Each month, the Office of Sponsored Programs will spotlight a different PI and their research. If you are interested in being featured in our next spotlight, please email  . Please be sure to provide us with an abstract (3-5 paragraphs) about your research, explanation of your recent project, the amount your project (s) were funded for, special events that you are hosting or coordinating, obstacles or challenges you faced during the application process, if applicable, and a photo of yourself .   

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David C. Brotherton, Ph.D., Professor Department of Sociology

Dr. David C. Brotherton is a Professor in the Department of Sociology at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. Shortly after earning his Ph.D., he began work on street gang subcultures. In 1994, Dr. Brotherton came to John Jay where he continued his research and teaching on youth resistance, marginalization and deportation cofounding the Street Organization Project in 1997.

Currently, Dr. Brotherton is working on the Credible Messenger Evaluation Project, a two-year collaborative evaluation project of the Credible Messenger Initiative (CMI) which is a new juvenile justice reform initiative of the Youth Rehabilitation Services (DYRS) in Washington D.C. CMI is a major program by DYRS seen as a key
ingredient of its Positive Justice approach to youth rehabilitation. The major goals of the CMI are to enable adjudicated youth to build their social and cognitive capacities as part of a holistic process of societal rehabilitation and reintegration. Credible messengers are trusted members of the community recruited to the initiative based on their experience of the criminal justice system. Those recruited will potentially play key roles in the capacity building of such youth through deepening their connections to the community and providing appropriate kinds of social support and mentorship. A second complementary aspect of CMI is the establishment of “parent peer counseling” to further enhance the mentorship of youth and increase their attachments to their communities and families. This intervention is one of the most far-reaching of its kind in the United States, under the direction of Clinton Lacey, the former deputy director of the Department of Probation in New York City. The primary goal of the project is to provide DYRS with a comprehensive evaluation of the CMI’s effectiveness in: (i) improving the capacity-building of youth in the program; (ii) deepening youth’s ties to both the community and the family; and (iii) enabling youth to become peacemakers in their own community. In a period of nationwide interest in juvenile justice reform and effective policies in reducing youth recidivism the results of this project and its evaluation will provide the bases for a major intervention in the ongoing debate as we disseminate our empirical, analytical and theoretical conclusions.

Dr. Brotherton is also working on the Ecuador Public Security, Social Inclusion and Homicide Project, a qualitative research study of the role of street gangs in the dramatic drop in homicide rates in the Republic of Ecuador. Based on more than two decades of previous research in Ecuador (including a 2015-16 enhanced award funded by PSC-CUNY), the U.S. and Europe, Dr. Brotherton argues that the role of street gangs, normally assumed to be contributors to the rise of societal violence, under certain conditions could change significantly. In the context of Ecuador their observed transformation could be having a dampening effect on rates of homicide as inter-gang conflicts declined due to the success of the state’s social inclusionary model of delinquency prevention and a process of political empowerment engaged in by the gangs. The research team has concluded more than forty interviews with members from three street organizations with a major role played by the Almighty Latin King and Queen Nation of Ecuador, some of whose leading members have important functions in the Ministry of Justice. The potential impact of the research data will significantly increase the understanding of the potential roles of such groups in efforts to curb violence in a region that continues to lead the world in this form of crime.

Earlier this year a Spanish translation of Dr. Brotherton’s text with Luis Barrios, “The Almighty Latin King and Queen Nation: The Transformation of a New York City Street Gang” was published as “Las Pandillas Como Movimiento Social” (Gangs as a Social Movement). The response to the book was so overwhelming that a course in Critical Criminology in Spanish was developed with a proposed launch date of January 2018. Among his other recent books are Street Gangs: A Critical Appraisal; Banished to the Homeland: Dominican Deportees and Their Stories of Exile, with Luis Barrios; and Keeping Out The Other: A Critical Introduction to Immigration Control. Dr. Brotherton is also the editor of the "Studies in Transgression" book series at Columbia University Press. In 2003 and 2004 Dr. Brotherton co-organized the first academic conferences on deportation in the Caribbean and the United States respectively. He received the Praxis award for contributions to social justice from the Critical Criminology Section of the American Society of Criminology in 2015, was named Critical Criminologist of the Year in 2011 and won the Choices award for "Keeping Out the Other" in 2008. He has also been nominated for the 2011 George Orwell Prize in England and the C. Wright Mills Award in the United States.