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Report: Gov. Justice appoints Mark Sorsaia as Secretary of Dept. of Homeland Security

Director chosen for research arm at W.Va. justice agency


CHARLESTON, W.Va. – An award-winning scientist will head the West Virginia office that conducts research to assist law enforcement, brief state policymakers, and aid the implementation of Justice Reinvestment and similar reforms.

Dr. Douglas Spence has been named director of the Office of Research and Strategic Planning (ORSP), effective immediately, by Director Rick Staton of the Division of Justice and Community Services. The ORSP is a key part of the division, which falls under the W.Va. Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety.

“Dr. Spence has been a valued contributor to the office’s success, and I believe his leadership will enhance its unique and critical role in preventing crime and safeguarding the public,” Staton said.

The office has been repeatedly honored over the last several years by its national peers for its research and analysis. Most recently, the office’s Criminal Justice Statistical Analysis Center won two 2016 Douglas Yearwood National Publication Awards. Presented annually by the Justice Research and Statistics Association (JRSA), these recognized an analysis of results from comprehensive risk and needs evaluations of offenders and a tracking study of those released from West Virginia Day Report Centers. Both topics are part of the state’s landmark Justice Reinvestment reforms.

Dr. Spence joined the office in March 2014 and became its acting director in December 2015. He earned his Ph.D in political science from the University of Tennessee and his B.A. from Ohio University. Dr. Spence’s research has been recognized by the JRSA and published in international criminal justice and social science journals. Dr. Spence also serves as a reviewer for several criminal justice journals and is a member of the JRSA’s national research committee and the institutional review board at Marshall University.

As part of the Division of Justice and Community Services, the ORSP features the Criminal Justice Statistical Analysis Center as well as the Justice Center for Evidence-Based Practice. The office’s team of researchers includes specialists in such fields as criminology, statistics, sociology, political science and psychology.