An update of the Center's work in school safety, violence prevention, juvenile and criminal justice, public health, and prevention.
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Winter Update, December 2018/January-February 2019

This issue of the Justice & Prevention Research Center (JPRC) newsletter continues the series From the JPRC Director’s Desk, a reflection on the early years of a 35-year professional journey. It then highlights several new projects and a partnership, recent presentations, publications, and media coverage of JPRC work. It concludes by introducing a new colleague in WestEd’s Health & Justice Program.


The twists and turns in a professional career: How getting fired from Coca-Cola launched my career

In the Fall 2018 issue of the JPRC newsletter, I wrote about reflecting on my career, prompted by colleagues asking me about how I ended up in the research world and at WestEd. In the first installment I explored how I was attracted, through my early 20s, to police work, inspired by a family legacy stretching back generations. I was never able to pass the necessary vision test (or, in the case of the FBI, other exams) to get to the next stage of being selected for a police academy. I continued as a store detective in a department store in New Jersey for a couple of years and then started taking graduate courses in criminal justice at the Rutgers School of Criminal Justice in Newark, New Jersey. I did okay in the classes, but I was 23 years old and not passionate about anything. I stopped taking courses after finishing 12 credits.

In 1984, my older brother, who was working in the marketing department for the Coca-Cola Bottling Company of New York (“Coke-NY”), contacted me about my interest in a supervisor position. It was with St. George’s Recycling Center, a company that handled the returns of Coca-Cola soda containers (e.g., bottles) to stores in New York. Although the job was outside of my law enforcement interests, I took it because it meant a substantial pay increase, from $5.00 to $8.50 per hour. That job shortly led to my getting hired by Coke-NY as a “transportation supervisor.” The basic task was to dispatch truck drivers to haul soda from production facilities to warehouses, where the cases of sodas and other products were off-loaded on to smaller trucks for delivery to supermarkets and convenience stores. It was a challenging job because I worked the midnight shift, and the only contact I had was with other people who worked similar shifts such as police officers, ambulance drivers, and folks who worked at 24-hour diners. Although I looked happy in this picture (with a great driver named Larry Farkas), I knew that the dispatch job was not for me.

But I stuck it out and within another 18 months, I was offered a promotion to a new position as a Production Line Supervisor at a bottling plant near Queens, NY. I oversaw a can line to ensure our team made our targeted number of cases of soda each day. It was a very tough job, working in a warehouse that was very noisy and filled with daily challenges (e.g., equipment breaking, union grievances, upper-level demands for production). One day, I broke up a fight between two workers on the production line. While neither worker had a good reputation, I still thought I was doing a good thing until one of the managers said, “you should have let them fight…we could have fired both of them on the spot.” And he later added, “You really screwed up, Anthony.” I had a strong yearning to get out of Coke-NY, but I just couldn’t walk away from a good paying job. (That picture is me in my supervisor’s uniform, with fear in my eyes, looking for a way out.) But things were about to change.

I’m not sure how this works in the business world, but in June of 1986, Coke-USA, based in Atlanta, bought out Coke-NY. The first thing they did was go on an “austerity program” to cut costs. They fired half of the supervisors across the company. As tough as running one production line was, the new leadership said, “there’s no reason a supervisor can’t oversee two lines at once.” When I heard about that plan, I was praying that I would be one of the supervisors who would be terminated. The tension was thick in the warehouse for days, and finally I was summoned into the plant manager’s office, where he was sitting with a Coke-NY Vice-President who was hoping to stay on with the new leadership. The Vice-President said, “it gives me great pleasure to carry out Coke-USA’s austerity program,” and he proceeded to tell me I was being fired (little did he know that he would be terminated within a few days as well). He then asked for my Coke-NY shirts, hats, pants, and even a calculator they had given me to help compute the sodas’ syrup-to-water ratios. Earlier that day, as people were receiving news of their terminations, emotions had run hot and a few of the folks who had been fired destroyed their offices and a few others had made physical threats against the bosses. When it was my turn to be fired, a security guard escorted me to the parking lot and did not allow me to say goodbye to colleagues I had worked with for months.

