Peer-Reviewed Journal Articles

Abstract: This article investigates the complexity of the relationships criminal justice (CJ) students from two large, diverse urban colleges (N=371) have with family and friends who are both work within CJ institutions as professionals, but also with family and friends who are adversely impacted by the criminal justice system. In particular, the impact of having a family or friend in a CJ profession on motivations to enter the CJ are probed. A survey consisting of quantitative and qualitative questions was administered, and descriptive and inferential statistics obtained. Findings showed 40% of students both had family and friends affected by the CJ major and who had family and friends who worked in a CJ profession. There was a high degree of correlation between those with CJ connections and the influence those connections exert towards the choice of CJ as a college major. Implications for adult educators of these students is discussed.​​

Abstract: The spread of crimmigration policies, practices, and rhetoric represents an economically rational strategy and has significant implications for the lived experience of noncitizen immigrants. This study draws up in-depth interviews of immigrants with a range of legal statuses to describe the mechanics through which immigrants internalize and respond to the fear of deportation, upon which crimmigration strategies rely. The fear of deportation and its behavioral effects extend beyond undocumented or criminally convicted immigrants, encompassing lawful permanent residents and naturalized citizens alike. This fear causes immigrants to refuse to use public services, endure labor exploitation, and avoid public spaces, resulting in social exclusion and interrupted integration, which is detrimental to US society as a whole.​​

Follow Me

Abstract: This article extends a small but significant body of work on the motivations of criminal justice students to enter the major and to pursue a criminal justice career (Krimmel & Tartaro Citation1999; Gabbidon et al Citation2003; Courtright & Mackey Citation2004). The authors examine the influence of a variable previously ignored: that of victimization. A survey consisting of quantitative and qualitative questions was administered, and descriptive and inferential statistics used to compare victimized students' responses to that of non-victimized students on a range of questions related to motivation and career aspiration using a sample (N = 371) of criminal justice majors drawn from two large, urban, majority-minority colleges in the Northeast. Students who were victimized were more likely to view the criminal justice system as unfair and think that justice is infrequently served, were more likely to see the major as relevant, and to want a job where they could make a difference. Students reported victimization of self and those close to them as a significant influence on their motivation to enter the major.​​

Exploring Deportation as a Causal Mechanism of Social Disorganization

 “The violent effects of deportation and the barriers to immigration incorporation.”

Published: April 10, 2018

CO-AUTHORED Philip Kretsedemas (Editor), David C. Brotherton Ph.D.

Immigration Policy in the Age of Punishment: Detention, Deportation, and Border Control. Columbia University Press. 

Outside Justice: Immigration and the Criminalizing Impact of Changing Policy and Practice

​Publication Date: April 30, 2018

Shirley P. Leyro & Daniel L. Stageman

Abstract: Death threatens migrants physically during perilous border crossings between Central and North America, but many also experience legal, social, and economic mortality. Rooted in histories of colonialism and conquest, exclusionary policies and practices deliberately take aim at racialized, dispossessed people in transit. Once in the new land, migrants endure a web of systems across every facet of their world—work, home, healthcare, culture, justice—that strips them of their personhood, denies them resources, and creates additional obstacles that deprive them of their ability to live fully.​​

​Publication Date: May 23, 2019

Colleen P. Eren, Shirley P. Leyro & Ilir Disha

Shirley P. Leyro, Ph.D.

Book Chapters


​Publication Date: March 09. 2023

Shirley P. Leyro

Family and Friends in Uniform: Effect of Close Relationships on CJ Major Selection Among Diverse Students in Urban Colleges



Abstract: Borrowing from intersectionality theory, this study aims to understand how experiences of arrest – alone or in combination with victimization and criminal justice ties – inform students’ attitudes towards systems of justice, the major, and career motivations. Using a survey of 80 questions on a sample of students from urban colleges with large minority representation, the authors rely on ordered logit regressions to find: students with experiences of arrest hold more negative attitudes towards systems of justice; find the CJ major a more relevant subject matter; and are more motivated to make a community difference than students with no experiences of arrest. Differences are enhanced for students with experiences of arrest and victimization but reduced for students who know someone working in CJ fields. Experiences of arrest remain largely unvaried by demographic indicators. Results suggest student experiences of trauma are important dimensions of students’ decisions about the major and profession.​​

“Facing Banishment: State Violence, Social Exclusion and Suicidal Ideation among Deportable Immigrants.”

Published: jUNE 2021

Co-Authored. In, J. Longazel, M.C. Hallett (Eds).

Dead on Arrival: Social Autopsies of Discarded Migrant Lives. Temple University Press. 

