Rutgers School of Criminal Justice

Dr. Jesenia Pizarro


Associate Professor, School of Criminal Justice, Michigan State University


I received my PhD in 2005, and I am currently an Assistant Professor in the School of Criminal Justice at Michigan State University.  I am originally from Puerto Rico, but spent most ofmy childhood residing in the city of Newark.  Growing up in Newark sensitized me to crime, disorder, violence, and how society deals with lawbreakers.  This sparked my interest in the areas of violence and corrections, on which most of my research, to date, has focused.

While my research centers on violence, most notably homicide, I have also studied correction’s policy.  My correctional research has primarily focused on the “politics of punishment,” particularly those pertaining to supermax prisons.  This has enabled me to explore why Americans punish lawbreakers the way they do, and the historical context that has given rise to the popularity of these institutions.

My homicide research focuses on the social ecology of homicide.  I examine homicide through the lens of theories of crime, and how various contextual factors come together in time and place toresult in a homicide event.  This involves examining how macro, micro, and situational factors,when combined, precipitate a homicide.  My research also examines the effect the homicidesituational context has on the social reaction of practitioners and other social actors.

My focus on homicide through the lens of theories of crime has contributed to the homicide literature by elucidating the processes that result in a homicide event.  Most of the homicide research, to date, has focused on the examination of the social structural covariates of this crimeinstead of proximate factors such as the situational attributes and characteristics of victims and offenders. My work has sought to fill this void in the literature by focusing on the situational and individual level covariates of homicide.  I believe that the future of homicide research lies in the examination and elucidation of the situational contexts of homicide, since the understanding of these processes is pivotal for the creation of effective homicide prevention strategies, and the theoretical understanding of this crime.

Contact Information:

Michigan State University
School of Criminal Justice
522 Baker Hall
East Lansing, MI 48824-1118