April 23, 2014

National Science Foundation Winner

Nikoleta Despodova

By Navita Nauth

Staff Writer

When she opened the email, she couldn’t believe it. Screaming from excitement, she had to double check. Nikoleta Despodova stared at the congratulatory email that stated she had received $126,000 from the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship.

Despodova is currently a John Jay graduate student continuing her research on whether or not a defendant’s sexual orientation influences a juror’s judgment of his/her state of mind.

An immigrant from Bulgaria, Despodova moved to the United States in 2009 without any family or friend for support. As a child, Despodova was always interested in diversity and studying other cultures.

“In Bulgaria, you cannot learn anything about other cultures. Everyone’s basically the same,” she said.

Despodova’s family suspected that she would not remain in the States for an extended period of time and would eventually return.

America was also not what she expected. “That’s one of the stereotypes that immigrants expect: streets to be paved with gold, but that’s not the case. Things are much harder than we expect,” Despodova said.

To make ends meet, Despodova worked as a waitress in hotels. After her first year in the country, she wanted to pursue her bachelor’s degree. “Education is important and in this competitive world you need education,” Despodova said.

After research and searching, she attended an open house meeting at John Jay College and decided she would study here.

During her studies, she met Mark Fondacaro, Professor of Psychology. It was from Fondacaro’s research that Despodova derived her own research study.

Despodova worked for more than a year on her research with little supervision from Fondacaro. She collected data, recruited subjects and wrote a comprehensive literature review. Although she comes off as very serious, Despodova likes to watch Asian horror movies in her free time.

She proposed an independent response project to extend Fondacaro’s research that questioned if a defendant’s sexual orientation affects a juror’s judgment.

“Nikoleta was involved in multiple research projects with multiple mentors, which gave her a breath of experience and research related skills. She was very responsive to the guidance and feedback that I gave her. She would read all the articles she was asked to and looked for more,” Fondacaro said.

As a result of her hard work, Despodova applied for the fellowship and is now here at John Jay to advance her studies and to work towards her goal of studying psychology.

“She was very poised, motivated and focused in her research interest. Overall, Nikoleta is a highly motivated, intelligent young woman who is determined to succeed,” Fondacaro said.

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Westport Fight Leads to Stabbing

By Benjamin Passikoff

Ahmed Jaradat contributing reporting.

At 11:10 A.M. today as John Jay College students prepared for a 3rd period research class in room 107 of Westport, a student attacked another with an 8-inch serrated bread knife.

“There was an incident,” risk management and ethics manager Ryan Eustace said. “One student was arrested. One student went to the hospital.”

The altercation occurred before the professor had arrived for class.

It is not clear how long the fight lasted, but the assailant was taken into custody by NYPD officers and the wounded student was taken to St. Luke’s Hospital across from Harren Hall.

Toppled chairs in Westport 107 after students rushed out and down the stairs away from the fight. By 12:15 P.M. the door to 107 was locked.

 

Professor Maria Volpe, a professor of sociology at John Jay, was on her way to meet Kate Szur, who is senior director of Student Academic Success Programs.

“I was twenty minutes early to my meeting,” Professor Volpe said. “There were all these students rushing out of the building.”

According to Professor Volpe, one of Szur’s student peer leaders had taken control of the security desk, as the Public Safety officer had chased after the assailant towards 10th Avenue.

“I heard some skirmish,” Szur said. “I was on my email, trying to finish my work. We came down to ask security what happened.”

Stephanie Zomer, a John Jay Health Services employee and member of Student Academic Success Programs, whose offices are in Westport, was one of the first responders to scene.

“The students came screaming out of their classroom saying that a student was just stabbed,” Zomer said.

Zomer ran down the stairs, out of the building, and towards 10th Avenue. As she reached the corner of 56th Street, she saw Public Safety had subdued the assailant on the corner of 55th Street and 10th Avenue.

“By the time I got there, security was holding him down, and people from the streets were holding him down, and the guy that actually got stabbed was holding him down,” Zomer said. “So I got the guy that was bleeding all over the place-I took my shirt off right away and I wrapped it around [his wrist].”

The Counseling department provided with fresh John Jay work out apparel as a replacement for her bloody clothes.

“He had a really deep laceration on his wrist, and his bone was out,” Zomer said. “I was trying to put as much pressure on it as possible. I just had blood all over me from trying to get it to stop bleeding, but it just wouldn’t….”

