice Month is to promote societal awareness regarding the causes and consequences of crime, as well as strategies for preventing and responding to crime.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Prof. Brandeis interviewed by Alaska Dispatch News for article about marijuana and employment

Prof. Jason Brandeis, Legal Studies faculty in the Justice Center, was interviewed for a recent article in the Alaska Dispatch News about marijuana use and employment.  Because of the conflict between federal and state law regarding marijuana use, and because some Alaska employers receive federal funds which potentially brings them under the terms of the 1988 Drug-Free Workplace Act, Prof. Brandeis commented, " I imagine there will be some court cases that come out of this."

Read the article:
"With pot legal in Alaska, can you still get fired for failing a drug test?" by Michelle Therriault Boots. Alaska Dispatch News, 23 Feb 2015.

Prof. Brandeis teaches courses on American government, constitutional law and civil liberties, and is a frequent speaker on constitutional law and other legal issues. Prof. Brandeis also maintains a private law practice through which he provided legal representation in administrative agency proceedings for the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol in Alaska.   

Justice Center welcomes students at 2015 Spring Preview Day

L to r: Prof. Deb Periman and Dr. Marny Rivera
get ready to welcome students.
Dr. Marny Rivera, Justice Undergraduate Program Coordinator, and Prof. Deb Periman, J.D., Legal Studies Program Coordinator, met with high school students and their parents at the Spring 2015 Preview Day on February 13 at the UAA Student Union.

Preview Days are designed specifically for high school juniors and seniors and their guests and help students get ready to attend UAA. The event offers students and their guests the opportunity to experience firsthand all that UAA has to offer.

High school students crowd around the Justice Center table to talk about majoring in Justice or Legal Studies.

Students attend mock classes, workshops on admissions and financial aid, and speak with current students about campus life as well as UAA faculty about academic programs. Guests attending with the students speak with UAA administrators and also attend workshops on admissions and financial aid.

"Spirit" gives a cheer for the Justice Center.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Vicarious trauma among researchers: recognizing and dealing with it — A guest blog post by Dr. Jane Palmer

Dr. Jane Palmer, American University
We welcome as our first "guest blogger," Jane Palmer, M.S.W., Ph.D., with American University in Washington D.C.  She is a researcher in the areas of gender-based violence and vicarious trauma.

Her post today focuses on factors that put researchers at risk for vicarious trauma, how researchers can help themselves, and how supervisors can support research staff. This post is based on a presentation Dr. Palmer gave in June 2014 at a roundtable at UAA on vicarious trauma among researchers.

Vicarious Trauma Among Researchers

Since I became a researcher in the field of gender-based violence, I have become concerned with the issue of vicarious trauma among researchers. My earlier professional experience as a counseling intern at a center for children who have been sexually abused was my first introduction to this concept. Vicarious trauma is experienced when working in a trauma-related field begins to negatively impact someone’s personal life. At my internship placement, I learned that self-care is critical to prevent vicarious trauma and its little sisters: compassion fatigue and burnout. Vicarious trauma is a well-researched area in the field of Psychology – in the context of therapists – but there is limited research on this issue among researchers. Of note, in the field of sexual violence, are Dr. Rebecca Campbell’s (2002) book Emotionally involved: The impact of researching rape and a recent article in the peer-reviewed journal Violence Against Women by Dr. Jan Coles and her colleagues.  Much of the information below was gleaned from these two sources.

Compared to therapists, Coles et al. (2014) assert that conducting research on trauma-related topics may actually put researchers at higher risk of vicarious trauma because they are not in a helping role. To research and analyze, but not be able to offer assistance can tip the scale.  Therefore, this blog post will focus on the factors that put individual researchers at risk for developing vicarious trauma and what supervisors can do the support their research staff before and during trauma-related research projects.

What Factors Are Associated with One’s Risk of Experiencing Vicarious Trauma?

