Exploring Sustainable Strategies for Decreasing Recidivism through Interdisciplinary Research Baltimore

A Letter to the Editor, 1971

My father held a variety of jobs, however, he ended up selling heroin to support his habit.

Decades after his death, it is considered cruel and unusual punishment to deny medical care—including treatment for withdrawal.

For time immemorial it should be considered inhumane to deny spiritual counseling when requested.

Whether assistance was provided with the sheet remains a mystery, however, both sides at any time are well aware that transparency can be tricky.

This is why I care about prison reform!

Join me July 17-19, 2018 in Baltimore

Decreasing Recidivism: 1st International Conference

Exploring Sustainable Strategies for Decreasing Recidivism through Interdisciplinary Research


June 17-19, 2018

Vulnerable populations are confronted with wicked problems for which social scientists and policy makers have struggled to design effective sustainable solutions. Vulnerable population groups such as ex-offenders, homeless, veterans, and chemically-dependent persons confront a myriad of colliding barriers to successful re-entry into society. Colliding barriers such as inadequate housing options, unsustainable employment, unreliable transportation, untreated mental health challenges, improper childcare, and poor self-esteem block the successful reintegration in the community, and as such, become contributing factors to higher rates of recidivism. Conceived as the tendency to relapse into a previous condition or mode of behavior, recidivism is a perfect example of a wicked public policy issue not fully understood because of its multidimensional nature.

The purpose of the 1st International Conference on Decreasing Recidivism is to explore the root causes and various dimensions – political, economic, social, spiritual, and cultural – that must be taken into consideration while devising concrete strategies to tackle recidivism effectively. Specifically, the conference will bring together an international group of scholars and practitioners from diverse disciplines (economics, sociology, public administration, political science, public policy, criminal justice, social work, business, anthropology, law, psychology, psychiatry, information technology, journalism, education, public/mental health, etc.) to collectively explore the multiple facets of the problems and emerging opportunities of decreasing recidivism locally and around the world. In their papers, conference participants can address numerous themes and issues, such as:

Innovative Evidence-based Approaches and Recidivism Reduction

What are some evidence-based pragmatic approaches that have proved to be effective in helping ex-offenders and other individuals struggling with addictive behaviors to not relapse into their previous conditions?

Challenges Confronting Mentally Ill Inmates 

What best practices have been identified to help inmates suffering from mental illnesses? Besides incarceration, what other alternatives to correct the behaviours of mentally ill offenders should be considered? Are incarcerated mentally ill youth and young adults likely to have an educational disability?

Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) and Ex-Offenders Reintegration

Is there empirical evidence of civil society, non-profit and non-governmental organizations playing an advocacy role for effective reintegration of returning citizens? Have CSOs been effective in reaching ex-offenders and other individuals struggling with addictive behaviors?

Lawmaking and Social Justice

Could the elimination of state/local government laws that prevent ex-offenders from getting jobs be a cost-effective strategy and long-term solution? From a fiscal responsibility perspective, are tax-dollars best used with short and long-term incarcerations? Are there empirical evidence supporting the effectiveness of being tough on crime and mass incarcerations?

Faith-based Organizations and Recidivism Reduction Efforts

Looking at post-incarceration, is there empirical evidence of long-term positive impacts of prison ministries? In other words, do inmates getting spiritual counselling relapse less than others? Are spiritual leaders involving their memberships in mentoring ex-offenders and other individuals struggling with addictive behaviors?

Academic Institutions and Social Equity

Is there evidence of moving from research to policy and best practices to improve the lives of ex-offenders and other individuals struggling with addictive behaviours? What are some of the tested theories which practitioners could rely upon while designing concrete strategies for reducing recidivism? Could embracing an interdisciplinary action research paradigm lead to better strategies to reducing recidivism? What are the best benchmarks for performance measurement in assessing recidivism reduction efforts?

Corporate Social Responsibility and Job Creation

Could Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) provide long-term employment solutions to ex-offenders and other individuals struggling with addictive behaviours? From a corporate social responsibility perspective, what are the threats and opportunities of improving college and career readiness for individuals at pre-incarceration, incarceration, and post-incarceration stages?


Community Corrections Centers (CCCs) and Contract Facilities (CCFs)

Is there empirical evidence supporting the relevance of CCCs and CCFs in reducing recidivism? Is it in the best interest of CCFs to foster recidivism reduction strategies? What are the pros and cons of the current trend toward prison privatizations?

Educational and Vocational Needs for Incarcerated Youth

Whose responsibility is it for meeting the educational and vocational needs of youth and young adults in the juvenile justice system? Are there effective educational and vocational services being made available to them? Are juvenile correctional agencies and public education agencies working together to ensure that these youth transition smoothly to a community-based educational or vocational setting after release from incarceration?