Blood drops on 55th Street and 10th Avenue.

 

The two students were in the same class, but, according to Zomar, the victim did not even know his assailant, or why his assailant attacked him.

Professor Volpe and Szur remained on the scene with Zomer and waited as a public safety officer took her statement in a back conference room of Westport.

Dean of students Kenneth Holmes was proud of the speedy rate of response. He was involved in a behavioral intervention meeting with members of his office, Public Safety, and college council, when he heard the news.

“When we heard about the situation, the assistant director for security went to initially take care of the situation, then counciling went, then I went,” Holmes said. “It was the ninth response from the college community in hearing about it, and getting the information to all of the different ears of the university that needed to respond.”

According to a letter from President Travis, the student who was cut did not sustain a life threatening wound. It is expected that St. Luke’s will release him today after treating his injury.

NewsFeed: Trying To Find Houses For The Formely Incarcerated

Police handcuffs

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Even out of prison people with a criminal background still cannot seem to get a break. For the formerly incarcerated finding a home can be difficult especially when landlords can choose to bar such individuals. A toolkit or guide was developed by Fortune Society and John Jay College Criminal Justice to help people with a criminal past to find education and housing.  National Reentry Resource Center presents a webinar that reviews the toolkit as well as other findings to aid people with criminal histories.

Sources- National Reentry Resource Center

NewsFeed: The Crime Report Developed A Top Ten List for Criminal Justices Stories of 2011

crime reporting

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The Crime Report, published by the Center on Media, Crime and Justice at John Jay College of Criminal Justice,with the help of contributors and bloggers complied a list of top ten Criminal Justice stories of 2011. The stories were according to The Crime Report to be significant and interesting in terms of Criminal Justice. Topics on the list include changes in corrections, re-evaluating the reliability of eyewitnesses identification, and redefining what rape is.

Source- The Crime Report

NewsFeed: Murder Is Down, But Why?

English: A federal agent making an arrest duri...

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This year alone New York City has experienced its third lowest homicide rates of 502. The lowest being in 2009 of 471 and the second being in 2007 of 499. The decline in homicide is also more significant or sharper in the city than anywhere else in the nation. Mayor Bloomberg attributes the decrease to the work of police and fire departments but experts are not too sure about that. Experts such as Andrew Karmen, sociology professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, attributes the decline to the current lifestyle of young adults. Karmen believes because young adults from ages 18 to 24 are attending colleges,  they are less likely be murdered then young adults that do not attend college.

Murder Mystery

The Long Island serial killings of women prostitutes have become a mystery even being called “the Gilgo Beach Murder mystery.” Many experts believe that there are multiple killers due to the number of victims, the different methods used in disposing the body, and the number of years that separate the murders. Louis B. Schlesinger, Professor of Forensic Psychology at John Jay College of Criminal Justice believes there is only one serial killer. Despite the number of victims and the gap in years between the first murder and the last, 15 years, he still believes there is one murderer. In response to the reason why the victims were dismembered in the past but are no longer, Schlesinger  explains that

English: Knife Fox Italiano: Coltello Fox

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the killer must have just realized that it was too much work and decided to switch up his methods.

Unable To Accept Freedom

The only "protective custody" availa...

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After spending 26 years locked up in jail for fatally stabbing a man, Randall Lee Church finds himself back in after he burns down a house. He was 18 years old when he was first incarcerated in the year 1983; before Facebook and before smartphones. When he was released at age 46 he was unable to adjust to the world he knew in 1983. The frustration boiled to a point when he commits arson in retaliation. Church is a prime example of the prison re-entry our nation, prisoners unable to cope and wanting a way out end up back in prison. Executive Director of Prisoner of John Jay College of Criminal Justice Ann Jacobs further explains the recidivism dilemma.

Read more articles like it at Chron.com

Two John Jay Students win the Elbert Stillwaggon Memorial Scholarship

John Jay College of Criminal Justice

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Two John Jay Students win scholarships in Fire Science major:

New York, NY, September 16, 2011The John Jay Foundation today announced that John Jay College of Criminal Justice sophomore Mateusz Grebowiec, age 20, and junior Ken Zeng, age 22 were awarded the Elbert Stillwaggon Memorial Scholarships. Sponsored by the New York Propane Gas Association (NYPGA), these scholarships of $3,000 annually are awarded to two full-time students in the College’s Fire Science Program. ”