There are several possible contributors to a person’s level of vicarious trauma. 
  • The researcher’s personal history of trauma, or past exposure to traumatic events. This could be a risk or protective factor. Individuals with little to no experience with trauma could be profoundly affected by what they learn in the course of the research. Alternatively, someone with a history of trauma may have better preparation to hear the stories. However, this will depend on where the individual is in his or her healing process, as some content can be triggering for survivors.
  • The researcher’s coping and self-care strategies.  The level of impact depends on the extent to which a researcher engages in healthy self-care or coping strategies.  To evaluate your level of self-care, the University of Buffalo School of Social Work offers a great self-assessment. For some excellent self-care tips, check out this article from the Huffington Post.
  • The researcher’s current life circumstances. No matter one’s past history with trauma, current coping and self-care strategies, a researcher’s current life circumstances can affect how she or he is able to cope with the stories she or he hears. Before embarking on a trauma-related research project, evaluate if you have the “space” in your life for it. If you feel like you’re life is currently trying or chaotic, now may not be the right time for this particular project.
  • The researcher’s current support systems.  It is crucial that researchers have someone to debrief with, whether it is a professional colleague, a friend or loved one.  Support systems should be those that can actually be supportive of you (that is, they are interested in the topic and are ok with hearing the stories or supporting you how you need to be supported). For research projects with confidentiality agreements, the debriefing should occur with other project members. Still, your loved ones can support you even without knowing the content of what you are studying.  Researchers should evaluate the extent to which their current support systems are a positive force in their life and consider avoiding the toxic or negative people in their lives.
  • The researcher’s current level of self-awareness.  Do you know your limits?  Do you listen to the little voice in your head or do you tune it out? Developing self-awareness will help you, your relationships and your daily life immensely.

How can I support my research team?

At the organizational level, research supervisors can prevent or mitigate vicarious trauma by preparing research assistants (RAs) about the issues they will hear or read about throughout the project.
  • This preparation should occur early in the process – as early as the hiring phase – so that the right team is selected to do this difficult research.
  • Supervisors should develop policies and procedures related to caring for the research assistants (such as a maximum number of interviews per day or a protocol if an RA experiences negative impacts while conducting the research). 
  • RAs should receive regular, scheduled and supportive supervision and have plenty of opportunity to debrief with one another (especially in cases where confidentiality agreements preclude them from discussing their work with others). 
  • If debriefing is not possible (because you are not working on a team or the team has shifts that make meeting impossible), I highly recommend utilizing journaling in order to do a “data dump” of stories and their impact before going home or to decompress at the end of a shift. If possible, supervisors should assign RAs some “mindless” tasks in addition to the tough stuff so they can get a mental and emotional break, as needed.
  • Finally, RAs and supervisors should actively practice and promote self-care that nourishes the body, mind and spirit. Ignoring these tips may affect the validity of your research findings (Wray, Markovic & Manderson, 2007).
How Do I Know If I Have Vicarious Trauma?

Vicarious trauma is the most severe impact of conducting research about violence. Researchers can also experience lower levels of impact when they work on trauma-related research projects (such as compassion fatigue or burnout). Any research project can make a researcher feel stressed – a state that is common among, well, basically everyone – and a state that can be managed on a daily basis. Burnout, on the other hand, is a more severe form of stress that includes symptoms such as increased apathy, irritability, pessimism, cynicism, or fatigue.  If burnout goes untreated, a researcher can experience compassion fatigue (also called secondary traumatic stress). People at this stage feel emotionally or physically depleted and have symptoms similar to Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, such as hyper-vigilance, avoidance or numbing or have nightmares about the events they have heard or read about but not experienced.  Finally, the most severe impact of empathic engagement with traumatic material is vicarious trauma, which is associated with changes in one’s world view (related to safety, trust, intimacy, and control), persistent physical and/or psychological symptoms (such as persistent hyperarousal, cynicism, guilt or loss of idealism) and behaviors that affect one’s relationships (such as withdrawal, increased conflict or disconnection from loved ones).


