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Dr. Colleen Berryessa

Assistant Professor


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

Office Location

CLJ, 579 G

Areas of Specialization

Courts & Sentencing
Discretion & Decision-making
Mental Health


Dr. Colleen M. Berryessa joined the faculty in the School of Criminal Justice at Rutgers University 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 punishment. She primarily examines these issues, using both psychological and socio-legal lenses, in relation to two areas: 1) how these phenomena affect the discretion of criminal justice actors in their responses to offending and decision-making in courts; and 2) how these phenomena affect public views and consideration of courts, sentencing systems, and punishment-related policies and practices.

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.


Selected Recent & Key Publications

J.R. Silver and C.M. Berryessa. (2021). Remorse, Perceived Offender Immorality, and Lay Sentencing Preferences. Journal of Experimental Criminology. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11292-021-09488-5

Berryessa, C. M. (2021). A Dual-Process Approach to Moral Panic and Public Support for Sex Offender Management Policies. Journal of Interpersonal Violence. 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. 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, 355-380. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/bsl.2476

Berryessa, C. M. (2020). Compassionate release as a “right” in the age of COVID-19. American Journal of Bioethics, 20, 185-187. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/15265161.2020.1777348

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, 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, 202-238.

Berryessa, C. M., & Wohlstetter, B. (2019). The psychopathic “label” and effects on punishment outcomes: A meta-analysis. Law and Human Behavior, 43, 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, 1073-1100.