loading content..

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

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., DeWitt, S., & Reid, S. (In press). Gang membership and mental health during the transition to adulthood. Journal of Quantitative Criminology.
Baćak, V. & Apel, R. (In press). The thin blue line of health: Police contact and wellbeing in Europe. Social Science & Medicine.
Baćak, V., Wilson, L.*, & Bright, K.* (2021). Gendered association between sexual self- identification and police encounters perceived as unfair. Annals of Epidemiology, 63, 41-45.
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., Mausolf, J., & Schwarz, C. (2021). How comprehensive are media-based data on police officer-involved shootings? Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 36, 55-65.
Hyatt, J., Baćak, V., & Kerrison, E. (2021). COVID-19 vaccine refusal and related factors: Preliminary findings from a system-wide survey of correctional staff. Federal Sentencing Reporter, 33(4), 272–277.

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.