The Robina Institute has appointed Professor Julian Roberts of the University of Oxford as co-director of the Institute’s Criminal History Enhancements Project, beginning January 2014. This project is an activity of the Institute’s Sentencing Law and Policy program area and will explore the ways in which American sentencing guidelines systems employ penalty enhancements based on the offender’s record of prior convictions. The project will also examine the impact such enhancements have on incarceration rates; on the composition of prison populations in terms of race and ethnicity, conviction offenses, and risk levels of inmates; and on the offense-proportionality of sentences imposed and served. Working with several participant states, the project will study these issues in depth and explore prospects for reform.
Roberts has a doctorate in experimental psychology from the University of Toronto. He taught for many years at the University of Ottawa before moving to Oxford in 2005, and he has also been a visiting professor at King’s College London, the University of Cambridge, the University of Toronto, and universities in Israel and Belgium. He was a researcher on the Canadian Sentencing Commission from 1984 to 1988, and since 2010 he has been a member of the Sentencing Council of England and Wales.
Roberts has conducted empirical research on many aspects of sentencing for the past 30 years. He has studied and published research on sentencing in Canada, the United States, England and Wales, Israel, New Zealand, India, and South Africa, among other jurisdictions. A particular focus of his research has been the role that criminal history plays at sentencing, both in the United States and other jurisdictions, particularly under state and federal sentencing guidelines.