JIC Bios

Meagan Cahill

Meagan Cahill (RAND) is a senior policy researcher who conducts research and evaluation in the areas of at-risk and delinquent youth, with a special focus on youths’ social networks; gang violence; crime and place; and community crime prevention. She is skilled in spatial analytical methodologies for crime analysis using geographic information systems (GIS), basic social network analysis, quantitative and qualitative methodologies, longitudinal studies and multi-site evaluations. Before coming to RAND, she spent 10 years in The Urban Institute’s Justice Policy Center, where she co-led an evaluation of the City of Los Angeles’ Gang Reduction and Youth Development program, funded by the city of Los Angeles. She was also co-principal investigator of a pilot initiative to develop multi-jurisdictional, multi-agency data collection and analysis capabilities for public safety, co-principal investigator of an assessment of the Los Angeles Police Department and Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles’s Community Safety Partnership, and lead at the Urban Institute of a project (with RAND Corporation) to investigate gang desistance processes in two cities. She received her Ph.D. in geography from the University of Arizona in 2004.

Jess Saunders
Jess Saunders (RAND) is a criminologist currently conducting research on school safety, policing, corrections and community approaches to enhance public safety. Dr. Saunders has led several large-scale criminal justice and prevention evaluations and has extensive experience in program evaluation and advanced new quantitative methods to overcome sampling bias when using quasi-experimental and observational data in evaluation research. She has worked with large and small police departments across the United States and in Israel, and spent five months in Afghanistan conducting research with U.S. Special Operations. Prior to joining RAND in 2008, Dr. Saunders was an assistant professor at Arizona State University, spent seven years conducting applied policy research for the John Jay College of Criminal Justice Research and Evaluation Center in New York City and spent two years with the American Institutes for Research in Washington, D.C.

Liisa Ecola
Liisa Ecola (RAND) serves as the JIC project manager. In this role, she compiles monthly reports; assists with organizing workshops and client meetings; works with RAND support staff on management issues such as subcontracting, budgeting, human subjects protection review, and travel reimbursement; ensures that reports are properly routed through RAND’s in-house quality assurance and publications processes; and maintains internal project web sites. Prior to joining RAND in 2007, Ms. Ecola worked in transportation, land use, and policy consulting.

Shamena Anwar
Shamena Anwar (RAND) is an economist. Her main areas of interest include the criminal justice system and studying racial disparities. Her previous work has examined the role that race plays in areas such as motor vehicle searches, parole release decisions, and healthcare outcomes. She has also done a series of projects investigating the impact that jury characteristics such as race, age, and political party have on criminal trial outcomes. Her methodological expertise is in quantitatively assessing causal effects and her previous research has used a wide range of designs to achieve this. Her work has been published in journals including the American Economic Review, Quarterly Journal of Economics, and The Journal of Law and Economics. She received her Ph.D. in Economics from Yale University.

John Hollywood
John Hollywood (RAND) is the project technology advisor and is a senior operations researcher and a professor at Pardee RAND Graduate School, applying quantitative and qualitative analytics to security policy including criminal justice, homeland security, counterinsurgency and defense systems. His recent focus has been on improving information collection and analysis methods to prevent acts of violence ranging from violent crime to terrorism to insurgent attacks. His areas of expertise include predictive analysis (data mining), information systems research, social network analysis, evaluation and systems engineering. Recent projects include co-leading the evaluation of NIJ’s predictive policing experiment, directing the NLECTC Information and Geospatial Technologies Center, assessing characteristics of suicide bombing targets in Israel and assessing methods used to foil U.S. terrorist plots.

