An Interview with Janet Lauritsen

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    • 00:00

      [MUSIC PLAYING]Oral History of Criminology, Janet Lauritsen,interviewed by Brendan Dooley

    • 00:11

      BRENDAN DOOLEY: The world history criminology project,in conjunction with the ASC, is proud to present a conversationwith Janet Lauritsen.It's March 26, 2015.And we are recording this from Rick Rosenfeld's office, who'sbeen kind enough to rent this space,at the University of Missouri at St. Louis.Just to be brief recount of-- for those who may not

    • 00:34

      BRENDAN DOOLEY [continued]: be somewhat familiar with Dr. Lauritsen's work,a brief recollection of the highlightsof her career-- Dr. Lauritsen began her studies,and actually concluded her studies, at oneplace-- the University of Illinoiswhere she studied sociology.She now informs me that sociologywas a late interest in terms of her undergraduate career,finishing her BA in 1982 an MA in 1984 and her PhD in 1989.

    • 01:00

      BRENDAN DOOLEY [continued]: Her dissertation concern-- well, actuallythe title of her dissertation was Adolescent Sexual Behaviorand Early Childbearing, an Empirical Test of SocialControl and Strain Theories.She began her victimization research shortlyafter she concluded her dissertation researchwith an NIJ post-doc.Apparently post-docs were rather prevalent

    • 01:21

      BRENDAN DOOLEY [continued]: at that particular day and age, under the directionof Dr. Samson-- Rob Samson.

    • 01:26

      JANET LAURITSEN: That's correct.

    • 01:27

      BRENDAN DOOLEY: She was then hiredon as an assistant professor at the University of Missouriat St. Louis in 1900 where she is now.She, via climbing the academic ranks,attained the title of Curator Professor of Criminologyand Criminal Justice.And if memory serves, that's actuallyan appointment by the governor.

    • 01:46

      JANET LAURITSEN: By that system of the University of Missouri.

    • 01:50

      BRENDAN DOOLEY: And she also simultaneouslyserves as a visiting research fellowat the Bureau of Justice Statistics, USDepartment of Justice.And you've had several stints-- several multi-year stings.

    • 02:03

      JANET LAURITSEN: That's correct, still ongoing.

    • 02:06

      BRENDAN DOOLEY: She's earned quite a bit of recognition hereat the University of Missouri at St. Louis, bothfor her scholarship as well as for accolades on the teachingend of the spectrum.She's earned the Governor's Award for excellencein teaching in the state of Missouri in 2002.And she's also attained and earnedthe Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Research in 2012.

    • 02:30

      BRENDAN DOOLEY [continued]: In terms of the field at large, shehas served the National Consortium of Violence Researchfrom 1997 to 2008.She and Rick Rosenfeld authored a really interesting piece,a rebuttal to a report that attempted

    • 02:50

      BRENDAN DOOLEY [continued]: to classify particular cities as more or less dangerousin context.The Claude S. Fischer Award awardedfor that coauthored piece in 2010--the inaugural year for that particular award.She's been named National Associate of the NationalResearch Council, the National Academy of Sciences in 2011.

    • 03:11

      BRENDAN DOOLEY [continued]: And most recently, she has been namedas a fellow of the American Society of Criminology in 2013.In terms of her research scope, it primarilypertains to victimology.She's done quite a body of work with the National CrimeVictimization Survey.She'll speak to us about various aspects of that research

    • 03:32

      BRENDAN DOOLEY [continued]: endeavor-- that prolonged research endeavor.You've also dealt with the British Crime Survey,the National Youth Survey and a number of other common datasets.She's dealt with crime trends, intimate partner violence,quite a few methodological issuesyou've encountered-- grappled with over the courseof your career.Neighborhood contextual effects, gender, race,

    • 03:55

      BRENDAN DOOLEY [continued]: and victimization, victim offender overlap, as well asrepeat victimization.Now I think before we get to the body and the specifics of someof the contributions that you made in the literature,it might be helpful to get some idea herein terms of your biography and maybe how you made itinto the orbit of criminology from computer science.

    • 04:21

      JANET LAURITSEN: That's an interesting questionto reflect on.And it was never a plan of mine to become a criminologist,nor was it really a plan to become a sociologist.I had studied math and computer science upuntil the middle of my junior year

    • 04:42

      JANET LAURITSEN [continued]: and in college at the University of Illinois.And I decided at that point that itwas becoming a little too abstractand a little too disengaged from the world.And I remembered at the time it was alsogetting extremely difficult and bringing me no joy.

    • 05:03

      JANET LAURITSEN [continued]: And so I remembered that my favorite classesin my electives were sociology.And so what I did was I switched majors very late.And I crammed in, essentially, the equivalentof two years worth of full time sociology in the last threesemesters of my undergraduate career.

    • 05:24

      JANET LAURITSEN [continued]: And I loved it.And so I just love the applicationof empirical methods and the objective ways in whichsociologists were looking at the world and the different kindsof things they were looking at.So I finished that degree but graduated

    • 05:45

      JANET LAURITSEN [continued]: at the height of the early 1980s recession in the US.And there really weren't very many jobs.But I was very fortunate to have some really great professors,undergrad, who simply asked me one day,why don't you go to graduate school?We have an assistantship for you,

    • 06:06

      JANET LAURITSEN [continued]: and you can work in this quantitative labthat we have-- the Social Science Quantitative Labat the University of Illinois.So apply.And I said, that'd be great.And I was so excited-- first generation college student.I was so excited to hear that they weregoing to pay for my education.

    • 06:26

      JANET LAURITSEN [continued]: I couldn't believe it.And so I also had not many alternatives,so I took that assistantship.And I studied sociology in graduate schooland continued to love it.What happened is in my program isthat when I started the program, students

    • 06:48

      JANET LAURITSEN [continued]: were expected to focus on two areas and to test in two areas.But then they consolidated that to one.And I had had lots of interest in sociology.I was fascinated by stratification, by demography,by social psychology, and actually less so by criminology

    • 07:09

      JANET LAURITSEN [continued]: until later on in my graduate education whenI took a couple courses and becamefascinated by the topic of deviance and social control.And so that's when I decided that Iwas going to take my exams in just one field in criminology.And fortuitously at that point, Rob Sampson joined the faculty.

    • 07:33

      JANET LAURITSEN [continued]: And so--

    • 07:35

      BRENDAN DOOLEY: Could you speak to usa little bit about the intellectual environmentat the University of Illinois?

    • 07:40

      JANET LAURITSEN: Oh, it's fabulous.

    • 07:41

      BRENDAN DOOLEY: Many people may not be aware of the factthat it did have a reputation, at one particular pointtime in particular, for having a menagerie of criminologists.

    • 07:51

      JANET LAURITSEN: It was fabulous, I thought.It had, at one point in time-- overlapping and crisscrossingboth the end of my undergrad and the beginning of my grad schoolyears-- it had Michael Gottfredson, Rita Simon,David Bordua, Ken Land, Marcus Felson, and Rob Sampson.

    • 08:15

      JANET LAURITSEN [continued]: And I'm sure I'm leaving someone out,but it was a lot of crisscrossing of talent.And I just got lucky.I was there at the right time withsome real intellectual powerhouseswho, of course, were not necessarilyknown that at the time.A lot of them were assistant professors.

    • 08:36

      JANET LAURITSEN [continued]: But I was really fortunate to be able to work withand to be in contact with them.At the same time, I also loved the other areas of emphasis.And in sociology, you're forced to be broad and takemore coursework than I think crim students are encouragedto take today.And so I studied with ethnomethodologists,

    • 08:59

      JANET LAURITSEN [continued]: social psychologists, collective behavior theorists,and stratification people, too.So I really enjoyed the range of intellectual thoughtthat was going on there at the time.It was just really great.

