Victor St. John is a research scientist at Child Trends within the youth development program area, where he primarily serves as the principal investigator for the evaluation of the Osborne Association’s PREPARE reentry program and the deputy director of the National Technical Assistance Center for the Education of Neglected or Delinquent Children and Youth. Victor is also an assistant professor of criminology and criminal justice at Saint Louis University within the School of Social Work, College of Public Health and Social Justice.

Can you tell us about your primary research interest(s)?

My research focuses on the causes of mass criminalization and the associated racially disproportionate harms that result from overreliance on police, courts, and correctional systems to address social problems; and on strategies to mitigate and end such harms.

What sparked your interest in researching ways to reduce criminalization and its associated harms?

My upbringing in Brooklyn, New York exposed me to the ways in which the criminal-legal system may, at times, negatively impact the lives of people who look like me and disrupt entire families and communities. My experience working in youth and adult corrections settings also furthered my focus on this type of research.

What books or journal articles have most influenced you?

I have been really influenced by a number of books, including The Souls of Black Folk by Dubois, Foucault’s Punishment and Discipline, Suicide by Durkheim, The Culture of Control by Garland, and My Grand Mother’s Hands by Menakem. For a journal article, I would throw in the Psychiatric Effects of Solitary Confinement by Grassian.

What are your hobbies or interests outside of research?

Outside of research, I am very much into health and fitness, which includes anything from strength training, to hiking, to simply listening to podcast episodes of The Huberman Lab.

To wrap up, can you tell us a fun or interesting fact about yourself or your family?

A fun fact about myself and my family is that I have four sisters.