L. Sue Williams, Project Director
Dr. L. Susan Williams is Professor of Sociology and Criminology at Kansas State University, specializing in crime, gender, and place-based research. Her research with juveniles in gangs began in 1988 while at Texas Tech University and continued at the Center for Life Course and Population Studies at Louisiana State University. Her work on adolescents in two contrasting communities culminated in her dissertation at the University of Connecticut, recognized as a landmark study of how place affects adolescent decisions.
Upon coming to K-State in 1997, Dr. Williams immediately began working with the Kansas Department of Corrections, producing studies on juveniles, prisons, and justice system processes; together with colleagues, she collected the first systematic data on justice-involved juveniles in the state of Kansas. Following, in her work with Dr. Delores Craig-Moreland and OJJDP funding, she interviewed 70 incarcerated juveniles in Kansas, resulting in multiple national reports and state initiatives. She just completed a seven-year project in Kansas prisons. Dr. Williams’ work also has involved serving as consultant to the Juvenile Justice Authority of Kansas from 2000 to 2008, as well as participating in Disproportionate Minority Contact initiatives from 2008 to 2010. Dr. Williams continues to participate in annual evaluations of juvenile justice grant proposals.
Dr. Williams’ research has resulted in dozens of publications. Notable among them are studies on rural and urban youth (with the William T. Grant Foundation), juvenile justice reintegration (OJJDP), school violence (funded by Kansas Health Foundation), and methamphetamine in rural Kansas (National Science Foundation). Widely regarded as an expert in multi-method research, Dr. Williams regularly engages in primary data collection and multi-level analysis, resulting in studies of community interests such as procedural justice, inequality, and prison climate and environmental cohesion. She mentors and directs a number of PhD students in primary research; the most recent involved assessing Kansas communities for coercive sexualized environments (CSEs), comparing urban with rural/frontier locations, and resulting effects on involvement of girls in the justice system. Dr. Williams is active in regional and national professional organizations, holding several national positions of leadership. Her work has been recognized widely, receiving state, national, and international recognition.