    • 09:11

      BRENDAN DOOLEY: So going a little bit out of order,in a sense here, do you think your experience,your immersion, into computer sciencehas made you a-- I hate to use the term "datageek" but certainly somebody who's immersed in data,understands data and methodology,and how to extract what you want from that.

    • 09:32

      JANET LAURITSEN: I know it helped.

    • 09:33

      BRENDAN DOOLEY: Especially in this earlier day and age.

    • 09:36

      JANET LAURITSEN: Right.It was old school back then.And I know that I was one of the few students-- for example,I think one of the reasons they toldme to apply to graduate school wasbecause after I'd been a math and computer science major,they said, well, don't take the undergraduate STEMrequirements.Take the grad STEM requirements.

    • 09:57

      JANET LAURITSEN [continued]: And so I did.And so I was already prepared and had more elective timein grad school.And so I know they hired me because they neededsome graduate student to begin filling these researchslots that were going on there.And I wasn't afraid of the equipment.Lots of social science-- computers were new.

    • 10:20

      JANET LAURITSEN [continued]: We used mainframes and key punch cardsand all sorts of old fashioned things.And I wasn't afraid of it.I wasn't afraid to struggle with it.I never admitted that I knew-- I neverthought of myself as a genius in computer science or math,

    • 10:41

      JANET LAURITSEN [continued]: otherwise I would have been able to keep that major.But I did know enough about application at that pointand how to try to start using it and thinking that way.So I think that was definitely a reasonthat I was encouraged to go to graduate school.

    • 10:56

      BRENDAN DOOLEY: There were a couple of, I guess,segues I see from the point of your dissertationto victimology.So you go from a dissertation that's only throughout devianceand then you move to criminology.And then you get to victimology.With someone like Gottfredson on the facultythere, I have to ask if that was influential in some way

    • 11:20

      BRENDAN DOOLEY [continued]: in terms of--

    • 11:21

      JANET LAURITSEN: Actually, yeah, sure.Michael Gottfredson, I took a-- I'm sure he doesn't remember.I took a course with him, and it was a team taught courseon survey research.It was a two semester course.And they actually required the graduate studentsto collect survey data.It was a telephone survey.And some of it was about victimization and beliefs

    • 11:43

      JANET LAURITSEN [continued]: about crime and perceptions and things like that.And I do remember him saying to me, I said,I'm not sure I'm interested in criminology.He said, what are you interested in?And I think I said something like, well, early childbearingor something.And he said, that's criminology.And I said, I think you're right,

    • 12:04

      JANET LAURITSEN [continued]: especially because everything I had been reading at the timewas about-- essentially I viewed itas the labeling of bad girls.So when girls would engage in adolescent sexual behavior,they were being labeled as bad girls,whereas the boys were just being boys.

    • 12:25

      JANET LAURITSEN [continued]: And I couldn't help but think of Travis Hershey's theoryof people do things-- the question is,why doesn't everybody do it?And so I was fixated on this issue of this double standardagainst girls versus boys when it came to the big concernat the time, which was why it wasteenage childbearing, non-marital childbearing,

    • 12:47

      JANET LAURITSEN [continued]: and adolescent sexual behavior.But I really did study a little bit of victimologybefore I started the post-doc, because Iworked for Rob Sampson for two years on his projectsbefore the post-doc as an RA.And he and I worked on a paper with-- that's

    • 13:08

      JANET LAURITSEN [continued]: when we did the British Crime Survey paper.So I was working on my dissertation and with himon a paper from British Crime Survey.And he, of course, came from Albanywith Michael Hindelang and John Lockeand worked on crime survey data before.So there was some sort of a stream that

    • 13:31

      JANET LAURITSEN [continued]: made it seem to me to be in a natural part of what it wascriminologists do, although not many were doing it at the time.

    • 13:38

      BRENDAN DOOLEY: How much victimologyexisted at that point?Can you speak to us a little bit about the expansionof that element of the field?

    • 13:49

      JANET LAURITSEN: I wouldn't say we used reallythe word victimology at all.

    • 13:53

      BRENDAN DOOLEY: The National Crime Survery was around.

    • 13:55

      JANET LAURITSEN: Right.And it had been used.And it was very difficult to use.And so it only been used by a fewof the famous early criminologists in the area,like--

    • 14:09

      BRENDAN DOOLEY: Hindelang was--

    • 14:10

      JANET LAURITSEN: --Hindelang and Collin and Felson,and Collin [INAUDIBLE], all of whomhad been at Illinois, interestingly.But the other aspects of victimizationwere political at the time.They weren't empirical.

    • 14:31

      JANET LAURITSEN [continued]: There were feminist arguments about-- thereare these crimes out there that the NCS, at the time,is not measuring well at all.And there was a battle, an empirical battle,from the feminists saying, we don't

    • 14:53

      JANET LAURITSEN [continued]: have any value in that data.So what you had was this bifurcated origins,I think, of the feminists who wereconcerned about helping women.And you had these initial early users of the NCSwho were just trying to describe patterns and do moreof a hardcore empirical analysis,whereas this was much more of a political

    • 15:16

      JANET LAURITSEN [continued]: and harm minimizing effort on the part of feminists.There wasn't a field.There was no engagement between these groups at all,as far as I can tell.

    • 15:28

      BRENDAN DOOLEY: And so over the years,I suspect that the interest in this subject matterbegin to grow.And there began a term that we were able to centera conversation around.And then some themes emerged.And then you have empirical backingto test a particular propositions, et cetera.

    • 15:43

      JANET LAURITSEN: That's right.As data grew-- especially as the use of survey datagrew-- there were more and more opportunitiesto study victimization per se than in the past,because if you look at all the old criminologyclassics in the field, there's notmuch mention of victimization at all in the field.

    • 16:03

      JANET LAURITSEN [continued]: There is only in the '40s and '50s,Marvin Wolfgang started talking about victim precipitation.Do you really have any attention to victimization.And even there, the attention is reallyabout a new type of offender-- the offenderwho brings it on himself.But as far as concerning as a subject matters

    • 16:25

      JANET LAURITSEN [continued]: in its own right, I don't think that that reallytook off until later in the 90s actually.

    • 16:34

      BRENDAN DOOLEY: Now there's an intersectionthat you pointed us to in terms of policy versus science here.Can you give us a little bit about how that debate has maybeplayed itself out?

    • 16:50

      JANET LAURITSEN: Well, that's a tough one.I think there's a whole look in that topic,because I think without the-- there'sbeen an antagonistic relationship between scienceand victim advocates and what they're trying to do.

    • 17:11

      JANET LAURITSEN [continued]: There's been a suspicion of the numbers from the advocatesand actually for good reason, because theycould be used in all sorts of unhelpful ways to them.What I see is that that clash is really strongand serious and destructive.

    • 17:33

      JANET LAURITSEN [continued]: In the early years, there was, in my opinion, an early viewby some feminists-- and I consider myselfa feminist of a different sorf-- of a more positivist WendyKaminer type of feminist.But I think what happened is as more women got into the field,

    • 17:59

      JANET LAURITSEN [continued]: honestly, there was more sensitivity to the kindsof issues that women and advocates were concerned with.And there was a better blending of science and advocacy.

    • 18:11

      BRENDAN DOOLEY: Did that maybe allay some of the suspicionthat advocates may have had?

    • 18:16

      JANET LAURITSEN: Some of it.But there's still an older school of thoughtthat is dismissive of empirical analysis.They're more interested in helping and in the documentingthe experience of victimization.And even in the beginning of those debatesthere were scholars who were heckled for even studying

    • 18:42

      JANET LAURITSEN [continued]: the correlates of, say, women's risk for intimate partnerviolence, because they couldn't see how that information wouldbe useful other than for blaming the victim.And so they didn't want to see that kind of research.They wanted to see other forms.But over time, I think that's gotten so much better.And I think there's a new generation of young womenthat I see in agencies and in advocacy organizations who

    • 19:11

      JANET LAURITSEN [continued]: really want to learn, using empirical data,how to improve services, how to evaluate services,how to better target specific groups,and how to figure out why some things are workingand some things aren't working.But that's new, in my opinion.

