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Dr. Colleen Berryessa

Associate Professor


Ph.D. (2018) Criminology, University of Pennsylvania; B.A. (2011) Government and Mind, Brain, & Behavior, Harvard University

Office Location

CLJ, 579G

Areas of Specialization

Courts & Sentencing
Psychology & Law
Mental Health


Dr. Colleen M. Berryessa joined the faculty at the Rutgers School of Criminal Justice in 2018. Her research, utilizing both qualitative and quantitative methods, considers how psychological processes, perceptions, attitudes, and social contexts affect the criminal justice system, particularly related to courts, sentencing, and forms of punishment broadly defined.

She primarily examines these issues, using interdisciplinary methodologies, in relation to three areas: 1) how psychological and social phenomena influence public perceptions, support, and subsequent consideration of practices, policies, and the philosophical foundations surrounding sentencing; 2) how psychological and social phenomena influence the discretion and decision-making of criminal justice actors during the sentencing process; and 3) how psychological and social phenomena bear on motivations for and effects of expanded forms of legal and social punitiveness beyond the formal punishment stages of the criminal justice system.

Dr. Berryessa received her Ph.D. in Criminology from the University of Pennsylvania in 2018. Before Penn, she graduated from Harvard University with a B.A. in Government and Mind, Brain, and Behavior, and she served as a CIRGE research fellow at Stanford University.

Her personal website is colleenberryessa.com and information on her lab/trainees can be found here.


Selected Publications

Berryessa, C. M. (2023). Therapeutic Approaches to Remorse in Sentencing Recommendations: A Qualitative Study of Probation Officers. Criminal Justice and Behavior, 50(4), 497-520. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/00938548221139846

Berryessa, C. M. (2022). Modeling “Remorse Bias” in Probation Narratives: Examining Social Cognition and Judgments of Implicit Violence During Sentencing. Journal of Social Issues, 78(2), 452-482. https://spssi.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/josi.12508

Berryessa, C. M. (2022). Losing the Lottery of Life: Examining Intuitions of Desert Toward the Socially and Genetically “Unlucky” in Criminal Punishment Contexts. Behavioral Sciences & the Law, 40(3), 403-432. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/share/author/SJRGXH5M8HJYI3YMMPN9?target=10.1002/bsl.2563

Berryessa, C. M. (2021). A Dual-Process Approach to Moral Panic and Public Support for Sex Offender Management Policies. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 37(17-18), NP16700–NP16726. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/08862605211023490

Berryessa, C. M. (2021). A Tale of “Second Chances:” An Experimental Examination of Popular Support for Early Release Mechanisms that Reconsider Long-term Prison Sentences. Journal of Experimental Criminology, 18, 783–824. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11292-021-09466-x

Berryessa, C. M. (2020). The Potential Influence of Criminological Rationales in Considering Childhood Abuse as Mitigating to Sentencing. Child Abuse & Neglect, 111, 104818. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0145213420304737

Berryessa, C. M. (2020). The effects of essentialist attitudes toward biosocial risk factors for criminality and types of offending on lay punishment support. Behavioral Sciences & the Law, 38(4), 355-380. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/bsl.2476

Berryessa, C. M., & Lively, C. (2019). When a sex offender wins the lottery: Social and legal punitiveness toward sex offenders in an instance of perceived injustice. Psychology, Public Policy, and Law, 25(3), 181-195.  

Berryessa, C. M. (2019). Judicial stereotyping associated with genetic essentialist biases Toward mental disorders and potential negative effects on sentencing. Law & Society Review, 53(1), 202-238.

Berryessa, C. M., & Wohlstetter, B. (2019). The psychopathic “label” and effects on punishment outcomes: A meta-analysis. Law and Human Behavior, 43(1), 9-25.

Berryessa, C. M. (2018). The effects of psychiatric and “biological” labels on lay sentencing and punishment decisions. Journal of Experimental Criminology, 14, 241-256.

Berryessa, C. M. (2017). Jury-eligible public attitudes toward biological risk factors for the development of criminal behavior and implications for capital sentencing. Criminal Justice and Behavior, 44(8), 1073-1100.