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University of Delaware Faculty

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  • Christy Visher Ph.D., Professor

    Director, Center for Drug and Health Studies
    University of Delaware
    CDHS - 257 East Main Street, Suite 110
    Newark, DE 19716


    Christy Visher is Professor of Sociology and Criminal Justice at the University of Delaware and Director of the Center for Drug and Health Studies – a research center affiliated with the Department focused on substance abuse, health risk behavior, health services, and health policy. Over the past three decades, her research has focused broadly on crime and justice topics, including prisoner reentry, crime prevention strategies, implementing evidence-based practices in the criminal justice system, incapacitation, and use of drug testing in the criminal justice system.  Dr. Visher designed and implemented the path-breaking longitudinal study of men and women released from prison, Returning Home: Understanding the Challenges of Prisoner Reentry. Her most recent funded research projects examine strategies to curtail substance abuse among probationers, health challenges facing probationers, and implementation approaches to improve evidence-based practices for assisting men and women with histories of substance abuse after release from prison.

    Research Interest

    ​ Criminal careers, prisoner reentry, substance abuse, communities and crime, health and justice, and implementation science. 

    Recent Research Projects

    Evaluating Delaware's I-ADAPT Program

    This project is evaluating the State of Delaware's program for assisting individuals in their return to the community from a period of incarceration through linking them to community programs and services (e.g., employment, housing, treatment). Survey, observational, administrative, and criminal justice data are being collected and analyzed. 

    Implementing a Culture of Heath among Delaware's Probation Population

    This pilot project will investigate the process and short-term impact of implementing a multiagency "Culture of Health" team in a probation agency using a Change Team approach to focus the efforts of multiple agencies to improve the alignment, collaboration and synergy of health and other social service delivery to this traditionally hard to reach and underserved population. The project will use a mixed-methods design including random assignment of probationers to the new services delivery approach.

    Evaluating a Drug Testing and Graduated Sanctions Program in Delaware: A Randomized Trial

    This two-year project implemented a randomized trial to monitor chronic drug offenders in the community through increased, regularly scheduled urinalysis testing, coupled with sanctions and referral to treatment for positive tests.  Enrolling a diverse population of male and female probationers, the Delaware Department of Probation and Parole randomly assigned eligible offenders to standard probation (n=300) or the enhanced condition (n=300). Those in the standard condition received the normal probationary requirements, including random urinalysis. Those in the enhanced condition received regularly scheduled urinalysis coupled with referral to treatment, if required, and a program of graduated sanctions. 

    Criminal Justice Drug Abuse Treatment Studies: Testing Implementation Strategies for Evidence- Based Practices with Drug-Involved Offenders

    The University of Delaware participated as part of a collaborative of nine Research Centers to examine why evidence-based practices for drug-involved offenders in correctional environments fail to be adopted and implemented. The project's principal focus was identifying the necessary conditions, at organizational levels and for individuals, for effective implementation of evidence-based practices involving offenders experiencing the transition between incarceration and community reentry and of linking criminal justice and public health agencies. Three large multi-site studies were conducted concerning offender assessment, implementation of medication-assisted treatment, and HIV testing and treatment.

    Prisoner Reentry Services:  What Works for Whom?

    This project examined existing data originally gathered for the evaluation of the Serious and Violent Offender Reentry Initiative to identify specific reentry services that are both effective and cost effective over a sustained period of time for various types of prisoners returning to the community.  The study utilized a dataset for 1697 adult men, 357 adult women, and 337 juvenile boys released from prison in 14 states from 2004 to 2005 that includes four waves of interviews and administrative criminal justice data.

    Race, Justice Policy Research Group



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  • Department of Sociology and Criminal Justice
  • University of Delaware
  • 18 Amstel Avenue, Newark DE 19716, USA
  • Sociology - 322 Smith Hall
  • Phone: 302-831-2581 Fax: 302-831-2607
  • Criminal Justice - 325 Smith Hall
  • Phone: 302-831-1236 Fax: 302-831-0688