Some of these individuals participated in the ASC Oral History Project. For more information, please go to the Oral History Project page.
CHESTER L. BRITT
Chester L. Britt, III passed away August 30, 2016 at Israel Family Hospice in Ames, Iowa following a severe anaphylactic reaction to a wasp sting. Born in Santa Monica, California on July 22, 1962, Chester (Chet) L. Britt III, earned his B.S. (University of Iowa, 1984), M.S. (Washington State University 1986), and Ph.D. (University of Arizona, 1990) in Sociology. He held faculty positions at the University of Illinois (1990-1995), Pennsylvania State University (1995-1999), Arizona State University (1999-2006), Northeastern University (2006-2015), and Iowa State University (2015-2016). He served as Chair at Arizona State University and Iowa State University, and as Associate Dean and then Dean at Northeastern University.
Chet was an accomplished scholar with a love of quantitative methods and scholarly interests that spanned from criminological theory and the demography of crime, to criminal careers and criminal justice decision making. As a student of Travis Hirschi, Chet firmly believed that control theory was the answer to most, if not all, questions relating to the etiology of crime. Chet’s books include Control Theories of Crime and Delinquency: Advances in Criminological Theory, Volume 12, edited by Chester L. Britt and Michael Gottfredson (2003) and Statistics in Criminal Justice, 4th ed. by David Weisburd and Chester L. Britt (2014). In addition to his books, Chet also served as Editor of Justice Quarterly from 2004-2007. His work appears across numerous peer-reviewed journal articles, book chapters, and book reviews.
There’s a reason so many students and colleagues feel so devastated by his loss. Chet was approachable, kind, and always went out of his way to help people see things a little more clearly, understand things a little more deeply, and… of course… apply the appropriate statistic. Chet was a selfless academic, bringing out the best in so many, rarely taking any credit.
Chet is survived by his wife, Kelly Champion; his children, Chester Lucas (Nicole) Britt, IV, Aly Hiller (né Britt; Morgan), Dana and René Gustafson; his grandson, Jackson Hiller; his parents, Chester and Lilia Britt, II; his sister, Karyn Johnny and his nephew, Sam Johnny.
Authored by: Natasha Frost and Jack McDevitt
MARIE L. GRIFFIN
At the far-too-young age of 49, Dr. Marie Griffin lost her hard-fought battle against cancer on August 15, 2016. A native of Pittsburgh, PA, Marie moved to Scottsdale, Arizona, with her family in 1979. After graduating from Chaparral High School, she attended Santa Clara University where she earned B.S. in political science in 1989. Marie went on to earn a Ph.D. in Justice Studies at Arizona State University in 1997, whereupon she was honored to join the faculty of ASU’s Administration of Justice Department. In 2006, she because an inaugural faculty member in ASU’s School of Criminology and Criminal Justice.
During her 19-year career on ASU’s faculty, Marie was well-known for her dedication to working closely with students to maximize their academic growth and development. Marie also became nationally recognized for the rigor and impact of her research in two areas of scholarly inquiry. The first was in corrections. She frequently studied the organizational climate in the prison work environment, prison gangs, prison and jail misconduct, and community corrections supervision. Her second area of expertise was in gender and crime. She authored more than 50 referred articles, book chapters, and technical reports. She was the principal or co-principal investigator on more than a dozen funded projects from local, state and national sources, and recently completed a research project funded by PEW Center on the States, examining the effects of earned time credit on successful probation outcomes in Arizona. Her work has appeared in such prestigious outlets as Justice Quarterly, Criminal Justice and Behavior, Criminology & Public Policy, The Prison Journal, Criminal Justice Policy Review, Crime & Delinquency, and the Journal of Criminal Justice.
Marie was a long-time servant-leader to our profession. She served as a member of the National Institute of Justice’s Justice Systems Research Scientific Review Panel (2012-2014); as Secretary/Treasurer of the ASC’s Division on Corrections and Sentencing (2006-2010); as an Executive Counselor on the Board of the WSC (2011-2014); as a member of numerous ASC and ACJS committees; on the editorial boards Criminal Justice & Behavior, Women and Criminal Justice; and Criminology, Criminal Justice, Law & Society; as a peer-reviewer for nearly two dozen scholarly journals; and on dozens of ASU board, committees, task forces, and community service initiatives.
