Participant Info

First Name
Last Name
Santa Clara University
Sentencing, incarceration, reentry, reintegration, expungement, criminal records
Media Contact

Personal Info

About Me

Elsa Chen’s published work focuses primarily on analyses of the implementation and effects of sentencing policies, including “Three Strikes and You’re Out.” Her current research studies policies associated with the de-escalation of mass incarceration and prisoner reintegration into society. She is P.I. of a 3-year NSF-funded project that combines interviews of court officials and analysis of quantitative data to examine the implementation and effects of CA Proposition 36 (2012) to reform Three Strikes. With co-author Ericka Adams, Chen is completing an interview-based study of the effects of criminal record expungement. Her next project, in partnership with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation and the Division of Adult Parole Operations, will evaluate innovative approaches to lifer reentry. Her work has appeared in journals including Justice Quarterly, Social Science Quarterly, the Journal of Contemporary Criminal Justice, the Journal of Ethnicity in Criminal Justice, and (forthcoming) Punishment and Society. Elsa co-chairs the American Society of Criminology’s Division on People of Color and Crime and serves on the US Dept. of Justice, Office of Justice Programs’ Science Advisory Board and the ASC Policy Committee.

Recent Publications

Adams, Ericka, Elsa Y. Chen, and Rosella Chapman. “Erasing the Mark of a Criminal Past: Ex-Offenders’ Expectations and Experiences with Record Clearance.” Forthcoming (2016) in Punishment & Society.

Chen, Elsa Y. and Kevin Nomura. “And Justice for All? Racial and Ethnic Sentencing Disparities in California’s Federal Drug Sentencing.” California Journal of Politics and Policy Volume 7, Number 2, May 2015 (

Chen, Elsa Y. “In the Furtherance of Injustice, Injustice, or Both?  A Multilevel Analysis of Courtroom Context and the Implementation of Three Strikes.” Justice Quarterly Volume 31, Number 2, April 2014, p. 257-286.

Chen, Elsa Y. “All Punishment is Local: The Effects of Jurisdictional Context on Sentence Length.” Social Science Quarterly Volume 94, Number 5 (December 2013), p. 1372-1397.

 Chen, Elsa Y. “Three Strikes: Passage, Implementation, Evaluation, and Reform.” Invited chapter in Criminal Justice Policy. Editors Stacy Mallicoat and Christine Gardiner. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications (2013).

Media Coverage
Country Focus

Research Areas

If this is your entry, please click here to request a link to edit your information.