Submission of Paper and Panel Proposals

The conference program committee welcomes the submission of proposals for individual papers, professional workshops and fully formed panels. High-quality conceptual, theoretical, empirical, and policy- and practice-oriented research is welcome. All proposals should: (1) briefly explain how the paper, workshop or panel connects to the overall conference theme, (2) note the individual conference track in which the proposal best fits, (3) include 3-4 keywords, and (4) provide complete contact information for the corresponding individual. Proposals for individual papers or workshops should include an abstract of 250-400 words. Proposals for fully formed panels should consist of three to four complementary papers and include an abstract of 400-600 words.

Review of paper, workshop and panel proposal submissions is ongoing and will close on April 15, 2018. Proposals should be emailed to the program committee chair, Dr. Gedeon M. Mudacumura gmudacumura@cheyney.edu


Mother’s Day Matters

Happy Mother’s Day to all Mothers & Other Mothers


Dedicated to my mother:
Wyatt-Nichol, H. (2012). A view from the 50th street gate on Washington Avenue: Reflections of a working class academic. Journal of Public Affairs Education, 18(1), 17-28.

Wyatt-Nichol, H. (2009). Blue-collar mother/White-collar daughter: A perspective on U.S policies toward working mothers. Journal of the Association for Research on Mothering. 11(2), 111-121.

Dedicated to all Mothers:

Seabrook, R. & Wyatt-Nichol, H. (2015). Marginalization and hope: Personal narratives of previously incarcerated mothers. In J. Minaker, & B. Hogeveen, (Eds.) Criminalized mothers/Criminalizing motherhood. (pp.355-372). Bradford: Demeter Press

Wyatt-Nichol, H. (2015, Spring). Workplace Flexibility in Higher Education: Reflections on the National Challenge for Higher Education Conference. USM Women’s Forum Newsletter.

Wyatt-Nichol, H., Cardona, M., & Drake, K. (2012). Balancing work and family in higher education: Best practices and barriers. In O’Brien Hallstein, L. & O’Reilly, A. (Eds.) Academic motherhood in a post-second wave context (pp. 108-126). Bradford: Demeter Press.

Podcast discussion on The Global Child—Female Friendly Workplaces (2012, August 24) for NGO To Love Children Educational Foundation International, Inc., Available at WebTalk Radio.net and  iTunes

Wyatt-Nichol, H. (2011). Case study: Female-family friendly policies in the academe. In D’Agostino, M.J. & Levine, H. (Eds.), Women in Public Administration: Theory and practice (pp. 45-65). Sudbury: Jones & Bartlett Learning.

Wyatt-Nichol, H. (2010). Maternity leave. Encyclopedia of Motherhood. Los Angeles: Sage Publications, Inc, 729-730.

Wyatt-Nichol, H. (2010). Daycare. Encyclopedia of Motherhood. Los Angeles: Sage Publications, Inc, 273-275.

Dr. Heather’s WordPress Page: Readings on Family Friendly Policies

Also, check out Demeter Press and the Motherhood Initiative for Research and Community Involvement


A Constitutional Amendment on Competencies

Our society places responsibility on educational institutions and students to demonstrate competencies and learning outcomes. However, we still end up with a President who lacks basic knowledge of the Constitution, how government works, and basic history.
A proposed Constitutional Amendment

Any President of the U.S. should be required to demonstrate basic knowledge via the Citizenship Test, AP Government, History, and Geography exams.
NASPAA Universal Required Competencies https://accreditation.naspaa.org/standard-5/

Middle States https://www.msche.org/

SACS http://www.sacs.org/

Common Core http://www.corestandards.org/

Citizenship Test https://my.uscis.gov/prep/test/civics

AP Government Test

AP History Test

Click to access ap-us-history-practice-exam.pdf

Buckroe (From Bill Jones)

Buckroe Beach in Hampton, Virginia, 1974. It is a small stretch of narrow beach in the sleepy Tidewater community of southeastern Virginia. There are blue-collar towns and white-collar cities in America during this time. Hampton and the surrounding area are decidedly green-collar: much of the economy consists of military and ex-military. Times are simple here […]

via 1970s Buckroe Beach, Hampton, Virginia — Today on Earth, Art

Encompassing Death

HLWN2 How can we move beyond the grieving process when death constantly surrounds us?