Marie is survived by her loving husband, John Hepburn, and their 14-year-old twins, Jack and Megan, as well as her mother, two sisters, brother, two step-children, four young grandchildren; and her ASU family. Marie was the kind of person that everyone wanted in a colleague, friend, and neighbor. She was a selfless woman of great warmth, compassion, love, integrity, and an engaging sense of humor. She will be deeply missed.
NICOLE (NICKY) HAHN RAFTER
Nicky Rafter, a long-time professor of Criminal Justice and senior research fellow at Northeastern University and an internationally-revered scholar in the fields of social history and criminology, passed away, suddenly and unexpectedly, on February 29, 2016 at Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital in Boston.
Guided by a methodology of comparative social history, Nicky’s eclectic research and scholarship explored mechanisms of social control, representations of crime, eugenics, biological theories of crime, and the history of criminology. Nicky’s love of historical criminological research was born when her dissertation research on the punishment of “defective delinquents,” while a doctoral student at SUNY-Albany, brought her to the nearly-undiscovered world of state prison archives. A few years later she returned to those archives to analyze reports produced by prison matrons in the early to mid-1900s and authored the authoritative history of women’s imprisonment in Gender, Prisons and Prison History (1985) and Partial Justice: Women, Prisons and Social Control (1990). Nicky’s ground-breaking research on gender and punishment emerged alongside, was supported by, and helped cultivate the field of feminist criminology. Not surprisingly, Nicky was instrumental in the creation of the American Society of Criminology’s Division of Women and Crime and remained an active member throughout her life.
Nicky was never afraid to take on unpopular topics. Long before the recent resurgence of criminological interest in genetics and crime, Nicky was one of few criminologists to examine the origins of the eugenics and crime movement – and her decades-long interest in this area never waned. In White Trash: The Eugenic Family Studies 1877-1919 (1988), Creating Born Criminals (1997), and The Criminal Brain: Understanding Biological Theories of Crime Nicky promoted a critical re-evaluation of biological theories of crime. A collaboration with social historian, Mary Gibson, led to their re-translation of the Cesare Lombroso’s Criminal Man and Criminal Woman. In the 1990s, Nicky’s interest shifted to the representation of crime in popular culture. In Shots in the Mirror: Crime Films and Society (1999) and Criminology Goes to the Movies (2011), co-authored with Michelle Brown, Nicky examined crime films through a criminological lens arguing that crime films form a discourse in their own right.
Never one to let her intellectual curiosity stagnate, in 2010, she was awarded a Fulbright to study and teach in Linz, Austria, childhood home of Adolf Hitler and the cultural center of the Third Reich. Her experiences in Linz moved her to seek a deeper understanding of genocide and served as the impetus for her most recent book The Crime of All Crimes, Toward a Criminology of Genocide which was published by NYU in March of 2016, nearly one month after her death. In his review of the book, John Braithwaite describes The Crime of all Crimes as “a landmark reframing in the criminology of genocide” writing that Nicky’s work “challenges existing claims about the nature of genocide, weaving together a complex new understanding of crime, war, and violence.” Nicky challenged every idea she confronted.
Nicky’s many achievements as a scholar were recognized by American Society of Criminology with her selection as a Fellow in 2000 and as the winner of the Sutherland Award in 2009, but one of her most enduring legacies is her mentoring of students and junior colleagues. Throughout her career she chaired numerous dissertations, provided mentorship and guidance to young scholars, and led efforts to ensure the profession recognized scholarship from marginalized and underrepresented groups. Most importantly, Nicky was an inspiration to many in the field of criminal justice. Her research was bold and she was even bolder. She was demanding, fierce, and loyal. Despite the importance of her scholarly work, those who knew her well will likely remember her inspiration as her most enduring legacy.