    • 19:29

      BRENDAN DOOLEY: Some of your early work,especially with the victim offender overlap,were really dead center in the middleof parsing out that element.And I'm wondering, by implication,does that make theorizing about this particularly difficult?

    • 19:45

      JANET LAURITSEN: I think so.Well, it depends what you're tryingto predict in terms of your theoryor trying to understand in terms of your theory.Studying the victim offender overlap was problematic, too,at the time.And if you notice, when we study offenders,

    • 20:08

      JANET LAURITSEN [continued]: we've rarely had information on their victimization and viceversa.And similarly, in studies of victims of crime,there is rarely any information about their offending.That is the case, even though it is the strongestcorrelate of victimization.

    • 20:29

      JANET LAURITSEN [continued]: And it's puzzled me why-- not puzzled completely.But as social scientists, we needto try to figure out what that's about.I don't think we should just ignore this fact.Let's figure out what this is aboutand figure out what factors might moderatethat relationship, because it's certainly not truethat all victims are offenders or vice versa.

    • 20:52

      JANET LAURITSEN [continued]: But there is a strong correlationthat needs to be understandAnd I can't think of any other correlate in criminologyof offending that's so strong and yet not consideredin both models that are out there.But I think that's gotten better.But it's definitely a challenge.

    • 21:15

      JANET LAURITSEN [continued]: But back to the question of theorizing about victimization,it's hard to theorize about thingsthat happen to people, because they're notengaged in necessarily a meaningful action directedtowards that outcome.And so that's because we tend to think about victimization

    • 21:37

      JANET LAURITSEN [continued]: strictly at the individual level,as an individual level matter, like whyare some people more likely to be victims than others.But I think if we think more broadly about victimizationas something that emerges out of situations or social contextor something that has changed in its frequency over time,we can step back and look at it with more objectivity

    • 21:57

      JANET LAURITSEN [continued]: and theorize about it in different ways, kindof like the automobile safety industry.We know there are people who-- we know there are accidents.We know the number of accidents vary over time--that the deaths from traffic accidents go down.We know there's things we can do to help people minimize

    • 22:20

      JANET LAURITSEN [continued]: the harm-- put in seat belts and guardrails and thingslike that.And we also know that there are plenty of people whobring accidents on themselves.But knowing that still means that we can approach the moremacro questions from a different theoretical orientation.

    • 22:41

      JANET LAURITSEN [continued]: So let's figure out how we can reduce this phenomenon'soccurrence as well as reduce the harm resulting from it.

    • 22:49

      BRENDAN DOOLEY: Without involvingthe matter of implied--

    • 22:51

      JANET LAURITSEN: Motivation.

    • 22:52

      BRENDAN DOOLEY: --blame or the motivating element there--the element of volition.

    • 22:56

      JANET LAURITSEN: Exactly.So that's why it's not the same kind of theorizingthat I think most criminalogists areused to doing because they were studying offending [INAUDIBLE].

    • 23:05

      BRENDAN DOOLEY: That's interesting.OK.You also mentioned a little bit herein terms of this multi-level aspect of looking at this.You've done enormous amounts of work on this.I'm thinking back to your chapteron understanding and preventing violence from you and Sampson.

    • 23:25

      BRENDAN DOOLEY [continued]: And 100 pages there, it dices up in a variety of different ways.Is there any potential to overcome those divisionsin terms of levels of measurement?

    • 23:38

      JANET LAURITSEN: Yes, I think so.I think there is a greater appreciation and nowgreater ability to study things in multilevel ways--study incidents nested within persons,persons nested within communities, communities nestedin historical and national contexts.

    • 24:01

      JANET LAURITSEN [continued]: And I think we finally are startingto accumulate a lot of data over the years in victimizationwhere we can take a bigger look at what'sbeen happening over time.So for example, linking individual level theoriesto the larger macro level theories about crime

    • 24:23

      JANET LAURITSEN [continued]: and victimization, that integrationis something that I'm struggling with and working onwith Karen Heimer.She and I are studying long term trends in victimization,trying to link the phenomenon at boththe micro and the macro level.And so that's a big project that we've been working on for years

    • 24:44

      JANET LAURITSEN [continued]: but haven't quite yet finished.

    • 24:47

      BRENDAN DOOLEY: That's very much of an empirical endeavor.I'm wondering if you see or if you would forecastthat producing new theoretical insights,will it upset the status quo or the accumulatedwisdom on particular points?Is it doing that now?

    • 25:06

      JANET LAURITSEN: I don't think it will upset.Well, there's always someone's goingto be upset if they don't like what they find.

    • 25:11

      BRENDAN DOOLEY: Maye upset's the wrong word.Would there have to be some readjustment or refiningto maybe the [INAUDIBLE] theory?

    • 25:17

      JANET LAURITSEN: Yeah, I think so.One of the simplest questions-- because wehaven't had the capacity to study this-- one the simplestquestions is, for example, why is a particular correlateassociated with victimization risk at the individual level?So why, for instance, are males at higher riskfor general violent victimization and certainly

    • 25:39

      JANET LAURITSEN [continued]: stranger violent victimization?And we theorize about that excessively, and yet havenever asked the question, has that gap changed over time?Because we haven't had the data thatinvolved a consistent methodology over time,

    • 25:59

      JANET LAURITSEN [continued]: which would allow us to say, that gap is closed now.And that suggests that the meaningof gender or the [AUDIO GAP] and assorted correlates of beingmale or female in the United Stateshas changed in some way over the last 40 years,because what used to be a very large gap is now gone.

    • 26:23

      JANET LAURITSEN [continued]: And so that forces someone who's been stuck strictlyin an individual level method of saying,something else is going on here.It can't just be all individual factorsassociated with some inherent gender characteristic.Something bigger is going on here.So what we're trying to do is we're trying to study things

    • 26:47

      JANET LAURITSEN [continued]: differently, in the sense that we're trying to study peoplenested in time and history and ask whether there's been--well, first of all, whether there'sbeen a decline in significance of gender,decline in significance of race, decliningor not declining significance of poverty,

    • 27:07

      JANET LAURITSEN [continued]: on terms of the distribution of victimizationin the population.And that requires us to link both, what we call,micro data-- person data-- to what's going on in the nation.It's been quite an enormous challenge.Fortunately we have help also from Jo Langat the University of Iowa.

    • 27:29

      BRENDAN DOOLEY: Does the BJS facilitate someof that kind of--

    • 27:33

      JANET LAURITSEN: No, that work actuallywas supported by NIJ and then later by NSF.BJS work has facilitated other projects, but not those.

    • 27:48

      BRENDAN DOOLEY: OK.We'll touch on that in a moment here.Before we do so, a little bit more about the intellectualinterplay between various camps, if you will.A lot of your work is at the crossroadsof offending and victimization here and victimologyand criminology.

    • 28:08

      BRENDAN DOOLEY [continued]: You've written a little bit-- there'sa really interesting piece that you did-- maybe sixpages in the Journal of Quantitative Criminologyat one point.It was maybe five, six years ago.Will you give a really nice renditionhere of how criminology's benefited from victimologyand how much you were encouraging criminalityto begin the process of incorporating

    • 28:29

      BRENDAN DOOLEY [continued]: more victimology into it?Can you give us a little bit moreabout the developments in terms of--

    • 28:34

      JANET LAURITSEN: Thanks for reading that.I've found over the years, and maybe it's less so today,that when you say study of victimization,it's almost like, oh, you just study this small aspectof crime.That's not really the important aspect,which is offender motivation.

