Mares’ valuable criminal justice research grabs attention at Harvard

Being invited by Harvard University to serve on a three-person panel addressing critical social issues is an accomplishment tailored for the résumé of the academician seeking to make a mark in his field. For Dennis Mares, assistant professor of sociology and criminal justice studies, the invitation to serve on a panel at the prestigious academic institution is just one testament to his continued efforts to make valuable contributions to the criminal justice field and to society at large.

Dennis Mares, associate professor of sociology and criminal justice studies.

In March, Mares was invited to serve on the panel along with Santita Jackson, radio talk show host and the daughter of famous civil rights activist Jesse Jackson, and Jamal Joseph, professor of professional practice and chair of Columbia University’s Graduate Film Program.

The discussion in which Mares participated was titled: Strategies & Approaches: Reducing Youth Violence in the Black Community. Mares and the other panelists largely addressed concerns of students attending the 27th Annual Harvard BSLA Conference.

“The three of us were essentially invited to talk about the backgrounds, explanations and possible solutions for high levels of violence among black youth in inner city communities,” explained Mares. “The students were asking us various questions about backgrounds and those kinds of things and we would respond to them.”

Mares, a native of Holland, has been working and studying in the field of criminal justice for over 10 years. His plethora of criminal justice research includes matters of gang violence in England; impact of drug offending on other types of crimes in neighborhoods in Miami; whether certain activities that humans engage in that destroy the environment should be viewed as crime (for example: overusing soil and not replenishing) and the history of violence.

“The common theme is a focus on violence,” Mares said. “I’m just interested in issues of violence and why they come about, and in developing good explanations for them. I’m very theoretically focused.”

Mares’ focus on the theoretical issues which may explain violence are linked to greater concerns of creating change and helping the justice system to better function.

The University of Missouri – St. Louis alumnus,  recently wrote a paper in which he analyzed the installation of “shotspotters” in neighborhoods with high levels of violent crime in St. Louis. “Shotspotters” are systems which are installed in areas to detect and locate gun shots. The goal of their installation is largely to save lives and to prevent crime.

Mares’ research found the “shotspotters” to be less effective and valuable than assumed. Much of his work seeks to address similar concerns such as the assumption that putting more police on the streets will automatically reduce or prevent crime.

In examining the causes and history of violence, Mares’ work has the potential to address large theoretical concerns and ultimately improve how crime prevention and resolution are approached. For Mares, producing research that is useful and that answers important questions is imperative.

“I’m not worried about my legacy so much,” Mares said. “I’m more concerned with understanding the theoretical patterns so that we can somehow do something with that.”

Be Sociable, Share!

Filed Under: Sociology & Criminal Justice


Comments (1)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. dr16gauge says:

    Great work Dennis. What do you think about the new “Exterminator” armored truck that will be used to watch Illinois neighborhoods?

Switch to our mobile site