Kubrin receives American Society of Criminology award

Charis Kubrin

Professor honored for outstanding contributions

For her outstanding contributions to the American Society of Criminology and to the field of criminology, Charis E. Kubrin is ASC’s 2024 Herbert Bloch Award recipient.

Kubrin, professor of criminology, law and society, will receive the award at ASC’s Annual Meeting in November.

“Many intellectual heroes of mine who have put their research to work for a good cause have previously received this award, so it means the world to me,” she says.

In his five-page nomination letter, Michael Gottfredson, Chancellors’ Professor Emeritus of criminology, law and society, wrote about Kubrin: “Charis’s contributions to academic criminology are substantial, her record of service to the Society and profession are enormous, and her contributions to critical public policy matters relate to some of the most important crime and justice issues facing society today.”

He pointed out Kubrin’s myriad accomplishments. Of her scholarship, he wrote that she has “published significant work in nearly every highly referred outlet in our discipline, highly influential essays in prestigious collections, and book-length works that are widely regarded as essential readings in criminal justice and criminology. Her scope, both in methods and in theory, is enviable and her range of topic is substantial: crime and immigration; criminological theory; macro level causes of crime and delinquency; policy efforts to reduce mass incarceration; and biases in evidence used in criminal trials. Much of this work has been deployed by Professor Kubrin in service of informing the public about scientific criminology relevant to significant public policy issues.”

And, he noted: “It should not go without mention that one of the reasons Charis is so highly valued as a colleague for service activities both within and outside of the university is that she is a model colleague — helpful, courteous, thoughtful, well-prepared, and, without peer, dependable. She always does her part — actually, more than her part. Selfless and considerate.”

Kubrin’s research examines crime and crime trends; immigration and crime; criminal justice reform; rap music and media, culture and crime; race/ethnicity and violence. 

She has published dozens of studies examining the immigration-crime nexus or, as she puts it, “myth-busting around what we know about immigration and crime.”

A few years ago, Kubrin and long-time collaborator Graham Ousey, professor of sociology at William and Mary, published a meta-analysis on the topic, examining more than 50 studies published from 1994 to 2014. They found that immigration and crime are not related and immigration even caused crime to decrease in an area.

Kubrin’s research on rap music documents how lyrics and videos are being introduced as evidence of a defendant's guilt in what she calls “rap on trial.” She has analyzed how rap-related evidence impacts decision-making in the courtroom. 

To that end, Kubrin and her co-author Jack Lerner, UCI clinical professor of law, published “Rap on Trial: A Legal Guide,” a comprehensive for attorneys dealing with rap evidence introduced at any stage of criminal proceedings. The guide includes explanations of rap conventions that may be unfamiliar to lawyers and jurors, an overview of empirical research on rap and bias, legal grounds for evidentiary and First Amendment challenges to admitting lyrics into trial, among other topics.

Kubrin is a member of the Council on Criminal Justice, the Racial Democracy, Crime and Justice Network, the Diversity Scholars Network, the Scholars Strategy Network, The UC Consortium on Social Science and Law, and UCI’s Center for Population, Inequality, and Policy

In addition, Kubrin is an expert for the Crime and Justice Research Alliance, and she is a 2024 Newkirk Center for Science & Society Fellow.

Her research has received several national awards including:

  • the Ruth Shonle Cavan Young Scholar Award from the American Society of Criminology (for outstanding scholarly contributions to the discipline of criminology); 
  • the Coramae Richey Mann Award from the Division on People of Color and Crime, the American Society of Criminology (for outstanding contributions of scholarship on race/ethnicity, crime, and justice); 
  • the W.E.B. DuBois Award from the Western Society of Criminology (for significant contributions to racial and ethnic issues in the field of criminology);
  • the Paul Tappan Award from the Western Society of Criminology (for outstanding contributions to the field of criminology). 

In 2019, she was named a Fellow of the American Society of Criminology.

Issues of race and justice are at the forefront of Kubrin’s TEDx talk, “The Threatening Nature of…Rap Music?” The talk, which critiques the use of rap lyrics as evidence in criminal trials against young men of color, won her and Barbara Seymour Giordano, a Cicero Speechwriting Award in the category of “Controversial or Highly Politicized Topic.”

Kubin hosts a website dedicated to providing information and resources related to the use of rap lyrics as evidence in criminal trials and she co-directs the Irvine Laboratory for the Study of Space and Crime.

Among the books authored or co-authored by Kubrin:

Mimi Ko Cruz