    • 29:00

      JANET LAURITSEN [continued]: And then there's-- so much criminology is based on datathat goes beyond consideration of what victims have to sayabout crime.And so what I tried to do in that piece is say, look,here are at least 100 things that we know about crimethat we wouldn't know about crime if it weren'tfor the fact that the wise persons on the President'sCommission of Crime 1967 decided we need more data on crime,

    • 29:25

      JANET LAURITSEN [continued]: besides police data.And it led to the development of the National CrimePanel, National Crime Survey.And from that, we learned how muchcrime's reported to the police, how much crime involvesvictim offender of different constellations, howmuch involves weapons, how much is this or that.

    • 29:45

      JANET LAURITSEN [continued]: And with those kinds of data, we can study-- in no other waythat I can think of-- for example,whether police arrest data are biased.And so I think most criminologistshave incorporated all that information into them

    • 30:08

      JANET LAURITSEN [continued]: without thinking that that actually is from victimizationresearch that we know that.It's not from studies of offenders.It's another source of data about crime.And it just happens to be the victim's perspective ratherthan the criminal justice system's perspectiveor the offender's perspective.

    • 30:28

      JANET LAURITSEN [continued]: It's actually how crime looks to victims, which are much morecommon than offenders.

    • 30:36

      BRENDAN DOOLEY: I'm wondering if,from an outsider looking into victimology here,if the fact that the NCVS is such a dominant resource,and many perceive it to be atheoretical in terms of thingsthat it draws from, largely because it's so politicallycharged that it's just a basic descriptive, analytic piece.

    • 31:00

      BRENDAN DOOLEY [continued]: Does that limit the ability of victimologyto introduce items that that woulddistract the criminological ears being interesting?

    • 31:12

      JANET LAURITSEN: I think that argument is certainly out therebut that it's sort of misinformed and out of datenow, fortunately, as there was some truth to it for some time.I think there are lots of things thatcould be done with the data if it's used creatively.And fortunately right now, the agency, BJS,

    • 31:34

      JANET LAURITSEN [continued]: is undergoing a massive redesign of the NCVS for the future.And this involves a lot of caretakingand a lot of assessments of what doesneed to be included on there, what can be included on there,what's the purpose of the survey, what the costrestraints are on the survey, how much error would

    • 31:58

      JANET LAURITSEN [continued]: this kind of change in the methodologyintroduce into the estimates-- allthose kinds of complex issues have to be thought out verycarefully-- this has been going on for a couple of yearsnow-- so that the new survey can be more responsive to whatthe government agencies call stakeholders, which include

    • 32:19

      JANET LAURITSEN [continued]: victims groups and victim service providersas well as academics.We're not the only ones with data needs out there.So we can't have everything we want.So we need to make our arguments smart and clear and convincing,too.

    • 32:35

      BRENDAN DOOLEY: You wrote a really nice piece.I think it will help [INAUDIBLE] about the behind the sceneselements there and introducing things like, how do weget information on development disabled, the hatecrimes and the bias crimes and introducing usto some of the elements there and the push and pull of someof those items.

    • 32:58

      BRENDAN DOOLEY [continued]: Is that going to play itself out here again?Or what kinds of things are--

    • 33:02


    • 33:04

      BRENDAN DOOLEY: Because I suspectthat those aren't necessarily all that interesting or germaneto what a tried and true criminologist mightbe pushing for.

    • 33:14

      JANET LAURITSEN: Right.The criminologists didn't push for any of those at all.Those were victim advocacy effortsand congressional legislature--

    • 33:21

      BRENDAN DOOLEY: Mandates.

    • 33:22

      JANET LAURITSEN: Mandates, exactly.I was so lucky to learn about that.And I'm still learning about that,because I think one of the thingsthat criminologists don't do is spend enough time understandingdata and where it comes from and what the social processes

    • 33:43

      JANET LAURITSEN [continued]: behind this production involve.And when I started working with-- actuallyI'll just back up one second.I started working only with the NCVS rightafter I got tenure, which was fortuitous for mebecause I wasn't interested, as you said.

    • 34:06

      JANET LAURITSEN [continued]: There were limits in the data set.I couldn't think of what I would dowith it that would answer the kinds of questionsI was most interested in at the time, whichwere these contextual, compositional questions.And so when Jan Chaiken was director of BJSand Al Loomstein was PI of the End Culver Project,they had a brokered agreement that

    • 34:26

      JANET LAURITSEN [continued]: would allow some access to the area, identified NCVS.I was tenured, which was fortunate at the timebecause I was allowed to gain access to this data.But the condition was they had to be-- it was a long ordeal.I won't bore anybody with that.

    • 34:47

      JANET LAURITSEN [continued]: But I had to do the research in Pittsburgh and 600 miles awayfrom home and pay for every minute I was on the computer.And so it's stress-producing.And it was very time consuming and tedious.Lots of people who helped me try to get this work done.But it was a long setup time.

    • 35:10

      JANET LAURITSEN [continued]: From the start of the approval processto gain access to this data in a secure facilityto my first publication, it was four years.And that's not the kind of time peoplehave when they're untenured.So once I had done that and I had a series of analysesout of that set, then I started wonderingabout all these methodological decisions that

    • 35:32

      JANET LAURITSEN [continued]: were made by who?How does this happen?Why can't I have a question?Can I get a question on that survey?How does that work?And that's when I applied to BJS for the first fellowship,in which I said I'd like to study

    • 35:54

      JANET LAURITSEN [continued]: the methodological history of the surveyand how it is that these decisions got made.So when they said yes-- this is Larry Greenfeldwho was then director of the agency-- heand my grand were very generous.And they would let me look in their file cabinetsat memos between, say, senators and the Justice

    • 36:14

      JANET LAURITSEN [continued]: Department, between the Census Bureau and the BJS,between LEAA, in the old days.And I was overwhelmed at the behind the scenesinfrastructure and operations and politics

    • 36:34

      JANET LAURITSEN [continued]: that are going on to sustain this surveyand how difficult and challenging it was.And so that social production of knowledgeis something that we just really lack in the field historically.Jim Lynch and Al Biederman-- there'snot many people who know this history.

    • 36:57

      JANET LAURITSEN [continued]: And so it would be nice to get thatdown for posterity's sake someday, because these folks--we all aren't here forever.And that process of just learningwhy did those questions get addedand I can't add my own question, that's what that was about.

    • 37:16

      BRENDAN DOOLEY: Is there any connectionbetween the area identified releaseat that particular point in historyand the more recent route of workthat you've been doing with a colleague at Arizona State--

    • 37:27

      JANET LAURITSEN: Oh, Min Xie?

    • 37:29

      BRENDAN DOOLEY: Yeah, with the MSA work.Is there any real connection between--you didn't learn from that experience,didn't know that it benefited from that,and then it made a concerted effort to--

    • 37:42

      JANET LAURITSEN: Well, interestingly,the metropolitan area, I learned to workwith the metropolitan area data incidentallywhile I was at BJS doing this methodological history.They knew I had worked with the area identified,the statisticians at the time.And they said, here's a data file

    • 38:03

      JANET LAURITSEN [continued]: of the 40 largest MSAs for 20 years that Census put together.And we don't have time to analyze this.Interested?Are you interested in learning this?And I was so, again, so excited that I said yes.And that's how I learned to originally work with the file.And because I had worked with that file,that's how I started working with Min Xie.

    • 38:25

      JANET LAURITSEN [continued]: And she and I had done a few things together with that data.But none of this was planned.I didn't plan NCVS.The only thing I planned was the applicationto BJS, but to try to understand that background information.And then they delivered this data

    • 38:48

      JANET LAURITSEN [continued]: file, which made me very excited.

    • 38:52

      BRENDAN DOOLEY: So this is actually a really nice segueinto an issue or the benefit of being able to work with-- well,you've worked with a veritable who's whoof collaborators-- Rob Sampson, John Luab, Eric Baumer, RichieFelson, Jim Lynch, Julie Horney, and Karen Heimer, most

    • 39:14

      BRENDAN DOOLEY [continued]: recently.Could you speak to us about those interactionsand how that's produced--

    • 39:20

      JANET LAURITSEN: It's amazing to mewhen I think back how I got so lucky.None of it was planned.That's all I can say is that none of it was planned.I'm not sure if these kinds of things can happen anymore.The world was much smaller.The criminological world was much smaller back then.Rob Sampson, I didn't go to Illinois to study with him.

