Shawn Bushway Professor, Department of Public Administration and Policy

Phone: (518) 591-8738
Office: 321 Milne Hall

Personal Website


Shawn D. Bushway is a Professor of Public Administration and Policy in the Rockefeller College of Public Affairs and Policy at the University at Albany.  He is leader in the field of criminology, serving as an Executive Counselor on the American Society of Criminology’s Executive Board, and a member of the four editorial boards. 

Shawn has done research in three distinct areas: the relationship between work and crime, the effect of discretion in criminal justice processing, and the study of desistance/dynamic change.  Occasionally, the areas intersect, such as his collection of studies on redemption. This work was driven by legal questions surrounding the appropriate role of criminal history records, particularly old criminal history records, in employment decisions.  Shawn’s analysis of long term hazard rates with co-authors Robert Brame and Megan Kurlychek helped to establish that first time youthful offenders eventually have the same levels of risk as non-offenders seven to ten years after their conviction.  These results have raised questions about the validity of lifetime bans against those with criminal history records.  A recent paper with Dutch colleagues has extended this work for older offenders with multiple convictions in an international context, and another recent paper in Criminology with Brame and Kurlychek has focused on using long term hazards to describe the nature of desistance. They found the strongest support for a model in which people have constant rates of offending along with a substantial probability of near instantaneous desistance after the most recent offense.   This line of work is continuing as part of an ongoing grant from the Bureau of Justice Statistics on recidivism using the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth.  
Shawn’s work on sentencing has resulted on numerous papers highlighting discretion in the criminal justice system.  This focus on discretion has led to a conviction about the importance of plea bargains. Shawn recently directed an NSF- funded symposium on the Future of Empirical Sentencing Research ( at Albany in which a consensus developed about the importance of plea bargains in explaining several macro trends in sentencing, including mass incarceration.  Plea bargains account for more than 95% of all felony convictions, but receive very little social scientific study.  Shawn has a current grant from National Institute of Justice with psychologist Allison Redlich which takes a mixed method approach to testing the most prominent theory of plea bargaining, bargaining in the shadow of the trial. Starting from this simple model, the goal is to build a realistic understanding of the process that generates plea bargains in the United States.


| FAX 518.442.3380 |

Copyright © Center for Social and Demographic Analysis. All Rights Reserved.