Shawn Bushway

Examines the desistance process, and the effect of employer background check policies for individuals with criminal records

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Shawn Bushway

Rockefeller College of Public Affairs & Policy
Department: Public Administration and Policy

Criminal justice policy; the desistance process; sentencing policy in New York; court systems

Campus phone: (518) 591-8738
Campus email: [email protected]


Shawn Bushway is a Professor of Public Administration and Policy at the Rockefeller College of Public Affairs and Policy with a courtesy appointment in the School of Criminal Justice. His primary research interests involve criminal justice policy, the desistance process, and the effect of background check policies on employment for individuals with criminal history records.

Bushway is a member of New York State's Permanent Commission on Sentencing Reform, and he is an associate editor of the Journal of the Royal Statistical Society, Series A and the Journal of Quantitative Criminology, and he is on the editorial board for four other journals, including the Journal of Policy Analysis and Management.

He has presented work at the numerous conferences, including the Institute of Research on Poverty Summer Workshop, the Association of Public Policy Analysis and Management, Conference on Empirical Legal Studies, the American Society of Criminology, the Population Association of America, American Psychology and Law Association, and the NBER economics and crime summer workshop.

Bushway is currently involved in the following projects:

  • State-Mandated Criminal Background Employment Screening: A High Stakes Window into the Desistance Process: Together with co-PI Megan Kurlchek, Shawn is studying the background check process done by the Department of Health for people who work in nursing homes for the state of New York.
  • Understanding Guilty Pleas: This project is a Research Coordination Network funded by the National Science Foundation. Together with co-PIs Allison Redlich, Brian Johnson and Anne Piehl, and School of Criminal Justice Assistant Dean, Diana Mancini, Shawn is leading a three year network designed to develop new research on guilty pleas.

The vast majority (97 percent) of people in the U.S. who are convicted in the court system enter guilty pleas, but very little research has been conducted on the plea bargaining process. Bushway is particularly interested in finding new sources of data that follow people from arrest to conviction. He is also interested in developing new theoretical models of how actors in the criminal justice system make decisions about guilty pleas. The project will fund one graduate student, and several interdisciplinary conferences about plea bargaining.

Bushway received the University at Albany Award for Excellence in Research in 2013, and the State University of New York Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Scholarship in 2014. He is a graduate of the Heinz School of Public Policy at Carnegie Mellon University.