Faculty

Mary Brewster, Ph.D.

  • Professor of Criminal Justice
  • Chair, Department of Criminal Justice
  • Rutgers University, Ph.D. Criminal Justice
  • Fordham University, M.A. Sociology

Before joining the faculty of West Chester University, Dr. Brewster taught at Hartwick College, the State University of New York-Morrisville, and Kutztown University. She has taught in the graduate and undergraduate criminal justice programs since 1993, and served as the coordinator of the graduate criminal justice program at WCU for two decades.  Dr. Brewster has also served as a trainer for the National Organization for Victim Assistance (NOVA).

Dr. Brewster has authored several articles in journals such as Criminal Justice Policy Review, Journal of Criminal Justice Education, Journal of Drug Issues, Journal of Family Violence, Victims and Offenders, Violence and Victims, Prison Journal, and Women and Criminal Justice. Additionally, she has authored dozens of book reviews, research reviews, encyclopedia entries, and book chapters, and has been a contributing editor of Criminal Justice Research Review, associate editor of a criminal justice encyclopedia, editor of the book Stalking: Psychology, Risk Factors, Interventions, and Law, co-editor of two editions of Animal Cruelty: A Multidisciplinary Approach to Understanding, co-editor of Pennsylvania's Criminal Justice System, and a reviewer for several scholarly journals.

Dr. Brewster works with various community agencies, and has evaluated drug court, mental health court, alcohol prevention, community policing, and other programs in the region. She has served as Principal Investigator on a National Institute of Justice grant and has worked on numerous other grant-supported research projects. Her research interests include domestic violence and stalking, corrections, specialized courts, and drug and alcohol prevention.

Courses Taught: Research Methods, Criminological Theory, Victimology, Corrections, Proseminar

 

Christopher Przemieniecki, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Criminal Justice
Assistant Chair, Department of Criminal Justice
University of North Dakota, Ph.D.
Illinois State University, M.S.
Wright State University, B.A.

Chris Przemieniecki earned his Ph.D. from the University of North Dakota in 2012. Prior to arriving at West Chester University, he taught at Montgomery County Community College (MCCC) where he served as an Assistant Professor and advised the Criminal Justice Student Club.  While at MCCC, the Criminal Justice Club received numerous awards including ‘Club of the Year’ honors and Dr. Przemieniecki was awarded with ‘Advisor of the Year’ honors.  He has also taught at University of Minnesota-Crookston and other two- and four-year institutions in Ohio, Iowa, Minnesota and Tennessee.  In 2006, Dr. Przemieniecki received the Frederic M. Thrasher Award from the National Gang Crime Research Center (NGCRC) for “Superior Academic Research”.  He is a peer-review editor for the Journal of Gang Research and has published articles about gangs, the mass media and gangs, and social deviance.  He is a member of the American Society of Criminology and is a frequent speaker at law enforcement/gang conferences throughout the country.  His research interests include criminological theory, street gangs, crime and the media, juvenile justice, qualitative research, and ethics. Dr. Przemieniecki is the faculty advisor to the Criminal Justice Club (Sigma Tau Omicron).

Courses Taught: Introduction to Criminal Justice, Gangs in America, Criminological Theory, Crime and the Media, Ethics in Criminal Justice

Sami Abdel-Salam, Ph.D.

  • Associate Professor of Criminal Justice
    Department of Criminal Justice
  • Temple University, Ph.D. Criminal Justice

Before joining the Department of Criminal Justice at West Chester University, Dr. Abdel-Salam worked as a Senior Research Associate for the Center for Drug and Alcohol Studies at the University of Delaware.  At the Center, he was involved in a national research cooperative funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse to improve the implementation of evidence-based practices of substance abuse treatment in prison-based and community correctional settings.  From this research, he has worked directly with state correctional and community treatment agencies in efforts to improve the continuum of care received by offenders.  Additionally, Dr. Abdel-Salam has conducted research on adolescent substance abuse and treatment.  He has authored several articles in journals, such as Substance Use & Misuse, Journal of Drug Issues, Journal of Child and Adolescent Substance Abuse, and Journal of Substance Use and has presented his findings at national conferences, such as the American Society of Criminology, Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences, and the Academy and Health Conference on Correctional Health.  As well as conducting research, Dr. Abdel-Salam has spent the last 10 years teaching university students in subjects such as research methods, policing, and race and crime.  His research interests include  juvenile justice, drug and alcohol prevention, corrections, prisoner reentry, and community corrections.