Nicky lived in Boston’s North End, where she was active in community affairs. She is survived by her husband Robert Hahn, her son Alex Hahn, her daughter Sara Hahn, and her daughter in-law Sunali Goonesekera. Geoff Ward and Amy Farrell have organized a special session in her honor for the 2016 ASC meetings in New Orleans and we hope you will join us for a celebration of her life and impact on the field. Donations in her honor can be made to Human Rights Watch at www.hrw.org.
Authored by: Amy Farrell and Natasha Frost
MURRAY A. STRAUS
Murray Straus, an internationally influential former professor of sociology at the University of New Hampshire and founder of the field of family violence research, died May 13 at the age of 89.
Beginning in the 1970s, his surveys established that people were far more likely to be assaulted and injured by members of their own family than they were by strangers, fundamentally changing popular and academic conceptions about crime and crime prevention.
He devoted much of his later career to the study of spanking and corporal punishment, accumulating evidence that spanking was associated with increased subsequent aggression among children and reduced warmth between them and their parents, among other negative side effects.
He pioneered techniques for getting information about sensitive topics such as being the victim or perpetrator of family violence in national household and telephone surveys. His Conflict Tactics Scale, which he revised over the years, became the standard approach for gathering information about child and spouse abuse and one of the more widely used instruments in social science.
His findings led him to the conclusion that, although women suffered more serious consequences than men from domestic aggression, women perpetrated a considerable amount of violence in intimate relationships that also needed to be addressed in public policy if families were to be made safe.
Early in his career he specialized in rural sociology and the measurement of family interaction.
He became interested in family violence as a result of planning a meeting of the National Council of Family Relations in Chicago, Illinois, in 1968 in the wake of police brutality there at the Democratic Convention.
He decided that to engage with the issues of the day, they needed to assemble a panel on the connection between families and societal violence. He went on to show that people exposed to violence in their families of origin were considerably more likely to engage in violence as adults and to support public policies such as capital punishment and military intervention.
He was of the opinion that spanking, even when used in moderation, taught that hitting and violence were appropriate and even necessary responses when a person believed someone else’s misbehavior needed correction. He concluded, based on his research, that parents should be taught to never spank children. He strongly endorsed and provided much of the scientific evidence to back efforts to ban corporal punishment, a ban which has been adopted by more than four dozen countries.
Straus spent most of his career, from 1968 until his death, at UNH, much of it as director of the Family Research Laboratory, after previous positions at Washington State University, University of Wisconsin, Cornell and the University of Minnesota. He received his bachelor’s and doctoral training at the University of Wisconsin.
He was an energetic and prolific scholar, authoring 15 books and hundreds of scholarly articles. Among the most widely cited were “Behind Closed Doors” and “Beating the Devil Out of Them.”
He was also a devoted teacher who trained and mentored dozens of scholars, including many of the current luminaries in the field of family violence, as director for 30 years of a post-doctoral fellowship program funded by the National Institute of Mental Health.
He served as president of the Society for the Study of Social Problems, the National Council on Family Relations and the Eastern Sociological Society and was active in numerous other academic organizations.
He was the recipient of many awards, including from the American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children, the National Association of Social Workers and the American Sociological Association.
He was known as a warm and engaging person who enjoyed collaborating with colleagues and supervising students. He assembled two large international consortia, involving dozens of scholars in more than 30 countries to conduct cross-national comparative surveys on dating violence and parental disciplinary practices.
Straus was born in New York City on June 18, 1926, to Samuel and Kathleen (Miller) Straus.
He is survived by his wife, Dorothy Dunn Straus; his children by a previous marriage, Carol Straus and Dr. John Straus; his stepchildren David Dunn and wife Kathy, Lisa Dunn, Thomas Dunn and wife Linda; and many grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
A memorial to commemorate his life and work is planned for July 11 in conjunction with the International Conference on Family Violence and Child Victimization Research to be held at the Portsmouth Sheraton. All members of the community are welcome.
Contributions in his memory may be made to the Family Research Lab Projects Fund, with checks made out to UNH Foundation and referencing Murray Straus, and mailed to:
Family Research Lab Projects Fund
c/o UNH Foundation
9 Edgewood Road
Durham, NH 03824
UNH Today (May 23, 2016) “Passing: Professor Murray A. Straus, 1926-2016,” University of New Hampshire