The Presley Center of Crime & Justice Studies’ current research program focuses primarily on issues related to re-entry, rehabilitation, and improving the opportunities available to justice-involved individuals during reintegration into their community. Under Dr. Sharon Oselin’s leadership, the Center is conducting an evaluation of California’s Prison to Employment (P2E) Initiative, an audit of Inland Empire employers’ willingness to hire the formerly incarcerated, and a comparative study on the effect of gentrification on illicit vice markets.
The Center’s research often reflects the leadership of its director and pressing criminal justice questions of the time. Previously, the Center studied the effect of structural predictors of juvenile justice-involvement, pilot interventions intended to reduce juvenile justice involvement and promote student well-being, the determinants of violence against women, and disparities in justice-impacted Latinos’ experiences with the criminal justice system in California, among other topics.
These research projects are supported by extramural funding through contract-based work, private foundations, and government grants, including the California Workforce Development Board, John Randolph Haynes and Dora Haynes Foundation, American Sociological Association and the National Science Foundation, and the Riverside County Probation Department.
During Dr. Oselin’s tenure, the Center has significantly expanded its programming to support UCR students’ academic and professional development. This includes the creation of a scholarship endowment for justice-involved students, an internal internship program for undergraduate students interested in evidence-based practice and policy, an external internship program that pairs UCR students with regional criminal justice agencies and community-based organizations that serve justice-impacted populations, and other ad hoc professionalization and networking opportunities. These programs are offered alongside the Center’s longstanding Graduate Student Research Fellowship, which subsidizes UCR doctoral students’ research on issues related to crime and/or criminal justice.
In 1993, the California State Legislature amended the penal code to establish the Center of Crime & Justice Studies as an independent research center at the University of California’s Riverside campus. Per §5085-5088, the Center operates under the authority of the UC system and is vested with broad discretion to conduct self-directed, independent research on issues related to criminal justice that can help inform evidence-based practice and policy. This statute was born of a nearly decade long collaborative effort—by State Senator Robert Presley (Democrat – 36th District), Assemblymember Larry Stirling (Republican – 77th District), and Dr. David Gardner, 15th President of the University of California—to promote objective academic research with the capacity to improve criminal justice outcomes in California.
Since 1994, the Presley Center of Crime & Justice Studies operated under the leadership of five directors, all of whom held concurrent professorships at UC Riverside. This includes Dr. Robert Nash Parker (Sociology), Dr. Nancy Guerra (Psychology), Dr. Kirk Williams (Sociology), Dr. Steven Clark (Psychology), and Dr. Sharon Oselin (Public Policy & Sociology).
To learn more about our research impacts, participate in these projects, discuss undergraduate and graduate student internship opportunities, or make a gift in support of the Presley Center’s student scholarship fund please contact: