Alissa Pollitz Worden studies decision making processes of criminal justice actors, agencies and networks, and the determinants of criminal justice policy. One of her current projects is a test of the thesis that the characteristics of courthouse cultures and political environments shape informal decision processes as well as patterns of case outcomes, based on analysis of data gathered in police departments and courthouses in five New York communities. She is also interested in the linkages between political climate and public policy. In this connection, she has collaborated with Dr. Bonnie E. Carlson ( Arizona State University ) on a survey of public beliefs about the causes of, and appropriate responses to, domestic violence. She has also studied the effects of occupational socialization and gender roles on the attitudes and behavior of practitioners, and is continuing that line of research with co-author Cam Steinke, utilizing data from the Project on Policing Neighborhoods.
Worden's work also includes studies of policy change. With Dr. Sarah McLean, she has assessed police departments' and prosecutors' policies and practices on family violence; they are planning a third wave of data collection to study the evolution of policies over the last fifteen years. She is also engaged in the study of policy variation and change at the state level. Over the last three decades, the increase in state and federal crime control measures has been well documented, but there has been little inquiry into concurrent changes in states' due process policies. Worden and co-author Andrew Davies are investigating the relationships between states' social, political and economic climates and states' policies on the right to counsel. They have recently expanded this line of study to include additional due process issues, such as felony disenfranchisement, civil commitment laws, and evidentiary rules.
Worden is also interested in contributing to a better understanding and incorporation of theory into criminal justice scholarship. With Dr. David Duffee, she is working on a project that assesses the use of theories from multiple disciplines in contemporary criminal justice research and that identifies questions and problems that might benefit from more theory-based inquiry.
Worden's research has appeared in both criminology/criminal justice outlets as well as justice and policy journals, including Law & Society Review, Criminology, Justice Quarterly, Law and Policy, Justice System Journal, and Judicature. Her work has been funded by the National Institute of Justice, the New York State Police, and the NY Office for Prevention of Domestic Violence.