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Dr. Valerio Baćak

Associate Professor


Ph.D. (2015) Sociology, University of Pennsylvania; A.M. (2014) Statistics, Wharton School; M.A. (2008) Sociology, University of Oxford; M.Sc. (2008), B.A. (2007) Sociology, University of Zagreb

Office Location

CLJ, Room 545

Office Hours

Tuesdays noon-1:00pm or by appointment.

Areas of Specialization

Comparative Criminology
Drug Policy
Quantitative Methods


Valerio Baćak joined the faculty in the School of Criminal Justice at Rutgers University in 2015. His primary research interest is in understanding how legal systems of punishment and control shape social inequality, especially inequalities in health. In addition to academic work, Valerio has consulted internationally on public health projects for various United Nations organizations. As a research and teaching fellow at the University of Zagreb, he studied youth sexuality and the social epidemiology of HIV/AIDS among vulnerable populations. Originally from Croatia, Valerio received a PhD in Sociology and an MA in Statistics from the University of Pennsylvania, an MSc in Sociology from the University of Oxford, and a BA in Sociology from the University of Zagreb.


Recent & Key Publications

Baćak, V. (2023). Looking back: Victimization of transgender persons and the criminal legal system. American Journal of Public Health, 113, 10, 1043-1045.

Baćak, V. & Apel, R. (2021). Police fairness and legitimacy across the post-communist divide in Europe. Law & Society Review, 55(3), 473-495.

Baćak, V. & Apel, R. (2020). The thin blue line of health: Police contact and wellbeing in Europe. Social Science & Medicine, 267, 112404.

Baćak, V., & Kennedy, E. H. (2019). Principled machine learning using the super learner: An application to predicting prison violence.  Sociological Methods & Research, 48, 698-721.

Baćak, V., Andersen, L. H., & Schnittker, J. (2019). The effect of timing of incarceration on mental health: Evidence from a natural experiment.  Social Forces, 98, 303-328.

Baćak, V., Thurman, K., Eyer, K., Qureshi, R., Bird, J. D., Rivera, L. M., & Kim, S. A. (2018). Incarceration as a health determinant for sexual orientation and gender minority persons.  American Journal of Public Health, 108, 994-999.