The University of Maryland's Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice is proud to announce the recipients of the Annual Dr. Anat Kimchi Graduate Student Awards for the academic year 2023-2024. These awards, supported by the Kimchi Family and the Department, serve as a heartfelt tribute to the memory and legacy of Dr. Anat Kimchi, a beloved University of Maryland graduate student in Criminology and Criminal Justice who was tragically killed in 2021. This endowment memorializes her passion for quantitative empirical research related to racial inequality, recidivism, social justice, or the study of formal institutions of social control.
In this year's selection, we honor the outstanding work of three exceptional graduate students, each making significant contributions to the field of criminology and criminal justice. In making these awards, the Kimchi Family and the Department preserve the memory of Dr. Kimchi’s life and accomplishments.
The Kimchi Memorial Graduate Student Awardee: Carol Chen
Carol Chen, the recipient of the Dr. Anat Kimchi Memorial Graduate Award, proposes to study racial disparities in the processing of criminal cases while conditioning on neighborhood contextual factors was favorably reviewed by the committee and selected for the Dr. Anat Kimchi Memorial Graduate Award. This project aims to investigate racial disparities in various stages of criminal case processing, particularly focusing on the roles of prosecutorial decisions and neighborhood characteristics in shaping these disparities. Existing research has shown significant racial disparities in the criminal justice system, but few studies delve into how neighborhood characteristics, such as concentrated disadvantage and racial segregation, may contribute to these disparities
Carol will be using case management data from the Montgomery County City State’s Attorney’s Office (MCSAO), Carol will examine racial inequalities in charging decisions, case dispositions, and incarceration, and assess the impact of neighborhood conditions on these disparities. The study aims to uncover potential cumulative disadvantages in different stages of criminal case processing and their interaction with the local neighborhood environment by conducting multilevel analyses. This research is significant because it explores the full process leading to criminal convictions and punishment and considers how it is influenced by race and local community context, shedding light on the emergence of racial disparities in the criminal justice system
The Kimchi Memorial Graduate Student Travel Awardee: Sara-Laure Faraji
Sara-Laure Faraji, the recipient of the Dr. Anat Kimchi Travel Award, will help defray costs related to travel to the 2023 American Society of Criminology (ASC) Annual Meeting in Philadelphia. At ASC, Sara-Laure will present her research on the role of defendants' clothing in criminal justice decision-making. This research is motivated by the fact that defense attorneys often recommend that defendants wear certain attire in court, as there is an assumption that a defendant's clothing could influence the judge and/or jury. Although this belief is widespread, there is little research to test whether it is true.
Using AI-generated pictures, Sara-Laure’s dissertation aims to address this gap in knowledge by seeing how the public’s punishment recommendation differs based on different types of clothing. The implications of this study will benefit society regardless of the findings. Indeed, the absence of a relationship between clothing and judicial outcomes would indicate that, contrary to popular belief, time and resources that would have been used to decide on clothing should be reallocated to other areas of a defendant’s defense. Meanwhile, any findings of a relationship between clothing and criminal justice outcomes would provide opportunities to implement policies to reduce inequalities within the criminal justice system. For example, if findings reveal better outcomes for individuals who dress more formally than those who dress more casually, formal clothing could be made available to defendants at no cost to them. Such policies would minimize inequalities between the haves and the have-nots and likely reduce the overrepresentation of certain populations in the criminal justice system.
The Kimchi Memorial Graduate Student Travel Awardee: Sydney Jaw
Sydney Jaw, the recipient of the Dr. Anat Kimchi Travel Award, will support her travel to the Western Society of Criminology (WSC) Annual Meeting in February 2024. There, she will present her paper titled "Contextual Effects of Summer Youth Employment Program on Crime: Evidence From New York City." Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP) is a government program that connects youth to paid work experiences in the summer. This project is a section of my dissertation that examines how neighborhood context influences the effect of New York City SYEP on youth arrests. Evaluation of this large social program is important in building evidence-based policies for youth crime prevention. Sydney Jaw expressed her gratitude, saying, "It is a great honor to receive this Award, and I am grateful for this acknowledgment from the Award Committee and the Kimchi Family."