Dr. Paul Hirschfield is an Affiliated Professor in the Program in Criminal Justice, as well as Associate Professor of Sociology at Rutgers University. He earned his Ph.D. in Sociology from Northwestern University in 2003. His research has focused on a broad range of topics pertaining to crime and justice with an emphasis on their relationship to youth, education, and social policy. Hirschfield’s work demonstrates that juvenile justice involvement adversely affects educational attainment among a sample of inner-city Chicago high school students, and explains large gender differences in high school dropout among sampled African-American students. Interviews he conducted with young ex-offenders explored the social and institutional interactions that help mediate the impact of juvenile justice contact on developmental outcomes and recidivism. His work is part of a larger research agenda that aims to uncover the causes and social implications of the widespread criminalization of adolescent deviance and school misconduct in the inner-city. In that connection, Hirschfield’s most recent research examines how aggressive, proactive policing influences children’s perceptions of the strength of prosocial norms in their neighborhoods, as well as their own attitudes toward and compliance with the law.
Hirschfield has participated in separate experimental evaluations of the impact of the Moving to Opportunity program and the Comer School Development Program on rates of juvenile court involvement. With support from the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (U.S. Department of Justice) and the Spencer Foundation, he is conducting a study of the impact of mainstream and alternative school re-enrollment on the reentry success of young ex-offenders in New York City. Hirschfield’s work has appeared in Criminology, Sociology of Education, Theoretical Criminology, Youth Violence and Juvenile Justice, Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency, and others.