Altoona students take home top award at regional criminal justice conference

Penn State Altoona Student Tyler Frye accepting the first-place award on behalf of his peers, Rachel Kosaka and Alicia Williams, from NEACJS Student Paper Committee Chair, Dr. Danielle Carkin Lacorazza.

Penn State Altoona Student Tyler Frye, right, accepted the first-place award on behalf of his peers, Rachel Kosaka and Alicia Williams, from NEACJS Student Paper Committee Chair Danielle Carkin Lacorazza.

Credit: Provided

ALTOONA, Pa. — Penn State Altoona students Tyler Frye, Rachel Kosaka and Alicia Williams won the David Orrick Undergraduate Student Paper Competition at the annual meeting of the Northeastern Association of Criminal Justice Sciences (NEACJS) held in early June in Williamsport.

The students won with their paper, “Punitive Attitudes Toward Sex Offenders: Does Offender Sex Matter?” Nathan E. Kruis, assistant professor of criminal justice at Penn State Altoona, who currently serves as director-at-large of NEACJS, was their sponsor. “They have been working on this project for over a year now,” said Kruis. “When I read the first draft of the manuscript, I knew that it was a winner. I had to submit it to the conference competition so they could be recognized and rewarded for all their hard work.”

“Our paper used data collected from a nationally representative sample of Americans to assess bias in jury sentencing recommendations,” said Frye, who presented the paper on behalf of his peers. “We found strong effects for biological sex; controlling for all other variables, potential jurors wanted to sentence men more harshly than women, recommending about an extra year and a half of incarceration and approximately $1,300 in additional fine imposition for male offenders. They also desired to sentence perpetrators of male-directed violence less severely than perpetrators of female-directed violence in some of the models.”

The students are members of the Integrated Social Science Research Lab (ISSRL) on campus, which is co-directed by Kruis and Nicholas J. Rowland, professor of sociology. The ISSRL and work produced there is made possible by Penn State Altoona's Division of Education, Human Development, and Social Science, headed by Leigh Ann Haefner, associate professor of science education. It is embedded in the criminal justice and sociology programs coordinated by Mary Ann Probst and Karyn McKinney-Marvasti, respectively.

The students’ project was supported by a Research Development Grant from the Office of Research and Engagement headed by Associate Dean for Research and Associate Professor of Architecture Corey Gracie-Griffin.