Priscillia Hunt
Priscillia Hunt (RAND) is an economist, Pardee RAND Graduate School Professor, and Research Fellow of the Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA). Her research interests focus on the economics of crime, including criminal behavior, operations of the criminal justice system, and criminal justice policy. Dr. Hunt has a number of studies on the costs of crime to taxpayers, the impact of ‘predictive policing’ strategies on crime, ways to improve monitoring the use-of-force by police and correctional officers, and the impact of laws on illicit drug market operations. She is currently investigating: the cost-effectiveness of pre-trial diversion and deferred prosecution programs, the impact of prison overcrowding and aging on medication purchases by prison authorities (for communicable diseases, mental health illness, nervous system conditions, acute & chronic pain, and chronic conditions such as diabetes); the short-run impact of Colorado and Washington recreational marijuana laws on the use of marijuana; and time use of police officers, judges/clerks, probation officers, and criminal justice agency staff. Hunt received her Ph.D. in economics from the University of Warwick.

Greg Midgette
Greg Midgette (RAND) is an associate policy researcher with 10 years of research experience in policy analysis in the areas of crime, drug and technology policy. He has expertise in quantitative research methods and program evaluation involving law enforcement and small rural agencies. His current and recent projects include estimating the size of illicit markets for marijuana, cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine, and measuring the effects of 24/7 Sobriety Programs in North and South Dakota on drunk driving and domestic violence. Prior to joining RAND, Dr. Midgette was a tax policy and economics analyst focusing on financial markets, housing and commercial real estate for the New York City Office of Management and Budget. He also was a Commerce Department program examiner at the federal Office of Management and Budget, a statistician for the Advancement Project (a Los Angeles-area nonprofit) and a public policy instructor at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs, where he taught methods of policy analysis to undergraduate and master’s students.

Charles Katz
Charles Katz (ASU) is the Watts Family Director of the Center for Violence Prevention and Community Safety and is an associate professor in the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice at Arizona State University. He received his Ph.D. in criminal justice in 1997 from the University of Nebraska at Omaha. Much of his research focuses on gangs and strategic responses to community gang problems. Currently, Dr. Katz is involved in a locally funded project interviewing recently booked arrestees in Maricopa County, Ariz. This research aims to understand the scope and nature of the county’s gang problem, organizational structure of gangs and the connection between crime, drug use and gangs. He is also working with the Organization of American States (OAS) to understand the gang problem in the Caribbean and to develop a regionally based gang prevention program. Additionally, he is currently working on a project funded by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security examining the connection between MS13 in El Salvador and the United States, and is a partner in the National Center for Border Security and Immigration (BORDERS) funded by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Cassia Spohn
Cassia Spohn (ASU) is a foundation professor and director of the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice at Arizona State University. She received her Ph.D .in political science from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. She is the author or co-author of seven books, including Policing and Prosecuting Sexual Assault: Inside the Criminal Justice System, published in 2014. Her research interests include prosecutorial and judicial decision making; the intersections of race, ethnicity, crime and justice; and sexual assault case processing decisions. In 2013 she received ASU’s Award for Leading Edge Research in the Social Sciences and was selected as a Fellow of the American Society of Criminology.
Vincent Webb
Vincent Webb (ASU) is a Professor of Practice with the Center for Violence Prevention and Community Safety and the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice at Arizona State University. He received his Ph.D. in Sociology from Iowa State University and has held several faculty and university administrative positions including directing and developing research centers as well as educational programs in criminology and criminal justice. His research has involved a variety of police related topics including community perceptions police performance of and attitudes toward police and the police response to gangs. His international work includes the implementation of the International Self-Report Delinquency Survey (ISRD) in China and more recently the analysis of findings from the 2015 El Salvador Youth Survey. Dr. Webb was co-developer of the Arizona Violence Prevention Academy, which targeted school-based crime, violence, and disorder, and he has extensive experience in evaluation research and research related to the reduction of gang and youth crime and violence. Related work includes implementing a variation of the Arizona Violence Prevention Academy in several of the high risk schools in Trinidad and Tobago. Dr. Webb has published numerous journal articles and research reports on a variety of criminal justice policies and practices and is the co-author five books including the award winning Policing Gangs in America (University of CambridgePress).