Meet the Professor: Candace Kruttschnitt

The Department of Sociology at the University of Toronto has a diverse faculty of professors who have a wide range of experiences. While they share backgrounds in sociology and its intersecting disciplines, each faculty member has individual experiences that have shaped their academic careers. In this series, we interview faculty at the St. George campus to acknowledge and share these stories, and get to know the influences behind their journeys.

Professor Candace Kruttschnitt is a Professor of Sociology and Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada. Her current research encompasses work on female offenders and comparative penology. In this interview, she discusses how criminology and sociology intersect in her work, and shares some insight from her teaching career.

How did you narrow down your areas of research and ultimately decide your field?

My field within Criminology focuses on women as offenders, victims and prison inmates. It all started with a tiny article in the New York Times that focused on increasing arrest rates for women. I found that fascinating and it ended up being the central question in PhD dissertation. Of course, then you start publishing from your dissertation and before you know it, that is your area of expertise.

What do you love about sociology?

As a Criminologist, what I love about sociology is the breadth of the field. If I am working on a paper that involves the mental health of prison inmates, I can talk to Blair Wheaton about what I should be reading. Or a few years ago, the British Journal of Sociology asked me to revise and resubmit an article and it over-lapped with some of the work on immigration. Not knowing this field, I went to Ron Levi for help. I love being surrounded by people who can teach me things and who enrich my knowledge base.

Do you have any stories about particularly positive experiences you have had teaching sociology to undergraduates?

I have had some great times teaching a fourth year seminar on punishment. You can see the students really open up over the course of the semester and share their experiences. I have learned a lot from the students in those courses.

What is one piece of advice you would give to students taking your classes and/or completing a major in sociology? 

Do the best you can; it will always pay off. Don’t be afraid to ask lots of questions to challenge your instructor and take advantage of their office hours; they are there to help you.  

Professor Candace Kruttschnitt named a juror for the Stockholm Prize in Criminology

Professor Candace Kruttschnitt has recently been selected to serve as a member of the International Jury of the Stockholm Prize Criminology. As a member of the jury, Professor Kruttschnitt will be one of the eleven jurors to select the recipient of the annual Stockholm Prize. She will be invited to attend the annual meeting of the Jury as a guest of the University of Stockholm, and will be introduced in the Nobel Prize banqueting hall (the Blue Room of the Stockholm Stadsthuset ) prior to the award of each Prize by either the Justice Minister or a member of the Royal Family.

The Prize has a permanent endowment now in excess of 50 Million SKR, which yields a Prize amount each year of 1,000,000 SKR or more. These funds were established jointly by the Swedish Parliament and a group of Swedish and overseas foundations. Since 2006, the Prize has been awarded annually to outstanding contributions to the science of criminology, or to the application of criminological research to the reduction or crime or the advancement of human rights.

Professor Kruttschnitt was selected as a juror based on her international reputation in Criminology. The co-chairs of the jury wrote that they felt honoured to have her on the Jury and commended her as “extremely active world-wide in her research and participation in criminological conferences,” stating also that they “value highly both her knowledge and her judgment.”

We congratulate Professor Kruttschnitt on this commendation and are confident that she will be a valuable asset to the committee.

Congratulations to Professor Candace Kruttschnitt on being inducted into the Royal Society of Canada

Candace KruttschnittProfessor Candace Kruttschnitt is the latest Sociology Professor at the University of Toronto to become a fellow at the Royal Society of Canada. The Royal Society is, according to its mandate,  “Canada’s National Academy, the senior collegium of distinguished scholars, artists and scientists in the country.” It seeks  to “promote learning and research in the arts, the humanities and the natural and social sciences.”  Professor Kruttchnitt is the Department’s third faculty member to become a fellow of the RSC, following Monica Boyd who also served as President of the RSC Social Sciences division, and Professor Robert Brym.

Earlier this year, U of T News wrote an article highlighting Professor Kruttschnitt’s achievement along with that of Professor George Dei at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education.

