WRITTEN BY MARISSA PLAIA
Dr. Emily Horowitz doesn’t just teach Sociology and Criminal Justice at St. Francis College, but also spends time conducting research and running the senior citizen lecture series.
Most of her research involves wrongful convictions, but she also studies educational policy and more specifically, the problem of overcrowding in public schools.
Horowitz first became interested in wrongful convictions when she met an innocent man who had been convicted for the sexual abuse of a child.
“His experience of spending over a decade in prison for a crime he didn’t commit was horrifying and for a crime perceived to be worse than murder, I decided I wanted to better understand what causes wrongful convictions as well as the hysteria surrounding crimes against children, which leads to wrongful convictions as well as draconian sentencing,” Horowitz told SFC Today.
Horowitz is also the author of “Protecting Our Kids? How Sex Offender Laws Are Failing Us.” In her book, she discusses sex offender policies and how they are largely based on panic and fear rather than real facts and evidence.
Horowitz received her Ph.D. from Yale University and credits her dissertation adviser Debra Minkoff for being a mentor as well as inspiring sociologist.
Minkoff was the first to encourage encouraging her to start serious research and write articles about her results. Journalist Debbie Nathan, who frequently writes articles on subjects that most other people try to avoid, also inspired Horowitz.
The combination of these mentors as well as her desire to do research, teach and advocate has led to her successful work on wrongful convictions.
Horowitz teaches because she wants to give students the same knowledge she has.
“I’ve always wanted to be a professor,” Horowitz told SFC Today. “The greatest thing about the job is teaching students about the strengths and weaknesses of our criminal justice system.”
Horowitz has refreshing ideas about how we should be using our criminal justice system as a nation.
America’s sentencing policies are focused on vengeance and punishment instead of rehabilitation and reentry, Horowitz said, and that troubles her.
“As a sociologist I’m in a unique position where I’m able to use research and data to challenge the false assumption that the public – and children – are safer when we emphasize harsh and permanent punishment for crime,” she said.
Horowitz. makes sure she shares her research ideas with her students, which helps her work as well as the work of the students. She has also run the senior lecture series in which she welcomes guests who discuss a topic in the Sociology/Criminal Justice field. This has taught her the importance of having senior citizens in class each week and the value of including them in discussions, Horowitz said.
Horowitz is grateful to be a part of SFC because of its exceptional faculty and the fact that it has many programs that other small colleges don’t offer – including the Center for Crime and Popular Culture, the American Studies Program, the Women’s Center and the Women’s Studies Minor.
“I’m really lucky to teach here and be surrounded by such exceptional students and colleagues,” Horowitz said.