James Olsen

Associate Professor of Criminology, The University of Auckland

Areas of Expertise

  • Psychological criminology (IQ and crime)
  • Crime and punishment in popular culture
  • Criminogenic risk and needs

Key Findings

  • Being White and female reduced the likelihood of a prison sentence. MORE
  • Being a non-citizen increased the likelihood of a prison sentence. MORE
  • Pretrial releases varied across judges and districts. MORE
  • Pretrial detention was associated with a greater chance of receiving a longer prison sentence. MORE
  • Probationers in the HOPE program had significantly better outcomes than probationers that were not part of the program. MORE
  • HOPE was attributed to 48% fewer days of inmate incarceration, 53% fewer revocations, 55% fewer new arrests, 61% fewer missed supervision appointments, and 72% fewer positive drug tests. MORE


James Oleson, Associate Professor of Criminology at the University of Auckland, is an expert in criminal justice reform, incarceration, corrections, courts, sentencing, community supervision, and prisons.

Oleson served as a 2004-2005 Supreme Court Fellow, receiving the Tom C. Clark Prize. He then served as Chief Counsel for the Criminal Law Policy Staff at the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, working alongside judges, representatives from the U.S. Sentencing Commission, the Federal Judicial Center, the Federal Defenders, the Department of Justice, and the Federal Bureau of Prisons. He consulted with congressional staff, analyzed and drafted legislation, and helped to draft national standards of federal probation and pretrial services.

He has been published in several journals, including Justice Quarterly, Crime & Delinquency, Criminal Justice Policy Review, and Criminology & Public Policy. His first monograph, Criminal Genius: A Portrait of High-IQ Offenders, was published in 2016.

Oleson earned his J.D. from the University of California, Berkeley, his MPhil and PhD in Criminology from the University of Cambridge, and his B.A. in Psychology and Anthropology from Saint Mary’s College of California.