We have posted an excerpt of the article in U of T News which was originally posted on the U of T News site on September 7, 2017 written by Jennifer Robinson. The full article is available here.

…Sociology Professor Candace Kruttschnitt (pictured left) is also thrilled to be joining the 133-year-old society, which is made up of the senior collegium of distinguished scholars, artists and scientists in the country.

“It’s totally an honour and unexpected – completely,” she said with a laugh. “To be recognized for your work any time is wonderful.”

Since the 1990s, Kruttschnitt has studied the incarceration of women by speaking with hundreds of inmates in the United States, England and the Netherlands, with surprising results.

Contrary to common perceptions, the risk factors for a pathway to prison are comparable for men and women. For example, male and female inmates identified as multi-problem property offenders commonly had mental health issues, substance abuse problems, substantial debts and were unemployed.

Both sexes in the multi-problem violent offenders category also shared a history having parents with “parental deviance,” with drug and alcohol abuse and their own brushes with the law. The parents started committing crimes before the age of 18, had debt and also were substance abusers.

“This is a controversial subject because many scholars and policy-makers believe we need a gendered approach to programming in prisons,” Kruttschnitt said, adding that if she was facing imprisonment anywhere in the world the Netherlands “would be the place for me. They’re just wonderful. It’s the most advanced place I’ve ever seen” in their treatment of inmates…

Read the full article.


Professor Candace Kruttschnitt completes term as president of the American Society of Criminology

ckrutschnittCongratulations to Professor Candace Kruttschnitt on completing her term as president of The American Society of Criminology. I sat down and spoke with Professor Kruttschnitt about her experience and insights.

Professor Kruttschnitt has a long attachment to the ASC, having been a devoted member of the organization since receiving her doctorate in 1979. She has always been fascinated by the panels at ASC meetings and has enjoyed the tremendously collegial atmosphere at the meetings. The ASC includes academics, students and practitioners and seeks to “foster criminological scholarship, and to serve as a forum for the dissemination of criminological knowledge.” It speaks to a broad range of issues such as criminal justice policy, juvenile delinquency, and trends in crime statistics.

Professor Kruttschnitt herself is an expert in comparative prison research and women offenders. She has spent time in the United States, England, and the Netherlands studying prison systems and the conditions of confinement for women offenders. She now has a SSHRC grant investigating why it is that, while most offenders age out of crime, some persist.

Kruttschnitt thoroughly enjoyed her term as president. She served as president elect for one year and then served the following year as president. Much of the work was focused on the Annual Meeting. This involved overseeing the scheduling and staffing of the meeting, and organizing committees for awards. With this bird’s eye view of the field, she could see clearly the emerging trends in the field. Some of the biggest trends she sees in criminology scholarship include studies exploring the connection between neighbourhood spaces and crime, mass incarceration in the United States, policing, and issues of discretion based on race, ethnicity and stage of processing in sentencing outcomes.

The capstone of Kruttschnitt’s term was the Annual Meeting that took place in November 2015. Not only did she see her hard work pay off in a four-day event that went off without a hitch, she also presented her Presidential Address. Her address focused on “The Politics, and Place, of Gender in Research on Crime.” Here she drew attention to the need to make criminological theories more gender inclusive, the prominence of victimization in explanations of female offending, and the longstanding stereotypes that infuse work on women inmates. She concluded by suggesting ways in which scholars could help to move this field forward.

Professor Kruttschnitt is a Criminologist with a solid footing in Sociology. Or perhaps she’s a Sociologist with a solid footing in Criminology. She sees the connections between the two fields as integral. While the ASC includes criminologists from a variety of disciplines (e.g., psychology, political science, economics), Kruttschnitt was keen to point out the central role that Sociology has played in the history of Criminology and the continued importance of a sociological perspective on issues related to crime and punishment.

Alannah Vila is a 3rd year Sociology and Statistics student and is currently working at the Department of Sociology as a Work/Study student.