Dr. Steen's current research interests include racial and ethnic disparities in punishment, prosecutorial and judicial discretion, organizational responses to legislative reform, and the culture of punishment. Her most recent research follows a Colorado Commission charged with reforming criminal and juvenile justice to increase consistency and decrease costs. Using theoretical work on the culture of punishment, she is exploring how policy makers and bureaucrats working in the justice system justify reforms that move away from the tough on crime framework, with a particular focus on the role of evidence. Placing this research within a broader framework of sociology of knowledge and science and technology studies, she is exploring questions about what constitutes evidence, how evidence is contested, and the knowledge production that occurs during the reform process. She is also beginning a project looking at non-medical (illegal) usage of prescription drugs on college campuses.
culture of punishment, criminal and juvenile justice policy and policy reform, racial and ethnic disparities in punishment, discretion in criminal justice decision making