At Work

I started working at the University of Baltimore August, 2008. The following month, City Councilman Kenneth Harris was shot and killed outside of a nightclub in the city (life in the city can be rawer than The Wire). I worked as an election judge during the historic election on November 4, 2008—that same evening our colleague and first UB MPA Program Director Dan Martin passed away.  As time passed so did other colleagues…Peter Lynagh from the Business and more names that I may have missed. In 2016, our student Julien Jones was killed in Toronto. More recently, we lost Richard Bucher, who taught for many years in the MPA program and Berry Grant from Criminal Justice. Professor Grant’s death is particularly tragic because he taught in the forensics program that his former wife, Jamie Grant, developed before she died unexpectedly.

Since my arrival, nearly every colleague that I know has lost a loved one- parents, grandparents, children, siblings, and friends. Deep and heavy losses as we grieve in our own way. Sometimes our actions might seem irrational. For example, I refused to attend a professional conference this year because my maternal grandmother passed away when I returned from the conference in 2015 and my maternal grandfather passed away when I returned from the same conference in 2016 (I have one paternal grandmother alive). There was another time that a long-lost colleague and mentor left a message on my machine—I never returned his call because I was certain he wanted to inform me that one of my favorite professors passed away.

Writing that someone passed away, however, does not provide the full context of the complexities involved. There may be hours spent by the hospital bed of a loved one during their final days, decisions to remove life support, family dynamics, economic circumstances, and the obligatory paperwork that follows to close the chapter of another life.

A retrenchment of the soul.

As Work

Social Equity and Social Justice are integral in much of my research—I never anticipated death. A few years ago my colleague and submitted a proposal in response to a call for papers on the death of Trayvon Martin. By the time we received an invitation to move forward on the manuscript there were the additional deaths of Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice and so many more. As we delved into our work the number of deaths steadily increased. Here in Baltimore City, Freddy Gray was in a coma when police admitted him to the hospital on April 12, 2015—he died on April 19, 2015. Then on June 17, 2015 my colleague’s cousin was killed in the Charleston shooting at Mother Emmanuel A.M.E. Our manuscript [1]is incomplete as events emerge. Artists have stated that they feel their work—the same is true for writers.

In the City

Unfortunately, the City of Baltimore is known for the homicide rate, often ranking among the top three cities when per-capita is considered.  According to U.S. ACS data (2014) the population size was only at 621,849. In 2015, our per capita murder rate was 55 (55 of every 100,000 residents were murdered). To put this in perspective, the per-capita murder rate in Chicago was 10.4 and New York City was 2.5.[2]

Homicides in Baltimore City

07 08 09 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 4.12.17
282 234 238 223 197 217 235 211 344 318 86

This year we have lost an artist, a boxer, an unborn child and someone has lost a father, mother, son, daughter, cousin, or friend. There are markers throughout the city—teddy bears, balloon memorials and murals along the streets.

Baltimore is a resilient city filled with complexities yet open to innovative ideas to address wicked problems. We never give up.

In Memory of Robert Godwin, Sr.

America is at a new low when a citizen randomly selects an elderly man walking home from Easter Dinner and shoots him dead on Facebook Live. Although Mr. Godwin was 74 years old, his life was cut short. He is not only the grandfather to 10 grandchildren—he is the representation of America’s grandfather.


[1] Seabrook, R. & Wyatt-Nichol, H. (2016).The ugly side of America: Institutional oppression and race. Journal of Public Management and Social Policy, 23(1), 20-46.

[2] Fenton, J. (2017, April 19). Baltimore has surpassed New York City in Homicides. The Baltimore Sun. Available at  http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/crime/bal-baltimore-has-surpassed-new-york-city-in-homicides-20150820-story.html


Lessons for Trump

Donald Trump received a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics from the University of Pennsylvania in 1968. Let’s assume remediation is necessary and continuous…

On the First Amendment

Freedom of Expression

Nobody should be allowed to burn the American flag – if they do, there must be consequences – perhaps loss of citizenship or year in jail!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 29, 2016


Had Trump enrolled in my American Government 101 course years ago, he would have learned about the First Amendment in relation to Freedom of Expression, particularly burning the American Flag. It’s also an excellent way to demonstrate the separation of powers and checks and balances established by our Constitution.

1989- Texas v. Johnson, 491 U.S. 397 (Flag burning incident at the 1984 RNC)

1989- Congress passes the Flag Protection Act

1990- U.S. v. Eichman, 496 U.S. 310

Should we give him a pass since he graduated shortly after the McCarthy Era? Perhaps he didn’t get CNN or read the newspaper in 1989-1990—after all, most business professionals don’t concern themselves with Supreme Court decisions on civil liberties.

See also:

Timeline of Flag Desecration Issues