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Nicole Sherman

Nikki Sherman 2014-15 Peterson Fellow

Nicole Sherman is a doctoral student in UCI’s Criminology, Law and Society department. She graduated from San Diego State University with a B.S. in Criminal Justice, a B.A. in Sociology, and a minor in Anthropology. During her undergraduate and early graduate experience, she was employed by the Western Criminology Review, the official peer-reviewed journal of the Western Society of Criminology as the Editorial Assistant. Since beginning her graduate career, she has developed a wide range of projects to explore her research interests, which include sentencing and punishment, the role of identity in criminal justice system experiences, and the intersection of military veterans and the criminal justice system. She is currently a part of the multi-city, multi-method “Gun Violence in Urban America” project, working with Dr. George Tita and Dr. Keramet Reiter, faculty in CLS, to understand how people think about guns, gun law, and to develop a richer context for how and why people procure illegal firearms.

First established in Buffalo, NY in 2008, a unique form of specialty courts know as Veterans Treatment Courts (VTCs) have since proliferated throughout the United States. Recognizing that criminal behavior stems from multiple loci, VTCs utilize a therapeutic approach to simultaneously treat PTSD from combat trauma, substance abuse issues, and criminality. VTCs are especially important to examine because of their recognized success in curbing recidivism for their clients. During the fellowship period, I will be researching how VTCs generally function and what specific correlates appear to be associated with criminal desistance. My project builds on over a year of nonparticipant observation at a southern California VTC and will utilize in-depth interviews with participants and court staff to show how participants restructure their lives through powerful narratives, community support, and reaffirmation of a veteran identity. Moreover, I will explain how a veteran label and belief in legitimacy in the court facilitates positive outcomes for participants. That is, this project attempts to bridge criminological theory of desistance and socio-legal studies of court processes to identify the influential mechanisms that may lead to successful outcomes for offenders who complete the VTC program.