Courses Taught:  Introduction to Criminal Justice, Drugs, Crime and Justice, Introduction to Comparative Justice Systems

Michael Antonio, Ph.D.

  • Associate Professor of Criminal Justice
  • Northeastern University, Ph.D. Law & Public Policy
  • Ursinus College, B.S. Psychology

From 2000 through 2005, Dr. Antonio served as the Lead Research Scientist at the Criminal Justice Research Center at Northeastern University in Boston. Since 2005, he has worked for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania as a Research and Evaluation Manager at Pennsylvania’s Department of Corrections and the Board of Probation and Parole.  Dr. Antonio has authored several articles in journals such as American Journal of Criminal Justice, Behavioral Sciences and the Law, Corrections Compendium, Criminal Justice Studies, Journal of Criminal Justice, and Prison Journal. In addition, Dr. Antonio has recently served as a peer reviewer for the U.S. Department of Justice-Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, Pennsylvania’s Commission on Crime and Delinquency, Criminal Justice Policy Review, and Criminal Justice & Behavior.  His research interests include capital punishment, corrections, juries, offender rehabilitation, and probation and parole. 

Course Taught:  Research Design & Analysis, Effective Correctional Interventions, Experiencing Peru: Examining the Criminal, Social, and Economic Impact of the Voices4Peru (V4P) Organization and Proseminar.

Michele P. Bratina, Ph.D.

  • Associate Professor of Criminal Justice
  • Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Ph.D. Criminology
  • University of Arkansas at Little Rock, M.A. Criminal Justice
  • Pennsylvania State University (Harrisburg), B.S. Applied Behavioral Science

Before entering academia, Dr. Bratina was the Forensic and Children's Mental Health Coordinator for the Florida Department of Children and Families in the 19th Judicial Circuit.  She is a Past-President of the Northeastern Association of Criminal Justice Sciences (NEACJS), and a three-time award recipient of the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences (ACJS)/SAGE Junior Faculty Professional Development Teaching Award.

In 2020, Dr. Bratina and several students co-founded the first NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) chapter at WCU. Currently, Dr. Bratina serves as the co-advisor, and she is the advisor for Nu Beta, the WCU Chapter of Alpha Phi Sigma—the national criminal justice honor society. As a certified Crisis Intervention Team Coordinator (CIT International), Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) instructor, and SAMHSA-certified trainer for How Being Trauma-Informed Improves Criminal Justice System Responses, Dr. Bratina endeavors to advance mental health awareness and advocacy in the criminal justice system, and in the community. She is co-author with James Fagin of CJ 2019 (Pearson), and the author of Forensic Mental Health: Framing Integrated Solutions (Routledge).  Dr. Bratina’s primary research concerns mental health and criminal justice. Her recent publications appeared in the Journal of Ethnicity in Criminal Justice, International Journal of Police Science and Management, Police Practice and Research, Abuse: An International Impact Journal, Salus: An International Journal of Law Enforcement & Public Safety, and the Journal of Correctional Health Care

Courses Taught:  Theories of Crime and Delinquency, Race, Ethnicity, Social Structure, and Crime, Forensic Mental Health, and Mental Health and the Criminal Justice System

Albert DiGiacomo, M.S.

