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CJS graduate student receives honorable mention at MCJA conference

Clayton Cottle

Clayton Cottle, a graduate student in the Department of Criminal Justice Sciences.

Clayton Cottle ’15, a graduate student in the Department of Criminal Justice Sciences, received an honorable mention on his thesis topic, “The Influence of Employment Status and Education on Recidivism: A Case Study of the Piatt County Probation Department,” at the Midwestern Criminal Justice Association (MCJA) conference in Chicago on September 24–25, 2015.

Cottle wanted to attend MCJA to represent the CJS program, and to expand his professional network with other academics. Attending the conference would also give him his first conference presentation experience. While he was nervous, he was comforted by the familiar faces of CJS faculty and other graduate students who came to see his presentation. While he enjoyed presenting and viewing others’ research projects, Cottle said that his favorite part of the conference was spending time with faculty and other graduate assistants.

Cottle chose to research education and employment statuses after working with Jason Ingram on an undergraduate independent study as a part of the Honors Program. Ingram introduced Cottle to the data set with which they are still working. He chose the topic partially because he and Ingram believed that these two variables could provide a respectable results and the possibility for future implications based from the findings.

The data they are using was provided by Piatt County’s chief probation officer, who also provided his own reports and recommendations for research variables. He was hoping that the research would allow him to better serve his community. Cottle wanted to pursue the best possible research avenue that could provide results positively impacting the development of probation practices.

Here is the abstract from Cottle’s research:

“There is increasing need to understand and improve rates of recidivism in all fields associated with the criminal justice system. For this project, recidivism is defined as a new arrest after the date of release from probation. This research aims to analyze and interpret the influence that education and employment has on probationer recidivism. Results of bivariate analyses conducted found that, as education increases the likelihood to recidivate decreases. Also, those who remained employed throughout their probation term were the least likely to recidivate. Finally, if the probationer were to lose employment while on probation, it increased the chance of recidivism drastically. The results impart a better understanding of probationers and recidivism. The research revealed the importance education and employment could have on lowering recidivism rates. The findings of this analysis have important implications for local probation practices.”

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