    • 39:41

      JANET LAURITSEN [continued]: He came after I was there.How lucky was that?And actually, the reason I met Johnis that-- John Laub-- is that he and Rob Sampsonwere working together.They had just discovered the Glueck data.And I was working for Rob on the British Crime Survey Project.

    • 40:02

      JANET LAURITSEN [continued]: And I didn't have a job after graduation, because it was,again, the recession of the early 90s--or late 80s, early 90s.There weren't many jobs.He said, well, we're working on a grant.We'll write you in as post-doc, and if we get lucky,

    • 40:23

      JANET LAURITSEN [continued]: you'll have some work to do.John was a consultant on that post-doc.And so that's how we got hooked up on the victim offenderoverlap stuff.And they were very young then.They're only a couple years older than me.They became great friends.

    • 40:45

      JANET LAURITSEN [continued]: But they're also very smart.So how lucky is that to have very smart, thoughtfulcolleagues at a young age?But then-- oh, Eric Baumer and Rich Felson, Julie Horney--Rich Felson and Julie Horney I startedworking with through Encover.

    • 41:05

      JANET LAURITSEN [continued]: I met them at Encover.And they were interested in doinga paper on some other aspect of the area [INAUDIBLE].

    • 41:11

      BRENDAN DOOLEY: Well, I think you were doing somethingwith Elijah Anderson stuff, which was really kind of cool.

    • 41:16

      JANET LAURITSEN: Find out whether or notcrime is any different in just the highly disadvantaged areasversus the nature of crimes that are different there.So that's how I met them, became friends with them, too.It was fun working with them.Eric Baumer was a masters student.I hired him as a RA one year to do some neighborhood

    • 41:38

      JANET LAURITSEN [continued]: drive-arounds in a local area.And then he left to get his PhD at Albany.And then we hired him when he came back.So he and I worked with NCVS because he and I had alsodone some work with the area identified.And we're still working together.

    • 41:57

      BRENDAN DOOLEY: On that police report studythat's just so comprehensive.

    • 42:00

      JANET LAURITSEN: Right.That's mostly Eric's doing.And then work with Karen Heimer was later in the careerand inevitably, because one of the thingsI had begun to notice in the trend datawas that the gender gap and victimization was closing.

    • 42:22

      JANET LAURITSEN [continued]: And I did not know Karen, even though she and I actuallygraduated at the same time.

    • 42:29

      BRENDAN DOOLEY: She was at Wisconsin, and you were at--

    • 42:31

      JANET LAURITSEN: Right.Illinois.And it was closing.And I wondered what she thought of that,because she had studied the closing of the gender gapin offending.And so I read her piece in the NIJ 2000 Reportand then I think I just contacted her and said,

    • 42:52

      JANET LAURITSEN [continued]: you want to have lunch at ASC?I want to talk about this.Are you interested?I think it took a little bit of convincing.But she's hooked and really smart.And we work very well together.So I'm very happy to have found such another great colleague.

    • 43:16

      BRENDAN DOOLEY: Over the course of your career,and over the course of many people's careers--now oftentime spying as there is resistance or push back,there are, more or less, sacred or ensconced truthsthat sometimes people find upsetting.Have you ever encountered debates or argument or tug

    • 43:36

      BRENDAN DOOLEY [continued]: of war push back dialogue that produces, hopefully,a more enlightened understanding there?

    • 43:44

      JANET LAURITSEN: Yeah, I've gotten into some debateswith people in the literature.And so there are issues that peoplehave become convinced about that one might challenge.

    • 44:06

      JANET LAURITSEN [continued]: And you should expect some push back on that.But ultimately, it's a question of, in my view,it's just a question of a balancing of-- I nevertried, on any of those critiques I've written or replies

    • 44:26

      JANET LAURITSEN [continued]: or comments on data, to take down anybody's body of work.What I tried to do is say, this isn't exactly how I understandit or we understand this issue.And here's why.And we want to bring that to the attention of criminologistsand let them think about it, too, because we're certainlynot the final word on anything.

    • 44:47

      JANET LAURITSEN [continued]: Or I'm not the final word on anything.But there are a lot of issues that I've cared about,like the gender gap and offending victimization,or like the quality of self-report dataand longitudinal data or the availability of publicly

    • 45:09

      JANET LAURITSEN [continued]: funded data sets.They're all important things.

    • 45:12

      BRENDAN DOOLEY: Has there been fruitful debates?Have they produced--

    • 45:14

      JANET LAURITSEN: I think so.I don't think anything bad has happened,other than getting thicker skin.But I think it's been fine.

    • 45:27

      BRENDAN DOOLEY: Have there been changesmaybe that have produced?

    • 45:29

      JANET LAURITSEN: Yeah, sure.Not because of my comments.

    • 45:33

      BRENDAN DOOLEY: Well, I think with maybe someof the re-design aspects of NCVS or some of the thingsthat you may have promoted there.

    • 45:40

      JANET LAURITSEN: Yeah, I think so.I think I've had some impact on that.I certainly have had a lot of discussions about it.And I want to say, though, that in termsof this oral history and researchers and what they doand things, I think it's fascinating.

    • 46:02

      JANET LAURITSEN [continued]: I love watching other people's oral history stories.But I think of the kind of work that I doand science more as a real collective enterprise,especially because of the nature of the dataI've been working with over the last 20 years.There is no single giant upon whom all shoulders stand,

    • 46:23

      JANET LAURITSEN [continued]: or however-- on the shoulders we all stand.And in victimization research, thereare lots of really smart people in this area.And one of the things I've been impressed withis the give and take.And in discussions with statisticians

    • 46:45

      JANET LAURITSEN [continued]: at the Bureau of Justice Statistics,these people are extremely smart, extremely careful,and thoughtful.And so I've learned-- I'm sure I've learned more from themthan they learned from me.And so between all sorts of communications,with not just me but other people, they've come to-- it's

    • 47:07

      JANET LAURITSEN [continued]: come to make improvements, I'm happy to play a small partin that process.But it really is a social process.And I'm just happy to be where someone neededto be victimization right now.

    • 47:23

      BRENDAN DOOLEY: Or just to be called in.

    • 47:25

      JANET LAURITSEN: Just be to called in.Exactly.It's like, well, here's some cool thingsthat I think have happened.And that's really exciting.And oh, that's kind of exciting, but here'swhy I don't think that's going to work.Given my use of the data so far, here'sthe problems you're going to run into thatare pretty formidable.

    • 47:45

      JANET LAURITSEN [continued]: And that's the kind of thing that they like to hear.They like to say, well, can we just talkto you about what you got from trying to do this--what hurdles you run into.And so I think that I certainly haven't had an agendaon that, because they work in a different environment

    • 48:07

      JANET LAURITSEN [continued]: than academics do.And they have their own constraintsthat they have to make decisions under,as opposed to us with unlimited freedoms.

    • 48:17

      BRENDAN DOOLEY: So it's sort of a self-reflective questionhere, in a way.Looking back on your career, are therethings that you look back on with a measure of satisfactionthat that's something there that I'm reallyproud to have produced that may have had some impact in termsof maybe development of the field?What would those items maybe be?

    • 48:40

      JANET LAURITSEN: Yeah, I'm happy to havebeen studying some of the right thingsat some of the right times.And I think I'm really pleased that I almostdidn't have enough sense to know I shouldn't be studyingthe victim offender overlap, because that's

    • 49:05

      JANET LAURITSEN [continued]: led to a lot of-- certainly a lot of citations,but also a lot of thinking about what is it that connectsthese two phenomenon and how can we maybestop it-- the connection.So I'm pleased to have helped revive that early tradition.

