sealPurdue News

May 10, 1996

The penalty for crime most severe on twenty-somethings

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- A Purdue University researcher's study of age differences in the sentencing of convicted criminals shows that offenders between the ages of 21 and 27 receive the stiffest penalties, those age 60 and older the most lenient.

"Persons age 60 and older receive sentences that average almost 10 months shorter than do persons in their 20s," says Jeffery T. Ulmer, assistant professor of sociology. "The results were similar whether you were looking at violent crimes or lesser property offenses." The age differences persist even when comparing offenders with the same offenses and prior records.

Ulmer and two researchers from Pennsylvania State University, Darrell Steffensmeier and John Kramer, analyzed the sentences handed down in Pennsylvania on 120,300 cases that occurred between 1989 to 1992.

The cases covered 15 different offenses, and crimes with very few older defendants -- such as those involving terrorist threats -- were excluded. "We feel that the results are particularly telling, given the fact that we studied cases in a state where sentencing guidelines were enacted in 1982 to standardize the sentences offenders receive," Ulmer says.

He says the data show that those in their 20s also are more likely to be imprisoned for their crimes than older offenders. "The odds that someone age 20 to 29 would be sentenced to prison were nearly three times as great as they were for a person age 60 or older," he says.

Ulmer says that after age 27, the severity of sentences handed down declines gradually until about age 50, when it starts to drop off dramatically.

"Judges say the risks to the community -- and to the judge's reputation and career -- are much greater when younger offenders are released back into society," Ulmer says. "Judges also tend to perceive that 'doing time' is harder on older offenders."

Ulmer says competition for scarce funds also may affect the sentencing of older offenders. "Jailing older persons can be financially costly and more burdensome for correctional personnel, given that the elderly are more prone to physical and mental health problems," he says.

The study findings were reported last fall in Justice Quarterly, the journal of the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences.

CONTACT: Ulmer, (765) 496-2226; home: (765) 449-9817; Internet:

Purdue initiatives focus on teaching undergraduates

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- Purdue is recognized as a leading North American research university. But the university also prides itself on emphasizing and rewarding undergraduate teaching.

For example, Purdue recently named three faculty members to distinguished professorships primarily because of their marks as classroom teachers. They're the first distinguished professorships Purdue has created to recognize faculty primarily for their teaching abilities. Typically, distinguished professorships are based on a combination of teaching and scholarship, but traditionally scholarship -- or research -- has received more weight at virtually all universities.

"These three professors represent 'the best on the Purdue campus,' and the university is making it a priority to recognize exemplary teaching," says Robert L. Ringel, executive vice president for academic affairs. "The faculty members demonstrate the essential relationship between working at the cutting edge of one's discipline and the commitment to share knowledge with students."

Another example of the emphasis the university places on teaching appears in its Excellence 21 initiative. About one-fifth of the proposed Excellence 21 projects are devoted to undergraduate teaching. Excellence 21, based on the Total Quality Improvement concept developed by Motorola, is a comprehensive program designed to build quality improvements among all departments and areas of the university.

The Excellence 21 initiatives include a School of Science proposal to improve retention of minority students through a summer program to help them make the adjustment from high school to college, and a School of Management proposal to enhance the writing skills and business communications skills of undergraduates.

Purdue also emphasizes undergraduate teaching with:

CONTACTS: Ringel, (765) 494-9709; home, (765) 463-1496
George Van Scoyoc, associate executive vice president for academic affairs, (765) 494-0608; home, (765) 743-3141; Internet,

Arab delegation will tour Purdue

NOTE TO JOURNALISTS: Members of the delegation will be available to the news media from 10:15 a.m. to 11 a.m. Wednesday (5/15) in Room 101 of Young Graduate House. For more information, call Ellen Rantz, Purdue News Service, (765) 494-2096.

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- A delegation of university presidents or their representatives from the Middle East will visit Purdue University Monday through Wednesday (5/13-15) as part of an international program involving several Arab universities and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

The program, the UNITWIN-Network, is a cooperative effort among Purdue, UNESCO and Middle Eastern universities to use information technologies to improve science and engineering education in seven Arab states' universities. The program's objectives include developing faculty who can apply modern educational technology and theory to improve education, and designing innovative, instructional programs in biological sciences at both the Middle Eastern universities and Purdue.

