Amy Dezember

Amy Dezember

Amy Dezember

Graduate Teaching Assistant

Plea bargaining, legal decision-making, courts & criminal procedures, program evaluation and policy implementation

Amy Dezember is a doctoral candidate in Criminology, Law and Society at George Mason University. Her research interests include plea bargaining, Alford pleas, legal decision-making, and the role of evidence in the decision-making process. Her dissertation research, which has received support from the National Science Foundation, investigates Alford pleas and the role of evidence in these cases by examining court records and conducting interviews with court actors to learn more about the process for offering, negotiating, and accepting these unique pleas. In addition to her dissertation research, she currently works as a Graduate Research Assistant to Dr. Allison D. Redlich on a National Science Foundation and National Institute of Justice funded-project looking at youth and adult engagement in the guilty plea process. She has been published in Psychology, Public Policy, and Law, Courts and Justice Law Journal, and has written numerous book chapters about guilty pleas and the use of risk assessments in the criminal justice system.

Amy also has a particular interest in evidence-based criminal justice practices and partnering with practitioners to translate research into effective policy. Prior to coming to GMU, Amy worked in applied research conducting criminal justice research and evaluations at the state and federal level. Her research has spanned all areas of the criminal justice system, including evaluations of school resource officers and school safety, the federal indigent defense system, drug treatment programs, alternative probation supervision systems, and national domestic violence crisis intervention services. Additionally, she has also worked in the non-profit advocacy sector focusing on juvenile sentencing policy reform and in a federal public defender's office conducting legal research. 

Current Research

Examining Alford Pleas and the Presumption of Strong Evidence (Dissertation Chair: Dr. Allison D. Redlich)

Youth and Adult Engagement in the Plea Bargaining Process (PI: Dr. Allison D. Redlich)

Selected Publications

Dezember, A., Stoltz, M., Marmolejo, L., Kanewske, L.C., Doyle Feingold, K., Wire, S., Duhaime, L., & Maupin, C. (2020). Research Note: The Lack of Experimental Research in Criminology – Evidence from Criminology and Justice Quarterly. Journal of Experimental Criminology. doi: 10.1007/s11292-020-09425-y

Doyle Feingold, K. & Dezember, A. (2019). Does a trial penalty exist in a criminal justice system that provides a right to jury sentencing? Courts and Justice Law Journal, 1(2), 168-199.

Dezember, A. & Redlich, A. D. (2019). Plea Bargaining in the Shadow of the Trial: The Role of Evidence and Prosecutorial Discretion. In C. Spohn & P. Brennan (Eds.), Sentencing Policies and Practices in the 21st Century (pp. 168-187). New York: Routledge.

Luna, S., Dezember, A., & Redlich, A.D. (2019). The Validity of Misdemeanor Pleas. In A. Smith & S. Maddan (Eds.), The Lower Criminal Courts. New York: Routledge. 

Kaasa, S.O., Tatar, J.R., Dezember, A., Cauffman, E. (2018). The Impact of Waiver to Adult Court on Youths’ Perceptions of Procedural Justice. Psychology, Public Policy, and Law, 24(4), 418-429.

Taxman, F.S. with Dezember, A. (2016). The Value and Importance of Risk and Need Assessment (RNA) in Corrections & Sentencing: An Overview of the Handbook. In F.S. Taxman
(Ed.), Handbook on Risk and Need Assessment: Theory and Practice (pp. 1-20). New York: Routledge.

Byrne, J.M. & Dezember, A. (2016). The Research Director Perspective on the Design, Implementation, and Impact of Risk Assessment and Offender Classification Systems in USA Prisons: A National Survey. In F.S. Taxman (Ed.), Handbook on Risk and Need Assessment: Theory and Practice (pp. 49-64). New York: Routledge. 

Via, B., Dezember, A., Taxman, F.S. (2016). Exploring How to Measure Criminogenic Needs: Five Instruments and No Real Answers. In F.S. Taxman (Ed.), Handbook on Risk and Need Assessment: Theory and Practice (pp. 312-330). New York: Routledge.

Grants and Fellowships

Doctoral Summer Research Fellowship, Office of the Provost (2018-2020)

Doctoral Dissertation Research Improvement Grant, National Science Foundation (2019)

Doctoral Summer Scholarship, Department of Criminology, Law and Society (2017-2019)

Grant in Aid for Students, American Psychology-Law Society (2018)

Shirley Fox Scholarship for Academic Excellence, Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (2017)

Courses Taught

CRIM 305: Crime and Crime Policy

CRIM 307: Social Inequalities & Crime

CRIM 312: Intelligence Analysis Techniques (teaching assistant)

CRIM 495: Capstone in Criminology, Law and Society (teaching assistant)


PhD (ADB) in Criminology, Law and Society, George Mason University

M.S. in Justice, Law and Society, American University

B.A. in Criminal Justice & Sociology, Gonzaga University

Recent Presentations

Dezember, A. (2020, November). Examining Alford Pleas and the Presumption of Strong Evidence: Responses and Perspectives from Court Actors. In S. Yan (Chair) Plea Bargaining and Charge Negotiation. Paper submitted to the Annual Meeting of the American Society of Criminology, Washington, DC. [Conference canceled due to COVID-19].

Dezember, A., Woestehoff, S.A., Quas, J.A., & Redlich, A.R. (2020, March). Impact of Plea Knowledge & Attorney Satisfaction on Procedural Justice Perceptions for Guilty Pleas. In S. Luna & A. Dezember (Chairs) Understanding Guilty Pleas and Modeling Plea Decision-Making. Paper presented at the American Psychology-Law Society Annual Conference, New Orleans, LA.

Dezember, A. (2019, November). Examining Alford Pleas and the Presumption of Strong Evidence. In S. Yan (Chair) Variation in Guilty Pleas and Suspended Sentences. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Society of Criminology, San Francisco, CA.

Dezember, A., Stoltz, M., Manley, M., Woodruff, M., Woestehoff, S., & Redlich, A.D. (2019, May). The Strength of Evidence in the Bargaining Process. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting on Law and Society, Washington, DC. 

Dezember, A., Kulbicki, K., Korelitz, B., & Meadows, K. (2019, April). An examination of the geographic characteristics of victimization experiences in the Local Crime Victimization Survey (LCVS). Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Association of Geographers, Washington, DC.

Dezember, A., Luna, S., Stoltz, M., Manley, M., & Redlich, A.D.  (2018, November) The Validity of Misdemeanor Guilty Pleas. In M. Omori (Chair) Advances in Study of Guilty Pleas and Prosecution. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Society of Criminology, Atlanta, GA.