    • 49:28

      JANET LAURITSEN [continued]: I'm also pleased that some of the work that I'vedone on methodological issues and longitudinal datahas gotten serious attention.Again, I'm not the first person who pointed that out.But I think I was struck by how much we all assume

    • 49:51

      JANET LAURITSEN [continued]: about the quality of our data.We take a methods course.We read a couple books.And we think, fine, there's nothing elseI got to worry about.

    • 49:59

      BRENDAN DOOLEY: But that came pretty farinto the progression of the celebration,almost, of longitudinal research that became very dominant.And here you are saying, oh, there might be this thing.

    • 50:10

      JANET LAURITSEN: And here's somethingwe should figure out right before we move furtherwith a lot of money.Why is this happening?And what does it mean?And how is it biasing our results or misinforming us?And that-- I think I've seen online recently the paper that

    • 50:33

      JANET LAURITSEN [continued]: revisits the issue with other data sets,because it may have been a unique phenomenain the particular data I was looking at,although it certainly appears in the National CrimeVictimization Survey to a lesser extent.It may be a function of just the age groupof people being interviewed.It may be a function of other things.So I'm happy that it's caused people

    • 50:55

      JANET LAURITSEN [continued]: maybe to slow down and think, at least, about those issues.But I'm not sure if it's changed practice much,because still, longitudinal designs,I believe they have value for some questions.But I'm happy that I was able to make that area identified NCVSproject work.I was never confident that it was going to be successful.

    • 51:17

      JANET LAURITSEN [continued]: I'd worked with Brian Wiersma of Maryland--a violence research group in Maryland.If it not for him and a few others,that wouldn't have happened.That, I thought, was a big accomplishment,in terms of just sheer persistence and stubbornness.

    • 51:39

      JANET LAURITSEN [continued]: And then I'm also happy about the long term trendstuff I'm doing with Karen and the micro data analysis projectthat we are trying to do.It's a big task.We don't know if it's going to be terribly successful.

    • 51:52

      BRENDAN DOOLEY: It seems almost monumental.You're going back to 1973 here and combining two data setsthat weren't necessarily intendedto be merged with one another.

    • 52:01

      JANET LAURITSEN: Well, we've done it.We've got over seven million areas linked for peoplein the US for 40 years now.So that doesn't mean we haven't run into a massive setof other problems.And one of them-- it's not the sheer mechanicsof statistics of it.It's really the lack of clear guidance

    • 52:25

      JANET LAURITSEN [continued]: [INAUDIBLE] about what we should expect to find.What should we expect to find about whether or notrace is [AUDIO OUT] significant in terms of victimization.We don't have this many historical theoriesin criminology.They're all pretty ahistorical.

    • 52:48

      JANET LAURITSEN [continued]: We're still talking about theories that were developedin the 30s as if they apply.The concepts certainly apply.But the incorporation of history into itis not well-laid out in the literature.So we're having to think back and forth.Fortunately, Karen and I are both similarly

    • 53:09

      JANET LAURITSEN [continued]: trained as sociologists in the field.And so we think--

    • 53:14

      BRENDAN DOOLEY: Along similar lines, maybe.

    • 53:16

      JANET LAURITSEN: Right.It's not totally hopeless.We should be able to come to some agreement about howto approach these issues.But it's a fun project.It's exciting.We know nobody else is doing it.I like doing things that nobody else is doing.But then finding out there's a reason nobody else

    • 53:36

      JANET LAURITSEN [continued]: is doing anything.

    • 53:38

      BRENDAN DOOLEY: It's just the investmentin terms of familiarizing yourself, immersing yourselfwith completely disparate and foreign literaturesalmost, and then beginning the process of, piece by piece,incorporating that, embedding thatin the mainstream of criminologiesis absolutely mind boggling almost.

    • 53:55

      JANET LAURITSEN: Well, we're not done.That's for sure.And it's probably going to take the rest of our careersto wrap that up.And as soon as we get it figured out, history will change thingsand we're right back where we started.But I am proud of that accomplishment.And again, it's not-- but it was sheer just us and hard work.

    • 54:18

      JANET LAURITSEN [continued]: It was that we both happen to be tenured and professorsin the system that will allow us to take risks like that.

    • 54:28

      BRENDAN DOOLEY: You spoke about a coupleof different elements of your overall repertoire.Do you see those as discrete and nowyou want to move on from sibling criminalityto maybe co-offending to now repeat victimization?Or do you see them all as a coherent-- is there

    • 54:51

      BRENDAN DOOLEY [continued]: an overarching theme there in your own imagination thatdefines or links these elements?

    • 54:56

      JANET LAURITSEN: That's a good question.I think there have been several themes.But I'm not exactly sure what they are.The one theme is that if you're going to study something,you should study it every which way possible, iswhat I believe.So if you're going to study victimization,

    • 55:18

      JANET LAURITSEN [continued]: or if you're going to study whatever specific crime type,you should know every single thingthere is out there to try to know about itand to approach it from different anglesto convince yourself that your understanding is solid--that you understand the limits of what you knowas well as the strengths of what you know.

    • 55:42

      JANET LAURITSEN [continued]: But in terms of substantive themes, I'm really interested--and Karen and I are working on this--we're really interested in this distribution of victimization.If people are suffering the consequences of crime,that's not randomly distributed.How do these broader social forces,

    • 56:02

      JANET LAURITSEN [continued]: like history and neighborhood and poverty and inequality,structure that distribution?And how has that changed over time?We're looking at-- because if we findthat it's the exact same thing it's been for over the last 40

    • 56:24

      JANET LAURITSEN [continued]: years, no different now than it was in 1973,that's a pretty important finding that these are fixed--these factors are of fixed importance in American society.But like I say, I don't think we're finding that.Things are changing in the distribution, like the gender

    • 56:46

      JANET LAURITSEN [continued]: gap, primarily because men are much safer than theywere in the past.Women are safer, but they don't have as far-- theydidn't need to come down quite as far, in termsof stranger violence anymore.

    • 56:59

      BRENDAN DOOLEY: Then we really needto see that that body of empirical moniesoverlaid with the criminological moniesand see how that-- that just whets my appetite here in termsof all sorts of intellectual development.Now throughout the interview, youhave suggested at various points there that you fell into things

    • 57:20

      BRENDAN DOOLEY [continued]: or it was fortuitous or you did thingsthat, in retrospect, you've thoughtmight not have been the best thingto do at a particular juncture.If you had any advice to offer to the next generationof scholar here, in terms of things to door things to maybe avoid here, what kinds of thingswould you point to?

    • 57:40

      JANET LAURITSEN: Well, my first answer would be,I'm the worst career advisor, because I never had a plan.I never planned-- I couldn't havepredicted where I would end up.

    • 57:51

      BRENDAN DOOLEY: Was that a good thing, though?

    • 57:52

      JANET LAURITSEN: For my case, it was.But I was fortunate.It's not a good strategy, I don't think, for advice.But the only thing-- I was tryingto think what it is that lets a scholar make a contribution.And it's a focus, I think-- a focus on a particular topic,

    • 58:16

      JANET LAURITSEN [continued]: and not just crime as a general topic.But whatever it is you're interested in about crime,stay with it.And don't give up when you think you're out of data.Or don't give up when you think nobody else hasa data set for you to do a secondary data analysis on.Stick with the topic, because otherwise,

    • 58:40

      JANET LAURITSEN [continued]: I don't see how you can claim that you're an expert in 25areas or even five areas.I can hardly keep up with the victimization literaturemyself.And that's just this narrowly defined component.So that's the only I would say.Once I found it, there are other aspects to it.

    • 59:01

      JANET LAURITSEN [continued]: But I really wanted to stay tight here and notgo back to, say, studies of family dynamicsor strain theory or something, unless itwas to inform the victimization studies.

    • 59:17

      BRENDAN DOOLEY: Maybe one way to re-approachthis question or re-frame it wouldbe to ask, how do you always land on your feetwhen you go from one thing to another?What is that element that makes you successful?