Abstract: Since the mid-1990s, immigration control policies have been increasingly punitive and implemented with the aim to ease deportation. Some of these policies have been premised on a supposed link between immigration and crime. Social disorganization is the dominant theory linking immigration and crime. Yet recent criminological scholarship has challenged social disorganization’s position that immigrant can lead to factors which cause high crime rates. The immigrant revitalization perspective has emerged as a refutation of social disorganization, suggesting that the social capital and integration fostered in communities resulting from immigration counteract social disorganization theory and actually reduce, rather than increase, crime (Lee and Martinez, Sociol Focus, 35:365–385, 2002). ​​

Abstract: For young immigrants who are also college students, the sense of belonging impacts not only their integration in the host society, but their school community as well. Group membership has been associated with the sense of belonging, which in turn impacts the sense of self. Self-esteem, defined as a feeling of self-worth and self-respect, is considered to be fundamental to psychological well-being. This study explores feelings of belonging and membership of noncitizen students and the impact on their mental well-being. Data were drawn from 137 participants across multiple undergraduate campuses across the City University of New York (CUNY) system. Initial findings of the CUNY Belonging Study indicate that, consistent with existing research, noncitizen students’ immigration status impacts their ability to form a sense of belonging, and belonging and membership is related to the level of institutional support they receive.​​

​Publication Date: May 2017

Shirley P. Leyro, Daniel L. Stageman & David C. Brotherton

People You Care about in and out of the System: The Impact of Arrest on Criminal Justice Views, Choice of Major, and Career Motivations

Abstract: This volume proposes that the work of community colleges has expanded beyond equity into providing a true barrier-free learning environment for students, one that is attuned to justice. The essays included here serve as evidence and examples of the productive ways in which educators may bring theory and practice to bear on each other, which in turn may allow community college faculty, staff, and administrators to reexamine the role of a community college as a space for justice. Topics explored with this volume include liberatory educational practices in and out of the classroom, transforming classrooms into the site of collaboration and contestation, and unique visions of how to promote opportunity for marginalized students. Ultimately, the goal of this edited volume is to explore and encourage community college educators to understand the integral role they play in bringing transformative justice to their students and their communities.​​

Abstract: In 1849, Horace Webster, the first president of the Free Academy said of the radical social experiment that would eventually become the City University of New York (CUNY): "The experiment is to be tried, whether the children of the people, the children of the whole people, can be educated, and whether an institution of the highest grade, can be controlled by the popular will, not by the privileged few, but by the privileged many." More than 170 years after the founding of the Free Academy, we revisit Horace Webster's statement to question the outcome of the experiment from the perspective of the students.​​

“The Mental Health Challenges Experienced by Student Parents.”Literature Review Prepared for the JED Foundation

Crimmigration, Deportability and the Social Exclusion of Noncitizen Immigrants

​Publication Date: November 03, 2020

Colleen P. Eren, Shirley P. Leyro & Ilir Disha




Abstract: The purpose of this literature review is to present the JED team with a synthesis of the scholarship and an overview of the primary source materials relevant to the mental health challenges of this particular college community. The summary of work outlined below is based on the examination of materials provided to me by the team, as well as an academic investigation of the extant research on the subject matter. I found an abundance of studies on the mental health of college students in general. There is also ample research that explores the psychological stressors of parenthood as well as the mental well-being of single parents, and single mothers in particular.​​

Exploring feelings of belonging and membership of CUNY noncitizen students

It’s Personal: The Impact of Victimization on Motivations and Career Interests Among Criminal Justice Majors at Diverse Urban Colleges

AbstractOutside Justice: Immigration and the Criminalizing Impact of Changing Policy and Practice fills a clear gap in the scholarly literature on the increasing conceptual overlap between popular perceptions of immigration and criminality, and its reflection in the increasing practical overlap between criminal justice and immigration control systems. Drawing on data from the United States and other nations, scholars from a range of academic disciplines examine the impact of these trends on the institutions, communities, and individuals that are experiencing them. Individual entries address criminal victimization and labor exploitation of undocumented immigrant communities, the effects of parental detention and deportation on children remaining in destination countries, relations between immigrant communities and law enforcement agencies, and the responses of law enforcement agencies to drastic changes in immigration policy, among other topics. ​​

​Publication Date: January 17, 2020

Colleen P. Eren, Shirley P. Leyro & Ilir Disha

“Moving the classroom to the field: Creating opportunities of equity and justice for New York City community college students.”

Published: June 16, 2022

Co-authored. In, S. Khan & K. Unruh (Eds.).

Beyond Equity Into Justice: Bringing Theory Into Practice at Community Colleges. Routledge

Abstract: The events of 2016 catapulted immigration policy to the forefront of public debate, and Donald Trump’s administration has signaled a harsh turn in enforcement. Yet the deportation, detention, and border-control policies that North American and European countries have embraced are by no means new. In this book, sociologists David C. Brotherton and Philip Kretsedemas bring together an interdisciplinary group of contributors to reconsider the immigration policies of the Obama era and beyond in terms of a decades-long “age of punishment.”​​

“When to Step Up, Step Back: How to Advocate for Students By Letting *Them* Speak.”

Published: August 1, 2022

Co-authored. In, Chao, G.M., Kim, R., & McGinty, R. (Eds.).

The Children of the People: Writings by and about CUNY Students on Race and Social Justice. DOI Press