Cassia Spohn

Professor of Criminology and Criminal Justice, Arizona State University

Areas of Expertise

  • Prosecution
  • Sentencing
  • Race, ethnicity and gender
  • Sexual assault
  • Drug offenders
  • Criminal records

Key Findings

  • Of the sexual assault cases studied from the Los Angeles Police Department, 4.5% appeared to be false reports. MORE
  • Complaint recantation was the strongest predictor. MORE
  • Use of drugs at the time of the crime is directly linked to longer sentences. MORE
  • Use of drugs at the time of the crime increases the possibility of pretrial detention, which is also linked to longer sentences. MORE
  • Judges and prosecutors contribute to disparity in sentencing lengths. MORE
  • Between judges, sentencing could vary by as much as 6.5 months. MORE
  • Long-term criminal justice reforms should focus on restructuring regulations for police union contracts to ensure accountability and changing police culture to prioritize the protection of civilians. MORE


Cassia Spohn, Professor of Criminology and Criminal Justice at Arizona State University, is an expert in the effects of race, ethnicity and gender on sentencing decisions, sentencing of drug offenders, case processing decisions in sexual assault and the effect of a criminal record on employment prospects.

Spohn is the Director of the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice at ASU. Her work has been supported by the National Science Foundation, the National Institute of Justice and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and was cited by the U.S. Supreme Court in the landmark case, McCleskey v. Kemp. She has received several honors and awards and is the 2013 recipient of the ASU Faculty Achievement Award for Defining Edge Research in Social Sciences.

She has been published in numerous scholarly journals and is the author of How Do Judges Decide? The Search for Fairness and Justice in Punishment and Policing and Prosecuting Sexual Assault: Inside the Criminal Justice System.

Spohn received her Ph.D., M.A. and B.A. in Political Science from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.