  • Instructor of Criminal Justice
  • St. Joseph's University, M.S. Criminal Justice

Professor Albert DiGiacomo joined West Chester University’s Criminal Justice Department full time in 2009. Prior to his appointment at WCU, he had served 29 years in the Philadelphia Police Department before retiring at the rank of Captain. His command and executive level assignments included patrol, detective, internal affairs, quality assurance, and administration. In 1999, he was appointed as Chief of Detectives for Chester County, PA where he formed a computer forensic unit. After 9/11, he became the Chester County representative to the Anti-Terrorism Advisory Council in the Eastern District of PA. As a current consultant to the National Institute of Justice, Professor DiGiacomo reviews Department of Justice grant applications regarding forensic science projects. Additionally, he provides services as an expert consultant in matters of police liability and training. He is a graduate of the 186th Session of the FBI National Academy.

Courses Taught: Organized Crime, Violent Crime, White Collar Crime, Terrorism, Contemporary Issues in Law Enforcement

Shannon Grugan, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Criminal Justice
Rutgers University , Ph.D. Criminal Justice
West Chester University, M.S. Criminal Justice

From 2004 through 2014, Dr. Grugan served as a Senior Environmental Policy and Enforcement Consultant for the firm of Booz Allen Hamilton and worked with several government organizations and agencies, including the Environmental Protection Agency, the United States Army, and the Department of Health and Human Services. During her time there, she worked on a variety of investigative, enforcement, and educational/training issues. Dr. Grugan's research interests include animal cruelty, environmental crime, and issues of crime and criminal justice on college campuses. She has spoken about her research on these issues at several regional and national conferences and has published her research on these topics in journals such as Deviant Behavior, Society and Animals, and The Journal of Criminal Justice Education. Dr. Grugan has also authored several government reports, articles, and book chapters, with her work featured in The Encyclopedia of Criminology and Criminal Justice, Animal Cruelty: A Multidisciplinary Approach to Understanding, and Pennsylvania's Criminal Justice System. She is currently working on a book entitled Environmental Offending: The Realities of Environmental Harm and Environmental Crime, which is forthcoming.

Courses Taught: Theories of Crime and Delinquency, Criminological Theory, Introduction to the Criminal Justice System, Research Design and Analysis, Proseminar, Enviromental Crime and Opportunities, Situations and Crime

Brian O'Neill, Ph.D.

  • Associate Professor of Criminal Justice
  • City University of New York, Ph.D. Criminal Justice
  • Marywood College, M.S.W.

Dr. Brian O’Neill earned his Ph.D. in Criminal Justice from the City University of New York in 2001. He has been teaching for the past 25 years, and has been a professor at West Chester University since 1998. Previously, Dr. O’Neill earned his M.S.W. from Marywood College and was employed as a social worker for 10 years. His publications include research on minority overrepresentation in the juvenile justice system in detention and out-of-home placement and an historical case study on the insanity defense. O'Neil hosts a radio show/podcast "Justice Conversation", which can be listened to on this link. In addition, Dr. O’Neill wrote, narrated and produced, El Padre y Los Homies, a radio documentary about Father Greg Boyle, the founder of Homeboy Industries, a gang intervention program in Los Angeles. Dr. O’Neill has taught a number of Inside/Out courses to incarcerated individuals at Montgomery County Correctional Facility and at Chester State Correctional Institution. Dr. O’Neill is currently conducting research for a book on commutation of individuals who were originally sentenced to life in prison.  His research interests include  corrections, juvenile justice, and history of the criminal justice system.

Courses Taught: Juvenile Justice, Restorative Justice, Criminological Theory, Race, Ethnicity, and Criminal Justice

Jana Nestlerode, J.D.

  • Professor of Criminal Justice
  • Practicum Coordinator, Department of Criminal Justice
  • Widener University School of Law, J.D.
  • Pennsylvania State University, B.A.

