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Dr. Robert Apel

Professor and Ph.D. Program Chair


Ph.D. (2004) Criminology and Criminal Justice, University of Maryland; M.A. (2001) Criminology and Criminal Justice, University of Maryland; B.A. (1998) Criminology and Spanish, Drury University

Office Location

CLJ, 579 H

Areas of Specialization

Labor market
Justice policy
Life course
Violence and injury
Causal inference


Robert Apel (pronounced AY-pull) received his Ph.D. in criminology and criminal justice from the University of Maryland in 2004, and joined Rutgers University-Newark in 2011. His expertise is in policy problems in criminal justice, with an emphasis on the labor market, deterrence-based policies, and prison reentry challenges. His recent and in-progress research explores the work-crime relationship, the impact of a criminal record on employment and wages, the impact of incarceration versus community sanctions on recidivism, the impact of early prison release on recidivism, police-citizen interactions as determinants of trust and legitimacy in law enforcement, and the cross-national association of police contact experiences with general wellbeing. He has served or currently serves on the editorial boards of five leading criminological journals: Criminology, Justice Quarterly, Journal of Quantitative Criminology, Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency, and Criminology and Public Policy. He is also a former Associate Editor of Journal of Quantitative Criminology (2014-2018).



Recent Grants:

Apel, R. (Principal Investigator), C. Berryessa (Co-Investigator), M. Ostermann (Co-Investigator), and A. Rengifo (Co-Investigator). Arnold Ventures. Criminal Sentencing and Early Prison Release Reforms: Lessons from New Jersey. September 1, 2023 to August 31, 2025. $734,030.

This project evaluates the impact of reforms to criminal sentencing and prison release policies on prison admissions and releases, the incarceration rate, and public safety, as well as racial disparities in these impacts.

Chien, C. (Co-Principal Investigator) and R. Apel (Co-Principal Investigator). Arnold Ventures. Evaluating the Impact of State Reforms of Debt-Based Driving License Suspension. May 1, 2023 to April 30, 2025. $350,008.

This project evaluates the impact of reforms to debt-based license suspension on employment and criminal legal system activity, with an emphasis on variability by scope of reform


Recent & Key Publications

Wermink, H. T., A. A. J. Blokland, N. Tollenaar, J. Been, P. M. Schuyt, and R. Apel (forthcoming). Estimating effects of short-term imprisonment on crime using random judge assignments. Justice Quarterly.

Bellair, P., M. Vuolo, E. LaPlant, and R. Apel. (forthcoming). Is work associated with more or less criminal involvement in the short-term? New evidence of the former among a justice-involved sample. Crime and Delinquency.

Apel, R. (2022). Sanctions, perceptions, and crime. Annual Review of Criminology 5: 205-227.

Chien, C., A. George, S. Shekhar, and R. Apel. (2022). Estimating the earnings loss associated with a criminal record and suspended driver’s license. Arizona Law Review 64: 675-732.

Baćak, V. and R. Apel. (2021). Police fairness and legitimacy across the post-communist divide in Europe. Law and Society Review 55: 473-395.

Baćak, V., & Apel, R. (in press). The thin blue line of health: Police contact and civilian wellbeing in Europe. Social Science and Medicine.

Bhardwaj, N., & Apel, R. (in press). Societal gender inequality and the gender gap in safety perceptions: Comparative evidence from the International Crime Victims Survey. European Journal of Criminology.

Demir, M., Apel, R., Braga, A. A., Brunson, R. K., & Ariel, B. (2020). Body worn cameras, procedural justice, and police legitimacy: A controlled experimental evaluation of traffic stops. Justice Quarterly, 37, 53-84.

Apel, R., & Powell, K. (2019). Level of criminal justice contact and early adult wage inequality. RSF: The Russell Sage Foundation Journal of the Social Sciences, 5, 198-222.

Apel, R., & Horney, J. (2017). How and why does work matter? Employment conditions, routine activities, and crime among adult male offenders. Criminology, 55, 307-343.