Criminal Justice Policies and Public Safety Regulations

Principal Investigator: 

Isaac Swensen, Ph.D, Assistant Professor, Agricultural Economics & Economics



SwensenIsaac Swensen's research program focuses on developing a better understanding of the effects of criminal justice policies and regulations on public safety. Three main areas of criminal justice policies and regulation will be the focus of this work. First, an assessment of the determinants of sexual assault on college campuses and the effect of prevention efforts, including information and awareness campaigns and other recent prevention efforts, on incidences of sexual assault on and around college campuses. Second, an examination of the the determinants of gun-ownership and use and the effect of gun regulations on public safety, with particular focus on concealed-carry laws and historical gun permitting laws. Third, an evaluation of the role of regulations and policies in reducing drug-related harms, with emphasis on the effects of expanding access to substance-abuse treatment on health and crime.

Isaac D. Swensen is an assistant professor in the Department of Agricultural Economics and Economics (DAEE) at Montana State University. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Oregon and joined the DAEE in 2013. His research covers a wide range of topics related to crime, health and education, and is tied together by his interest in understanding outcomes linked to risky behaviors and criminal activity. Several of his recent studies have evaluated the effects of expanding substance-abuse treatment services on community crime and health outcomes. Dr. Swensen’s current research also centers on understanding the causes and consequences of risky behaviors in higher educational settings, with a particular focus on sexual assault on college campuses and the effect of recent prevention efforts. His previous work in this area has focused on the link between a college campus party culture and the incidence of sexual assaults, and has been discussed by most major media outlets. A more recent line of his research focuses on identifying the determinants of gun ownership and the effects of gun-related regulations.

College Party Culture and Sexual Assault

Read Dr. Swensen's latest publication on College Party Culture and Sexual Assault: 

Isaac Swensen, Lindo, Jason, and Siminski, Peter (2017). "College Party Culture and Sexual Assault," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics

Tune in for an interview with American Economic Association:

"Party schools and sexual assault with Isaac Swensen about college football, excessive drinking, and threats against women on campus"

Mapping the Drug Epidemic and Treatment Access

By Isaac D. Swensen, Samuel R. Bondurant, and Jason M. Lindo·March 16, 2018 
Texas A&M University and Montana State University

Fueled in part by a raging opioid epidemic, drug overdose deaths have surged in the United States since 1999. More people currently die from drug overdoses than from motor vehicle accidents, as drug-related deaths have become the leading category of fatalities due to external causes. Yet access to treatment remains extremely limited. Currently, only about 1 in 10 people who need treatment for a substance use disorder receive that treatment. But there is evidence that increasing access to treatment reduces drug-related deaths. Moreover, providing greater access to treatment can have a broader community impact by reducing crime.

Read the full publication "Substance abuse treatment centers and local crime" in the Journal of Urban Economics