Conducting research about violence is not for everyone. Both researchers and supervisors must reflect on whether, given their current circumstances and past history, they have the internal and external support to embark on a project that involves traumatic material.  If your gut is telling you that now is not the time, then take the time you need to address current stressful life circumstances or your own history or trauma before embarking on a research project that involves other’s stories of pain and trauma. Oh yeah, and stop watching C.S.I. and Criminal Minds, you’ll thank me later.

About the author
Dr. Palmer in front of
Northwestern Glacier in
June 2014.
Jane Palmer is a professorial lecturer at American University’s School of Public Affairs in Washington DC and the Director of the Community-Based Research Scholars program. She received her Ph.D. in Justice, Law & Society from American University and her M.S.W. from the Jane Addams College of Social Work at the University of Illinois-Chicago. Her research focuses on responses to gender-based violence (including bystander intervention, help-seeking behaviors and public policy). Her self-care strategies include yoga, meditation, hiking and attempting to read young adult fiction at the same rate as her nieces.

Campbell, R. (2002). Emotionally involved: The impact of researching rape. London: Routledge.
Coles, J., Astbury, J., Dartnall, E. & Limjerwala, S. (2014). "A qualitative exploration of researcher trauma and researchers’ responses to investigating sexual violence." Violence Against Women, 20, 95-117.
Wray, N., Markovic, M. & Manderson, L. (2007). "The impact of data triangulation and intensive-research practices on the researcher and qualitative research process." Qualitative Health Research, 17, p.1392.

Justice major/Legal Studies minor is captain of UAA Ski Team

James Schindler skiing for UAA in 2014.
(Photo by Karl Schindler)
James Schindler, Justice major/Legal Studies minor, is a senior and captain of the UAA Seawolves Ski Team. After college, James is considering going into law enforcement.

The ski team has home meets this year - which happens only every 3 or 4 years.  Come out and support the UAA Ski Team on February 23 - 28 in Girdwood!  

See the current guide about the UAA Seawolves Ski Team. 

James Schindler, Captain,
UAA Ski Team.
Seawolf Invitational at Girdwood:
Feb. 23 - Freestyle
Feb. 24 - Classical
Feb. 25 - Giant Slalom
Feb. 26 - Slalom

NCAA West Regional/RMISA Championships at Girdwood:
Feb. 27 - Freestyle/Giant Slalom
Feb. 28 - Classical/Slalom

Monday, February 23, 2015

Justice Center alum spotlight: Beck Strah

Beck Strah
Beck Strah, B.A. '08 -  Psych major/Justice minor, is a first year Ph.D. student in Criminology and Justice Policy at Northeastern University. Beck received his M.A. in Criminal Justice from Seattle University.

Prior to his doctoral work, Beck was employed as a Corrections Deputy in Snohomish County, Washington for two and one-half years. His current research interests include corrections, recidivism, training evaluation, masculinity and crime, and risk assessment.

Beck credits Dr. Allan Barnes, Justice faculty, with making criminological theory an interactive experience in the classroom and inspiring him to enter the field of criminological research.

Illustration of Prof. Brandeis in Atlantic Monthly reprinted in Alaska Dispatch News.

Cartoon panel from The Atlantic article showing Prof. Brandeis
commenting on individual rights and state constitutions.
Prof. Jason Brandeis, J.D., Legal Studies faculty in the Justice Center, was featured in an illustrated article in February 8 issue of The Atlantic magazine about the history of marijuana in Alaska. Prof. Brandeis was interviewed by the author, Josh Kramer.  The Alaska Dispatch News recently reprinted the illustrated article.

See the Alaska Dispatch News article:
"Tundra Green: An Illustrated History of Cannabis in Alaska" by Josh Kramer. Reprinted by Alaska Dispatch News on 8 Feb 2015 from The Atlantic.
Prof. Brandeis teaches courses on American government, constitutional law and civil liberties, and is a frequent speaker on constitutional law and other legal issues. Prof. Brandeis also maintains a private law practice through which he provided legal representation in administrative agency proceedings for the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol in Alaska.