Michael A. Stoll

Michael A. Stoll is Professor of Public Policy in the Luskin School of Public Affairs at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). He serves as a Fellow at the American Institutes for Research, the Brookings Institution, the Institute for Research on Poverty at University of Wisconsin, Madison, and the National Poverty Center at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and served as a past Visiting Scholar at the Russell Sage Foundation.

Dr. Stoll’s published work explores questions of poverty, labor markets, migration, and crime. His past work includes an examination of the labor market difficulties of less-skilled workers, in particular the role that racial residential segregation, job location patterns, job skill demands, employer discrimination, job competition, transportation, job information and criminal records play in limiting employment opportunities.

His recent work examines the labor market consequences of mass incarceration and the benefits and costs of the prison boom. A recently completed book, Why Are so Many Americans in Prison, explores the causes of the American prison boom and what to do about it to insure both low crime and incarceration rates.

Much of his work has been featured in a variety of media outlets including NPR, PBS, the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, The Economist, Chicago Tribune, San Francisco Chronicle, and Washington Post, ABC, NBC, CBS, Univision, among other outlets.  He also regularly advises the U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services and Labor, as well as for state and local governments in various capacities.

Prof. Stoll received his Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and a B.S. from the University of California, Berkeley.

RECENT BOOKS

 

SELECTED BOOKS & PUBLICATIONS

Why are So Many Americans in Prison? jointly authored with Steven Raphael, New York, NY: Russell Sage Foundation, 2013.

Do Prisons Make Us Safer? The Benefits and Costs of the Prison Boom
edited with Steven Raphael, New York, NY: Russell Sage Foundation, 2009

Barriers to Reentry? The Labor Market for Released Prisoners in Post-Industrial America edited with David Weiman and Shawn Bushway, New York, NY: Russell Sage Foundation, 2007 (Selected as a Noteworthy Book in Industrial Relations by Princeton University’s Industrial Relations Section.)

Behind America’s Incarceration Boom

By Stan Paul

Why are so many Americans in prison?

This is the question asked in the title of a recently published book by the policy scholars Michael Stoll and Steven Raphael. They discussed the question this past week at a lunchtime talk hosted UCLA Luskin’s Department of Public Policy.

Stoll, professor and chair of the department, and co-author Steven Raphael, professor of public policy at UC Berkeley’s Goldman School of Public Policy, said that while asking the question seems obvious, getting to the question took a long time.

Arriving at the question posed in the title involved getting past myths such as the deinstitutionalization of the mentally ill between the 1950s and 1970s, or the introduction of crack into Americas cities and its supposed related effects on crime.

And, while “race does matter,” Stoll said, citing the disproportionately high incarceration rate of African American males, “this is an American problem and requires an American solution,” pointing out that the U.S. incarceration rate is “unparalleled” (more than 700 per 100,000) compared to Europe and the rest of the world.

Stoll and Raphael, who are longtime research collaborators, looked closely at the reasons why the incarceration rate has soared over the past decades into the millions nationwide, despite historically low rates in crime. Wading through all the popular conclusions and other factors that do not explain why incarceration has gone up so rapidly, their research pointed to political choices.

The bottom line for Stoll and Raphael is that since the 1980s, this increase is “attributable to changes in sentencing policy,” which has resulted in longer sentences, for example. New sentencing guidelines, “get tough on crime” policies and other politically driven efforts to address crime have only compounded the problem, pushing the system to the point where the costs of maintaining such a high incarceration rate begin to outweigh the benefits.

In their book, published by the Russell Sage Foundation, Stoll and Raphael explore alternatives aimed at reducing this incarceration trend.

The entire discussion is available for view on UCLA Luskin’s iTunes U channel.

Crime Forum Opens in Washington DC: Judge Alm Delivers on HOPE Rosenfield Forum brings together researchers to discuss methods of crime reduction

WASHINGTON, DC—Addressing the record incarceration rates across the U.S. and the boom in the prison population, the UCLA School of Public Affairs launched the first in a series of public discussions on critical national issues with the opening dinner of the Rosenfield Forums at the National Press Club in Washington DC.

“The Rosenfield Forums are an opportunity to bring together some of the country’s best thinkers, practitioners, advocates, policy makers, and other stakeholders,” says Dean Franklin D. Gilliam, Jr., “This week’s particular event focuses on encouraging all of us to think a little differently about how we reduce crime in the United States. This is an important and deeply corrosive phenomenon: it corrodes the public space, it corrodes our young people, and it crowds our prisons. Much of the worlds of crime and punishment are artificially constructed around these two poles—too much crime and too much incarceration. What you’ll see in this event is scholars grappling with the complexities of these issues, and presenting some elegant solutions—elegant in both simplicity and power.”

The inaugural forum, “Escaping the Prison Trap: How to Have Less Crime and Less Incarceration,” featured a keynote address on October 7 by the Honorable Steve S. Alm of the Hawaii State Judiciary. Alm is the creator of Project HOPE (Hawaii’s Opportunity and Probation and Enforcement), an innovative crime reduction program for drug offenses that has had dramatic success rates. Judge Alm described a frustrating sentencing and incarceration system that amounted to little more than a revolving door for minor drug offenders to move in and out of the judicial system.

“I can send them to the beach, or send them to prison—it’s crazy that these were the only options.” After gaining cooperation from several agencies, including the probation department, the sheriffs and U.S. marshals, Judge Alm created a systematic approach in which offenders were given instructions for calling a telephone hotline to see if they were selected that day for random drug testing. If they tested positive for drugs, they are arrested on the spot and brought up for a hearing within two days. “Swift and certain consequence is the key.” Says Alm, “If probationers know there will be caught and punished, they will not violate. Probation officers are pleased with the results, because clients were showing up to their appointments, and showing up sober.”

The program has had remarkable success in Hawaii (up to a 50% drop in repeat offenses among drug probationers); has been replicated by other judges; and has become the focus of research by UCLA Public Policy Professor Mark Kleiman and Pepperdine University Public Policy Professor Angela Hawken. The Department of Justice has funded a program to introduce the program to other jurisdictions across the country.

The Rosenfield Forums continue on October 8 at the Rayburn Building on Capital Hill with panel discussions on: reducing juvenile crime and incarceration, led by Associate Professor Laura Abrams of the Department of Social Welfare; the consequences of mass incarceration, led by Professor Michael Stoll of the Department of Public Policy; and getting more crime control with less punishment, led by Professor Mark Kleiman of the Department of Public Policy.