    • 59:31

      JANET LAURITSEN: Besides luck?Our criminology models can barelyexplain 30% of the variance in anybody's outcome.So I think the same is true here in careers.

    • 59:42

      BRENDAN DOOLEY: Is it because you find a new question thatpeople that find interesting?Or is it do you cultivate new areas?Is it a methodology, maybe, that you havethat applies in one area that--

    • 59:54

      JANET LAURITSEN: I'm not sure.What's happened to me is I can probablylink every article to a prior article--to a problem that arose in a prior article.So if you start with an interesting topic,one result leads to another set of questions.

    • 01:00:16

      JANET LAURITSEN [continued]: And so for example, I never intendedto study the artifact, the declines,and the self-reports of victimization and delinquency.That was never my intention.What I wanted to do is study the victim offender overlap overtime within individuals to see whether there were persons

    • 01:00:37

      JANET LAURITSEN [continued]: stuck in this linked status or whether people reallydid use a lot of delinquency to protect themselves,if youth did that.So I then began, OK, I'm going to look at the data this waynow.And then I ran into a huge problemI couldn't figure out how to overcome, which led me to ask,what's going on?Why is this the problem?

    • 01:00:58

      JANET LAURITSEN [continued]: And the same with the gender gap and the closing of the gendergap in offending and the NCBS debate--when Karen and I were doing it, wewere trying to understand, why is the victimization gender gapclosing?And maybe it's because the gap's closing in offending.And again, we looked at the data and we're like,

    • 01:01:20

      JANET LAURITSEN [continued]: we're not finding what other people have found with it.Why would that be the case?We can't move forward on our original problemuntil we solve this other problem.That's what I think probably most of my researchis, is attempts to solve a previous problem that Iran into in another article.

    • 01:01:35

      BRENDAN DOOLEY: It sounds as if the trickis to have the questions ask themselves.

    • 01:01:39

      JANET LAURITSEN: That's a good way of putting it.

    • 01:01:41

      BRENDAN DOOLEY: It's just interesting the way that works.

    • 01:01:44

      JANET LAURITSEN: Well, try not to ignore the ones thatare hitting you in the face.You can't say, OK, I'm just not going to mention that anymore.I don't want to deal with that mess I just created over there.I'm going to pretend that never happenedand move on to another topic.It's just not going to work.

    • 01:02:00

      BRENDAN DOOLEY: Speaking of the mentoring process, or maybeadvice to the people in the abstract.Certainly in the specific, you have offered advice.You've coauthored with a number of folks, some of whichI went to school with here-- Nicole White, KatrinaArchicova, Robert Shell, Dina Carson, and most recently, MaryBeth Rizay.Hopefully I got that right.

    • 01:02:23

      BRENDAN DOOLEY [continued]: Can you speak to us about the mentoring processand how that works and bringing along new scholars?

    • 01:02:34

      JANET LAURITSEN: Not well.I love to work with students who are obsessed with detailand who are interested in victimizationand who really enjoy that sort of the same data, geeky stuff,

    • 01:02:58

      JANET LAURITSEN [continued]: nerd stuff that I enjoy, because that's my strength.And I feel like I have something to offer them.But it's a mutual blending for us.It's not that I don't feel like I--I'm loathe to use the word mentor,because I really feel like I'm trainingthem to work the way that I think will work best

    • 01:03:18

      JANET LAURITSEN [continued]: for someone over their career.And that's changed for me over time.So I hope I'm doing a better job of that now than I did 10,20 years ago with students.I also work with more assistant professors.And I wouldn't call that mentoring either.That's a collaboration.

    • 01:03:39

      JANET LAURITSEN [continued]: And so I'll tell them what I know,but I'm still learning from them.And if I feel like I have somethingto contribute to them, then I'll spend my time with them.If I feel like they can do it without me,I'll tell them straight out, you don't need me on this.I'll be happy to read a draft.But you don't need me on this.

    • 01:03:59

      JANET LAURITSEN [continued]: You've got this one.I'm not looking for a higher publication countat this point in my career.I just want people to tackle some really substantiveproblems and difficult problems.The easy stuff's been picked over now.It's time to study harder things.

    • 01:04:23

      BRENDAN DOOLEY: Part of the interestfor me, on the interviewer end of the spectrum here,is being generally ignorant of thingsand coming in, getting to ask somebody, teach me about this.Can you give me a little bit about whatyou do for BJS in terms of-- my picturehere, correct me if I'm wrong, certainly-- is that it'svery much policy oriented.

    • 01:04:45

      BRENDAN DOOLEY [continued]: And I want you to maybe you speak to the policy hatyou wear and how that interacts with the academic sideof your genre.

    • 01:04:54

      JANET LAURITSEN: Well, that is a mysterious process.I thought so, too, when I applied for it.I had no idea what I was getting into.But actually it's not policy at all,unless we mean it very broadly and talk about data analysisand policy or questions that can be analyzed with the data.BJS is a special organization in that

    • 01:05:16

      JANET LAURITSEN [continued]: they're not allowed to say anything beyond the data.And so when I went there, they werelooking to generate reports to maximizethe utility of this data set.They were looking to see, what can the data support if youlook at the metropolitan area?What can the data support if you look at this question?

    • 01:05:37

      JANET LAURITSEN [continued]: Can we answer this question with that?And what I do with them has changed over time.The first time it was methodological historyin the MSA level.The second time it was the financial crisisthat was facing the survey.

    • 01:05:58

      JANET LAURITSEN [continued]: And they thought they were going to need to either foldit, which would be a massive loss not just for researchersbut for the country, I was convinced,not to have a data set about crime, other than whatthe police say.And so they had me do a series of meetings with people,

    • 01:06:22

      JANET LAURITSEN [continued]: methodologists, to say, let's have some meetings at BJS.Will you organize them?Will you set up the agendas?Will you help us discuss the issues in the NCVS--the methodological issues-- and whether we can save any moneyor what we have to do next.So that another very different type of project.But I learned so much from it.

    • 01:06:43

      JANET LAURITSEN [continued]: That's why I kept doing these things.Every time I would ask someone a question,I learned something there.Nice to get out of the academy.That then ended.And then BJS decided they wanted a full review by the NationalAcademy of Sciences at both the NCVS and their total programs.

    • 01:07:05

      JANET LAURITSEN [continued]: And I was asked to serve on that panel.Jim Lynch was on that panel, Wes Kogan, Colin Lofton, Bob Gross,who was the director of Census Bureau, et cetera.There were lots of people on the panel.And so we did those two tests.Those took a couple of years.And during that time, I had no contact with BJS,given the nature of the fact that I was evaluating

    • 01:07:26

      JANET LAURITSEN [continued]: what they did meant that I couldn'thave contact with them.Then after that was over, this panelhanded BJS this report that said,here's what you should do at the NCVSand here's how you should go about doing it.And in that sense, it was a policy document

    • 01:07:49

      JANET LAURITSEN [continued]: to the agency about how to make the data as useful,as efficient, and as important as it can be.So then after that was released, what was shocking to all of uson the panel, first of all, [INAUDIBLE]that one of the members, Jim Lynch,

    • 01:08:12

      JANET LAURITSEN [continued]: became Obama's appointee to head the agency.The other chair of the panel, Bob Gross,became Obama's appointee to head the Census Bureau.And then, of course, they had this document in their hands,say here's what the National Academydid in their extensive review.They told us this is what we need to do.We need to do this.And that's when they got the infusion of money

    • 01:08:37

      JANET LAURITSEN [continued]: from Congress to redesign the survey.So how lucky was that to actually be on a committeewhere you think about things and the document actually getused by the agency to do it?So in that sense, it was a policy.But that work on the panel-- I was not part of the agency

    • 01:08:59

      JANET LAURITSEN [continued]: then.So then I went back and started to helpthem answer the little questions thatcould be answered with the available data,like how should we measure repeat victimizationor prevalence of victimization and maximize the utility?So in that sense, it's mostly methodological and substantive.At NIJ, it's policy.

