Jennifer Mei Jun Yim — 2018 Leonard D. White Award Recipient

The American Political Science Association (APSA) will present the Leonard D. White Award to Dr. Jennifer Mei Jun Yim at the 2018 APSA Annual Meeting & Exhibition, the world’s largest gathering of political scientists and source for emerging scholarship in the discipline. The $750 prize, supported by the University of Chicago, recognizes the best dissertation on public administration.

Jennifer MJ Yim is the executive director of the Utah Judicial Performance Evaluation Commission (JPEC). Among her many justice system roles, she has served as a procedural justice consultant to the Utah Division of Juvenile Justice Services, a member in the merit selection process of judges, a Youth Parole Authority member, and as the primary staff person to the Utah Judicial Council’s Task Force on Racial and Ethnic Fairness in the Legal System. Ms. Yim graduated with a BA in sociology, magna cum laude, from Pomona College; an MPA from the University of Utah; and a Ph.D. in political science from the University of Utah in 2017. Ms. Yim’s research interests focus on conceptions of fairness in the justice system. Her dissertation, Delinquency’s Treatment: Why Interactions Produce Policy and Identity in Secure Juvenile Facilities, recommends the use of procedural justice in juvenile justice policy implementation as a complement to developmentally-appropriate delinquency treatment practices. Her research has been published in Court Review and the Journal of Political Science Education.

The 2018 Leonard D. White Award Committee is pleased to announce the selection of Jennifer Mei Jun Yim’s dissertation, Delinquency’s Treatment: Why Interactions Produce Policy and Identity in Secure Juvenile Facilities, as the recipient of this year’s award. In our era of mass incarceration and carceral citizenship, the treatment of juvenile offenders is at the heart of policy and governing. As Yim observes, most studies have focused on larger statistical trends, especially recidivism and costs. Her research examines the everyday interactions of incarcerated juveniles and staff in secure care facilities. For her dissertation, Yim engaged in extensive fieldwork and interviewed several types of staff and juveniles both living in and transitioning out of the secure “cottages” that were sites for her field observation. She also examined resident autobiographies and cottage policy documents. These original data provide the empirical foundation for Yim’s insights into both theory and practice.

Delinquency’s Treatment provides a compelling account of the lived experience and meaning of juvenile justice. Reading it in full is the only way to appreciate the power and nuance of this dissertation. Delinquency’s Treatment contributes a deeper understanding of how policy and practice shape—for better and worse—the identities of both clients: here, troubled youth and frontline workers. Yim also suggests changes so that policy better reflects practical experience. This is an important, insightful, and mature work.

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