Professor Nestlerode was in private law practice before joining the Delaware County District Attorney’s Office as a prosecutor in the trial division. She brings her years of experience in that position to her academic endeavors at WCU. She has authored articles and/or presented research papers on women’s issues, the Fourth Amendment, the exclusionary rule, election fraud, pharmaceutical battery, and hate crimes. She is the co-founder of the Chester County Coalition for Voting Integrity. She was nominated by West Chester University for U.S. Professor of the Year in 2012. Her research interests include Fourth Amendment and Ninth Amendment issues, election fraud, and pharmaceutical battery.

Courses Taught: Criminal Procedure, Contemporary Legal Issues, Notable Criminal Cases, Applied Legal Studies, Criminal Jurisprudence, Justice Studies

Cassandra Reyes, Ph.D.

  • Associate Professor of Criminal Justice
  • Assessment Coordinator
  • Indiana University of Pennsylvania, M.A. and Ph.D. Criminology

Dr. Reyes worked as a Probation Officer-Bilingual and a Senior Parole Officer-Bilingual for the State of New Jersey for approximately 10 years. In addition, she worked as a dispatcher for the Indiana University of Pennsylvania Police Department for 3½ years and as a Correctional Officer at the Indiana County Jail for a short time before coming to West Chester University of Pennsylvania in August 2009. Dr. Reyes co-edited Animal Cruelty: A Multidisciplinary Approach to Understanding with Dr. Mary Brewster. Additional publications include Of Fists and Fangs: An exploration of the degree to which the Graduate Hypothesis predicts future adolescent delinquency and aggression. Additionally, she has published an article in the Journal of Offender Rehabilitation and has written several entries for online encyclopedias.

Dr. Reyes has served as a manuscript reviewer for the American Journal of Criminal Justice, Criminal Justice Review, Criminology, Feminist Criminology, International Criminal Justice Reviews, The Prison Journal, and Violence Against Women, and as a manuscript reviewer for Sage Publications. She is also a member of the Editorial Committee for PASSHE’s Keystone Journal. Her research interests include animal cruelty, corrections, juvenile delinquency, theories of crime and delinquency, violence, and victimology.

Courses Taught: Theories of Crime and Delinquency, Animal Cruelty, and Corrections

Jane M. Tucker, Ph.D.

  • Associate Professor of Criminal Justice
  • Temple University, Ph.D. Criminal Justice
  • West Chester University, M.S. Criminal Justice

Dr. Tucker joined the West Chester University Criminal Justice Department in 2011. Prior to joining the faculty WCU, Dr. Tucker taught criminal justice courses at both Kutztown University and at Temple University. Her practical criminal justice experience includes several years in private security followed by approximately 14 years of service as a law enforcement officer in both municipal and university settings. The majority of those years were spent as a police officer with the Lower Merion Township Police Department in Pennsylvania, where she was trained in wide variety of specialty law enforcement topics and skills, including crime prevention, community policing, domestic violence, child abuse investigation, fatal traffic accident investigation, and hate crimes investigation. Additionally, Dr. Tucker served as a platoon investigator and a field training officer (FTO).

Dr. Tucker’s dissertation concerned the factors that influence officer willingness to use stress intervention services. She continues to be involved in research on police stress issues and serves on a Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM) team as a peer provider. Dr. Tucker has been published in the International Journal of Emergency Mental Health and Human Reslience, Victims and Offenders, and the Journal of Criminal Justice Education. Additionally, she has authored a number of encyclopedia entries and a book chapter, and has served as a reviewer for Sage Publications, the Journal of Criminal Justice, Police Quarterly, and the Journal of Police and Criminal Psychology. Her research interests are police stress, police organizational behavior, criminal justice policy, discretion, and victimization.

Dr. Tucker is currently a faculty advisor to the Criminal Justice Honor Society (Alpha Phi Sigma), Nu Beta Chapter and runs a group called TEAMfit. She has also served as both Practicum Coordinator and Graduate Coordinator for the Criminal Justice Department.

Courses Taught: Policing in America, Criminal Investigations, Forensic Science I, Sex Crimes and the Law, Decision-Making in the Criminal Justice System 

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