    • 01:09:20

      JANET LAURITSEN [continued]: At BJS, it's just the facts.No interpretation.

    • 01:09:27

      BRENDAN DOOLEY: We've spoken at length about the collaborators,more the professional sense.But we'd be remiss if we didn't pay heed to Rick.He mentioned some bouncing ideas off of youand that producing some important results.And I noticed more of your recent work,especially with Karen Heimer, has borrowedsome of this issue of consumer sentiment and factoring

    • 01:09:49

      BRENDAN DOOLEY [continued]: in to the equation all these economic factors.And I'm curious as to how much of--

    • 01:09:58

      JANET LAURITSEN: He's had a great deal of influenceon my work.I'm sure I wouldn't be doing trends work,the way I'm doing it, if it wasn't for his researchin the area of crime trends and his approach.In fact, we never worked together, asidefrom the context piece.

    • 01:10:19

      JANET LAURITSEN [continued]: But when Karen and I were workingon some of our early trends piece,we found that he and Steve Messner in Crimeand the American Dream had already made some predictionsabout gender gap and offending, whichwe were surprised to find.And then I started thinking, well, maybe Ishould talk to him more about his work, because we

    • 01:10:41

      JANET LAURITSEN [continued]: don't have the time to review and read each other's work.We both have our own academic worlds.But we have many conversations.And most recently, he's chairing a roundtable of the NationalAcademy on crime trends.And so I'm on that round table because

    • 01:11:03

      JANET LAURITSEN [continued]: of the victimization trend data that I have that are unique.And so I benefit a great deal from not just having himas a colleague and in my own home,but also as a colleague in Washington, too,in the setting where he's bringing in all sorts of ideas

    • 01:11:23

      JANET LAURITSEN [continued]: about crime trends and how to study them and betterunderstand them.But he has convinced me-- reaffirmed my decision thatit's worth it to stick with the crime trend stuff-- again,another thing that not enough people are studyingin criminology, because we focus so much on the individual levelof analysis rather than--

    • 01:11:43

      BRENDAN DOOLEY: That ahistorical elementthat you mentioned earlier on in the interview.

    • 01:11:47

      JANET LAURITSEN: Exactly.We need to take time more seriouslyand history more seriously in our disciplineand begin assessing things that way.

    • 01:12:00

      BRENDAN DOOLEY: I suppose the penultimate question hereis, general thoughts on this intellectual state of the fieldor professional state of the field.Where are we headed in promising directions?Maybe you want to point to something there that youthink needs more attention.

    • 01:12:16

      JANET LAURITSEN: Yeah, I do actually.I'm working on a panel for the Academy that'swith Jim Lynch and many others.And he and I just wrote a piece for the Criminologistabout modernizing the nation's crime statistics.This is an effort that the Academy's put together

    • 01:12:38

      JANET LAURITSEN [continued]: to try to modernize the entire suite of crime statisticsthat we have in this country.And I think it's a shame that all wehave is NCVS and police data.

    • 01:12:55

      BRENDAN DOOLEY: I'm thinking of Rick's presidential wherehe prefaces a lot of this with the-- back whenthe ECR was created, you can get this data relatively quickly.And now the NCVS uses the time honored traditionof paper and pencil.

    • 01:13:08

      JANET LAURITSEN: No, that used to be our guys.Yes.

    • 01:13:10

      BRENDAN DOOLEY: That contemporary day and age,it's mystifying.

    • 01:13:14

      JANET LAURITSEN: Well, so those systems need to be modernized.But the entire approach needs to be modernized.And what happens is-- this is reality of the profession.What criminologists study is what their data is alreadyavailable for.And what we don't know and should know much more about

    • 01:13:36

      JANET LAURITSEN [continued]: is enormous in terms of crime.We're talking about everything from white collarcrime to government corruption to war crimes to Medicaid fraudto mortgage fraud to all sorts of crimesthat are some regulatory, some crimes,

    • 01:13:59

      JANET LAURITSEN [continued]: but for which we have not the slightestclue, as a country, whether these are going up or down.And the future of criminology, I think,lies in the new innovations in those areas.Street crime, violent crime, and property crime,in the US at least, appear to be moving

    • 01:14:22

      JANET LAURITSEN [continued]: toward historic low levels of [INAUDIBLE] to me.Of course, we still have some problems.But property as crime seems to havebeen responding to target hardening and efforts.And we can harden our targets quite a bit.But there's new technologies for committing

    • 01:14:43

      JANET LAURITSEN [continued]: crime and new technologies for tryingto solve crime-- new types of crimes emerging thatstill involve the use of force or fraud.But we're not on top of it as a disciplinebecause of the way we train our graduate studentsto do second-- we have to do some of that.But we still also, I think, need to encourage them to please,

    • 01:15:06

      JANET LAURITSEN [continued]: think seriously about what crime isgoing to look like in 10 years from now.

    • 01:15:10

      BRENDAN DOOLEY: So that involves going out and getting new dataand asking new questions, as opposed to-- wehave a pretty-- relative to, I suppose, internet crime.We have a pretty good handle on burglary.

    • 01:15:24

      JANET LAURITSEN: But there's all sortsof issues that are very challenging, like how do youcount things like that?How do you count hacking attempts?How do you count crime in which two million people's accountsare breached?

    • 01:15:42

      BRENDAN DOOLEY: Is that one instance or--

    • 01:15:44

      JANET LAURITSEN: --or two million.Or is it one offender or how many offenders?How do you count crime that as victims in the United Statesbut originates in another country?How do we develop-- we're going to have to bemore international over time.We're going to have to work more internationally.How are we going to think about these things

    • 01:16:05

      JANET LAURITSEN [continued]: and theorize these things and build the infrastructure thatallows us to know anything about these new forms?And it's going to have to happen quickly.So that's part of the task of this panelis to try to think about getting ready for the next-- buildingthe infrastructure for the next century of what crime is goingto be like.

    • 01:16:25

      JANET LAURITSEN [continued]: You can imagine, for example, with technology developmentsand things like drones that personscan commit crimes remotely.Someone could do something dangerous to people or propertyremotely.You don't even have to be connected to the person.

    • 01:16:45

      JANET LAURITSEN [continued]: So those kinds of issues are going to involveand going to require a lot of creativityon the part of criminologists.Or they're going to be left behind,catching up in the future.So that's what I think the field needs to do.It really needs to turn toward the understudied crimes

    • 01:17:10

      JANET LAURITSEN [continued]: and really put our best talent out there for those things.

    • 01:17:17

      BRENDAN DOOLEY: Last question-- anything that we missed or thatyou'd like to include on the record that the--

    • 01:17:23

      JANET LAURITSEN: Oh, gosh.I don't think so.This was less painful than I expected it to be,so That's on the record.

    • 01:17:30

      BRENDAN DOOLEY: Well, it's been very informative.It's been very educational learningabout how victimology fits in with the larger firmament.Your growth as a scholar-- some of the things that you'vedone that have been beneficial, adviceto folks in future generations.So we'd like to thank you for your time here.

    • 01:17:45

      JANET LAURITSEN: Thanks.Thanks for asking me.It's an honor.Thank you very much.[MUSIC PLAYING]

An Interview with Janet Lauritsen

View Segments Segment :


Brendan Dooley interviews Professor Janet Lauritsen about her career. Lauritsen is a renowned scholar of victimization with additional background in research methods. She has worked extensively with the National Crime Victimization Survey, both as a researcher and as a panel member helping redesign the study.

An Interview with Janet Lauritsen

Brendan Dooley interviews Professor Janet Lauritsen about her career. Lauritsen is a renowned scholar of victimization with additional background in research methods. She has worked extensively with the National Crime Victimization Survey, both as a researcher and as a panel member helping redesign the study.

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