But when they fired me, they surprisingly provided me a with a small severance package. It took the edge off job hunting for a few weeks while I started to contemplate what I wanted to do next. As I had already finished 12 credits in the Masters’ program at Rutgers, I decided to re-enroll to finish, with the idea that I would go on to law school (two of my cousins were lawyers). But when I got back into the program in September 1986, I was a little older, a little more mature, and certainly more serious about my education. I thoroughly loved my classes and my professors. The faculty list at the time read as a “Who’s Who in Criminology”: Adler, Clear, Finckenauer, Gottfredson, Mueller, von Hirsch, and many others. One of my professors, teaching courses on statistics and on research methods, was a brilliant young scholar named David Weisburd. I did well in his classes, and he saw something in me that I certainly did not see in myself. Soon thereafter, he asked me to work for him as a research assistant. In the next issue of the JPRC newsletter, I’ll write about the powerful role that the mentorship by David and others has had in my professional career.


Evaluations of projects funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Healthy Children and Families grants

The JPRC received a contract from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) to evaluate several of its grant-funded programs under RWJF’s Healthy Children and Families (formerly Healthy Children, Healthy Weight) portfolio. The JPRC, in collaboration with researchers from the University of California, Los Angeles, will conduct 5–10 evaluation studies over a three-year period to inform RWJF and grantees about selected program implementation and progress.

Evaluation of the International Baccalaureate Primary Years Program

The International Baccalaureate (IB) has contracted with WestEd’s Health & Justice Program to conduct an evaluation of the IB’s Primary Years Programme (PYP) in California elementary schools. The PYP employs an inquiry-led, transdisciplinary framework to encourage children “to think for themselves and take responsibility for their learning as they explore local and global issues and opportunities in real-life contexts.” WestEd’s evaluation will rely on case studies of PYP schools and an analysis of California Healthy Kids Survey data to examine the impact of PYP on school culture and climate.

Evaluation of the Gouk-Gumu Xolpelema Tribal Home Visiting Program

WestEd’s Health & Justice Program received a contract from Lake County Tribal Health Consortium (LCTHC) to evaluate the Gouk-Gumu Xolpelema Tribal Home Visiting Program. The program uses an evidence-based case management approach to provide multiple services and parenting education to meet the diverse needs of new mothers in Lake County, California. WestEd will conduct a three-year evaluation and will also assist in the collection of local data for a national evaluation designed to better understand home visiting in tribal communities.  


WestEd partners with the National Police Foundation on its Center for Mass Violence Response Studies

To further its mission to advance public safety through innovation and science, the National Police Foundation — a nonpartisan, nonprofit research organization — launched the Center for Mass Violence Response Studies (CMVRS). The CMVRS relies on a private and public partnership network to help expand the knowledge and understanding of mass violence to enhance prevention, response, and recovery on a community level and an individual level. WestEd is pleased to be one of its partners and will look for joint opportunities with the CMVRS to conduct research and evaluation that contributes to the evidence that guides responses to such events.  


WestEd’s award-winning publication, R&D Alert®, provides timely information on issues affecting schools and communities nationwide. A recent issue of the R&D Alert focused on health, safety, and justice. It explores:
  • Trauma-informed practices in education
  • A collaborative approach to supporting disconnected youth
  • Positive school climate and student-led restorative justice practices 
  • WestEd’s research, resources, and services focused on health, safety, and justice.


Scared Straight and similar programs focus on young people who are at risk for future delinquency, bringing these youths to correctional facilities to deter them from engaging in crimes in the future. The JPRC’s research has indicated that Scared Straight programs are not effective and may have harmful effects. The Charlotte Observer recently published a two-part series on a Scared Straight program in Chester County, North Carolina. The first article is entitled “Sheriff says ‘Scared Straight’ program helps troubled kids. Experts say it’s child abuse.” The second article is entitled “‘Scared Straight’ creator takes on critics, contending success stories abound.” Both articles quote the JPRC Director.

