Each month, the Office of Sponsored Programs will spotlight a different PI and their research. If you are interested in being featured in our next spotlight, please email  . Please be sure to provide us with an abstract (3-5 paragraphs) about your research, explanation of your recent project, the amount your project (s) were funded for, special events that you are hosting or coordinating, obstacles or challenges you faced during the application process, if applicable, and a photo of yourself .   

Image of spotlights

Dr. Jeff Mellow, Ph.D. Professor, Department of Criminal Justice Director, Criminal Justice MA Program

Dr. Jeff Mellow is a Professor in the Department of Criminal Justice at John Jay College.  His research interest spans both institutional and community corrections with a focus on correctional policy and practice, program evaluation, reentry of offenders, and critical incident analysis in corrections. He is co-P.I., with Mayra Nieves, Senior International Officer at John Jay College, of a U.S. Department of State, Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) funded project ($499,974.40) that combines technical assistance, training, and research to help reduce overcrowding in Salvadoran prisons.


Working with the US Embassy and the Penitentiary System in El Salvador since March 2017, team members Dr. Mellow, Drs. Debi Koetzle and Hung-En Sung, along with Mayra Nieves and John Jay doctoral student Lidia Vasquez, have become familiar with the laws, policies, and procedures in El Salvador needed to develop a multi-day training curricula on best practices for evaluation and assessment, which was delivered to criminological technical team (CTT) members in December 2017 and April 2018. The goal of the CTT are two-fold.  First, CTT members evaluate inmates to determine whether they qualify to be moved to lower security, and less crowded, facilities based on the length of sentence served and completed in-prison rehabilitative programs.  Second CTT members help to identify those who may be recommended for early release. Over 50 staff, including 36 newly hired team members, in El Salvador received the training. The CTT members help with day-to-day issues with collecting, reviewing and updating case file information and provide weekly updates to the research team allowing for an assessment of the implementation progress.

The project also included working with the penal judges who ultimately decide on each prisoner’s classification and/or early release. The penal judges attended a workshop led by Drs. Mellow and Koetzle on the project and evidence-based practices on how to reduce prison overcrowding. Dr. Mellow says, “this project allows our team to take what we have learned from years of providing research and TA to U.S. correctional agencies and now applying it in a Latin America context. We are really fortunate that John Jay’s International Office has developed such strong Latin American partnerships for us to be able to do this work and future correctional research in Latin America.”