The eight-member delegation includes administrators from six Middle Eastern universities and one UNESCO delegate. The agenda includes a tour of campus on the Boilermaker Special; meetings with Robert L. Ringel, executive vice president for academic affairs, and Luis M. Proenza, vice president for research and dean of the Graduate School; and meetings with academic deans and various faculty members who have an interest in the Middle East. Also included will be tours of the schools of veterinary medicine, agriculture and science, and an Internet presentation by Purdue Libraries.

The delegation includes:

Eight finish training as rural safety leaders

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- Eight new volunteers have completed training as "Master Safety Leaders" in the Purdue University Rural Indiana Safer Kids (RISK) Project. They -- and the 10 leaders trained in the first class last year -- will conduct safety education and injury prevention activities in their communities.

The 1996 RISK Project Master Safety Leader team members are: Mary Joice, Vincennes ; Ann Luers, Batesville ; Les Marckel, Decatur ; Amy Nierman, Brownstown ; Lisa Paxton, Silver Lake ; Chris Salkeld, Lexington ; Buck Waddell, Brownsburg ; and Steve Wettschurack, Otterbein .

The group includes rural firefighters, emergency medical technicians, FFA students, an agricultural science teacher, a Purdue Cooperative Extension Service educator, and a Red Cross instructor. The class members were initiated at a Purdue conference on rural child safety April 26-27. The conference was sponsored in part by the Indiana Soybean Development Council.

Scott Whitman, RISK Project coordinator, said an estimated 25 percent of the 800 to 1,000 agricultural work-related fatalities in the United States each year involve children. He said agriculture is the most dangerous industry in the nation, with a 1994 death rate of 26 workers per 100,000 -- more than six times the average of all industries combined. Because of the nature of the industry, many children are exposed to hazards in the agricultural workplace.

"Tragically, many children are killed on farms and ranches every year," he said. "We've counted 13 cases in which Indiana children lost their lives on farms over the last two years, and we know of at least one child fatality so far in 1996."

The Master Safety Leaders have been recruited and trained to help reduce these numbers in Indiana. Whitman said the leaders will serve as community ambassadors for rural and farm safety and will assist Purdue's Agricultural Safety and Health Program staff in delivering child safety programs throughout Indiana.

He said RISK Master Safety Leaders already are involved in planning rural child safety camps and workshops for Benton , DeKalb and Ripley counties in August and Howard/Grant and Kosciusko/Fulton counties in September.

For more information about these programs, the RISK Master Safety Leader Program, or the RISK Project, contact Whitman at Purdue's Agricultural Safety and Health Program, (765) 494-5013.

RISK, a cooperative effort of the Agricultural Safety and Health Program at Purdue and the Indiana Department of Health, was initiated in 1990 to bolster Purdue's ongoing efforts to reduce injuries and fatalities among Indiana's rural and farm children.

Students plan to go Dutch to study customer service

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- Seventeen Purdue University students are traveling to the Netherlands May 14-29 to study the multicultural aspects of customer service in Europe.

"CSR 390A -- Holland: Multicultural Aspects of Customer Service" is a two-week course that gives the students an opportunity to visit 12 European companies such as Heineken, Philips and Siemens to see how they operate and use customer service to differentiate their individual products.

The course is sponsored by Educational Travel Programs in Purdue's Continuing Education Administration and the Department of Consumer Sciences and Retailing.

"This is an excellent opportunity for students to explore Holland and get an inside look at how internationally recognized companies structure their customer service efforts," said Jon Anton, researcher in Purdue's Center for Customer-Driven Quality and instructor for the course. "It's one thing to sit in a classroom and talk about the customer service initiatives of global companies, but it's something altogether different to go out and experience it firsthand."

The group of three administrators, 17 students and two student interns will board a bus Wednesday (5/14) and head for Chicago for a flight to Brussels. The interns, Karin de Bie and Renee ten Have, are seniors at the University of Limburg in Maastricht, and were interning in the Center for Customer-Driven Quality at Purdue. They will be tour guides for Maastricht and other historic sites.

The Center for Customer-Driven Quality serves as a training center for customer service representatives and call-center managers; conducts research for companies interested in developing practical and cost-effective customer satisfaction strategies; and performs tasks that would be expensive for companies to do in-house, such as processing customer data, measuring customer satisfaction and screening applicants for customer service representative positions.


Compiled by: Ellen Rantz, (765) 494-2073; Internet,

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