The United Nations University Centre for Policy Research report to the United Nations-World Bank Study on Conflict Prevention cites our 2015 review of interventions to address urban gun violence. Our review was also cited by a 2016 report published by the U.S. Agency for International Development that reviews what works to prevent community violence.

The Maryland Commission on the School-to-Prison Pipeline and Restorative Practices cited our review of research on Restorative Justice in Schools in its final report.

School Business Affairs, an online publication of the Association of School Business Officials International, included our brief, Five Misconceptions About School Shootings, in its list of tools and resources. This brief was one of WestEd’s five most downloaded resources in 2018.

ChildStats.Gov cited our review on the effects of formal juvenile system processing of delinquents in its brief on “Residential placement of juveniles.”


Papers to be presented at the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences (ACJS) meeting

At the ACJS’s next annual meeting (March 26–30, 2019, in Baltimore), the JPRC team will present four papers across four panels and will chair one panel. The presentations cover our work in violence prevention as well as adult criminal justice and juvenile justice systems. Our presentations will be on the following:
  • The Influence of Adult Supports on Perceptions of Crimes Among Juveniles
  • Evaluation Findings of Minnesota Statewide Initiative to Reduce Recidivism Grant
  • A Community Thread: The Role of Community-Based Organizational Networks in Crime Prevention
  • State Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative: Case Study Findings

Papers on bullying intervention program to be presented at American Educational Research Association (AERA) annual meeting

At the next AERA annual conference (April 5–9 in Toronto, Canada), WestEd and JPRC researchers will present the findings from their study (funded by the National Institute of Justice) of the No Bully System. The first paper is entitled “Evaluating the Impacts of the No Bully System on School Safety and Climate” and the second is entitled “In the Shadows: School Experiences Among Students Prone to Bullying.” They are a part of a panel entitled “Student-Centered Approaches to Support Student Engagement and School Climate.” 


Introducing the newest member of our team: Natalie Walrond

Natalie Walrond has joined WestEd’s Health & Justice Program and is WestEd’s Director of Cross-Sector Initiatives. She is responsible for developing WestEd projects that invite partnership across social sectors (such as health, justice, and child welfare) to strengthen children, families, and communities. Her initial focus is on trauma and resilience in children, from prenatal to adulthood. Natalie brings over 20 years of experience in education, finance, and strategy for both for-profit and nonprofit organizations. She has served in a variety of roles: investor, management team member, board leader, and outside consultant. Natalie earned a bachelor’s degree in international studies and international business from Trinity University and an MBA from the University of Chicago, with concentrations in analytic finance and policy studies. She earned the Chartered Financial Analyst designation in 1999. Natalie currently serves on the boards of Beyond 12 and Center for Youth Wellness.

Subscribe to the School Climate Connection Newsletter (SCCN)

WestEd’s Health & Justice Program oversees the SCCN. You can subscribe here to keep informed about the latest research, resources, policies, and practices related to school climate and student, staff, and parent supports.

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WestEd is the proud home of the Justice & Prevention Research Center. For updates on the entire scope of issues that WestEd addresses, including our justice work, subscribe to the WestEd E-Bulletin and get the latest news, research, and resources sent straight to your inbox.  


WestEd Justice & Prevention Research Center (JPRC), part of the Health & Justice Program, is a WestEd initiative that collaborates with partners in funding, implementing, and evaluating programs that promote positive youth development, physical health and well-being, and prevention of risk behaviors, including violence. Keep current on the latest JPRC reports, research studies, projects, events, and news by subscribing to our monthly newsletter, visiting the JPRC website, or by emailing Anthony Petrosino, the director of JPRC, at

WestEd is a nationally recognized nonprofit research, development, and service agency. The agency’s mission is to promote excellence, achieve equity, and improve social and learning outcomes for children, youth, and adults. WestEd has a long history of effective collaboration with local community, justice, and education agencies in implementing and evaluating successful programs that promote positive youth development, physical health and well-being, and prevention of risk behaviors, including violence.
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