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Faculty Spotlight: Megan Denver

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Meet Professor Megan Denver!

Denver is a recent and distinguished addition to the faculty at the Northeastern University School of Criminology and Criminal Justice. Denver developed a keen understanding of the criminal justice system through advancing her education and immersing herself in complex research. She received her Ph.D. in criminal justice from the University at Albany and her master’s degree in sociology from the University of Delaware. During her freshman year in college, Denver discovered her inclination toward the field of criminal justice. She recalls taking introductory level courses in a variety of disciplines to get a better sense of her interests. From there, she began seeking out additional sociology and criminal justice courses that formed the foundation of her path today.

As a professor, Denver wants to help criminal justice majors grasp the excitement behind and the importance of research, careers, and coverage within the field. She believes a narrow set of images often comes to mind when individuals think of criminal justice, but the field is much larger, more diverse, and more complex than many realize. She advises current and prospective students alike to meet with different professionals to gain a more thorough understanding of possibilities in criminology and criminal justice. She is also an advocate for tracking policy changes and developments in the news, as this can help students expose themselves to agencies or careers that may be of interest to them.

Northeastern University’s focus on experiential learning ties into Denver’s suggestions and provides a unique avenue for students to achieve a deeper understanding of the field via co-op positions. The variety of co-ops available demonstrate the true diversity of the major that Denver addresses. Previous criminal justice majors have completed co-ops as youth workers, paralegals, crime analysts, police dispatchers, forensic mental health assistants, legal interns, victim advocates, security officers, background investigators, and more. Denver urges students to explore what’s out there and see for themselves.

Denver was a 2016 National Institute of Justice Graduate Research Fellow, received the 2018 University Distinguished Dissertation Award (University at Albany), previously worked as a research associate at the Urban Institute, and has made several contributions to renowned publications including Criminology, Justice Quarterly, and Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency. The majority of Denver’s research is focused on criminal record stigma, employment and recidivism, credentialing decisions for people with criminal records, and desistance.

After joining the university in 2018, Denver instructed courses in criminal justice at the undergraduate level. She has taught Punishment in the Age of Mass Incarceration, which explores how and why people are punished in American society and how policy decisions led to mass incarceration. Students in the course discuss the challenges that policymakers face as a result of increased punitive policies, such as aging prison populations and rising healthcare costs. Students also discuss the barriers that persons with criminal records encounter after formal punishment has ended. The course closes with a comparison of incarceration strategies in other countries, to encourage critical thinking about the future of punitive policies in the United States.

Learn more about Professor Denver’s work by reading her selected publications below:

  • Lageson, Sarah E., Megan Denver, and Justin T. Pickett. (Forthcoming) “Privatizing Criminal Stigma: Experience, Intergroup Contact, and Public Views about Publicizing Arrest Records.” Punishment & Society.
  • Denver, Megan, and Alec Ewald. 2018. “Credentialing Decisions and Criminal Records: A Narrative Approach.” Criminology 56(4): 715-749.
  • Denver, Megan, Justin T. Pickett, and Shawn D. Bushway. 2018. “Criminal Records and Employment: A Survey of Experiences and Attitudes in the United States.” Justice Quarterly 35(4): 584-613.
  • Denver, Megan, Justin T. Pickett, and Shawn D. Bushway. 2017. “The Language of Stigmatization and the Mark of Violence: Experimental Evidence on the Social Construction and Use of Criminal Record Stigma.” Criminology 55(3): 664-90.
  • Denver, Megan, Garima Siwach, and Shawn D. Bushway. 2017. “A New Look at the Employment and Recidivism Relationship through the Lens of a Criminal Background Check.” Criminology 55(1): 174-204.
  • Denver, Megan. 2017. “Evaluating the Impact of ‘Old’ Criminal Conviction Decision Guidelines on Subsequent Employment and Arrest Outcomes.” Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency 54(3): 379–408.

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