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Cassia Spohn

Faculty Profile: Cassia Spohn, Ph.D

Criminology and Criminal Justice


Cassia Spohn

Office: UCENT 609

Phone: 602-496-2334


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University of Nebraska-Lincoln, B.A
University of Nebraska-Lincoln, M.A
University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Ph.D

ASU at the Downtown Campus
Criminology and Criminal Justice
411 N. Central Ave. Ste. 600
Phoenix, AZ 85004


Cassia Spohn received her Ph.D. in political science from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 1978. Prior to joining the faculty at Arizona State University, she was a Professor in the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, where she served as director of graduate studies for 12 years and as department chair for one year. Spohn is the author of How Do Judges Decide? The Search for Fairness and Justice in Punishment. She also is the co-author of five books, including Policing and Prosecuting Sexual Assault: Inside the Criminal Justice System, The Color of Justice: Race, Ethnicity, and Crime in America and Rape Law Reform: A Grassroots Movement and Its Impact. She has published more than 100 articles on topics such as the effects of race/ethnicity and sex on state and federal sentencing decisions, sentencing of drug offenders, case processing decisions in sexual assault cases, and the deterrent effect of imprisonment. Her work has been supported by the National Science Foundation, the National Institute of Justice, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. In 1987 her research was cited by the U.S. Supreme Court in the landmark case, McCleskey v. Kemp. In 2011 she was named an ASU Foundation Professor and in 2013 she was awarded ASU’s Faculty Achievement Award for Defining Edge Research in Social Sciences.  She has been the editor of Justice Quarterly since 2011.

Courses taught:

  • CRJ 501 Seminar in Criminal Justice
  • CRJ 513 Seminar on Courts and Sentencing
  • CRJ 518 Seminar on Race, Ethnicity, Gender and Crime
  • CRJ 553 Seminar on Courts and Sentencing

Research Interests:

  • The effects of race/ethnicity and gender on sentencing decisions
  • Sentencing and recidivism of drug offenders
  • Police and prosecutorial decision making in sexual assault cases
  • The effect of a criminal record on employment prospects

Recent Publications:

  • Spohn, Cassia.  2013. The effects of race and ethnicity on federal sentencing outcomes in the guidelines era.”  Law and Contemporary Problems. Forthcoming.
  • Spohn, Cassia and Tellis, Katharine.  2013. Policing and Prosecuting Sexual Assault: Lessons from Los Angeles. Lynne Rienner Publishers.
  • Spohn, Cassia and Belenko, Steven.  2013. Do the drugs, do the time? The effect of drug abuse on sentences imposed on drug offenders in three U.S. District Courts. Criminal Justice and Behavior, 40: 646-670.
  • Spohn, Cassia and Sample, Lisa. 2013.  The dangerous drug offender in federal court:  Intersections of race, ethnicity and culpability, Crime & Delinquency, 59: 3-31.
  • Wang, Xia., Mears, Dan, Spohn, Cassia and Dario, Lisa. 2013. Assessing the effects of race and ethnicity on sentence outcomes in jurisdictions with different types of sentencing systems. Crime & Delinquency, 59: 87-114.
  • Cano, Mario and Spohn, Cassia.  2012. Circumventing the penalty: Assessing the impact of substantial assistance departures on mandatory minimum sentencing.” Criminal Justice and Behavior, 39: 308-332.
    •    Spohn, Cassia and Tellis, Katharine. 2011. Justice denied? An analysis of the exceptional clearance of rape cases in Los Angeles.” Albany Law Review, 75: 1379-1420.
  • Anderson, Amy and Spohn,  Cassia. 2010. Lawlessness in the federal sentencing process? A test for uniformity and consistency in sentence outcomes. Justice Quarterly, 27: 363-393.
  • Spohn, Cassia and Fornango, Robert, 2009.  U.S. Attorneys and substantial assistance departures:  Testing for inter-prosecutor disparity,” Criminology 47: 813-846.

Community Involvement

  • Standing Review Panel on Violence Against Women, National Institute of Justice
  •  Advisory Board Member, Prosecution and Racial Justice Project, Vera Institute of Justice
  • Consultant to Legal Defense Fund (NAACP) Criminal Justice Reform Initiative.

Achievements and Pursuits

  • Fellow, American Society of Criminology, 2013
  • Faculty Achievement Award for Defining Edge Research in Social Science, ASU, 2013
  • Foundation Professor, ASU, 2011
  • Outstanding Scholar in Corrections and Sentencing, Division on Corrections Sentencing, American Society of Criminology, 2006

Professional Affiliations

  • American Society of Criminology
  • Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences
  • European Society of Criminology
  • Western Society of Criminology
  • Law and Society Association


  • Race/Ethnicity
  • Crime and Justice
  • Evaluation Research
  • Courts and Sentencing
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