David Kirk

Professor of Sociology, Director of Research, Professorial Fellow of Nuffield College

Degree: Ph.D., M.A., University of Chicago; B.A. Vanderbilt University

College: Nuffield

Research Areas: Life Course, Criminology, Quantitative Methods, Experimental Methods.

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Email: David Kirk

Tel.: +44 1865 278599


Dave joined the Department of Sociology and Nuffield College at the University of Oxford in 2015. He is the Director of Research for the Department of Sociology, and a member of the Steering Committee. At Nuffield, Dave serves as the Equality and Diversity Fellow, and is the Director of a new graduate access initiative launched in 2019 called the Nuffield Undergraduate Scholars Institute. He is also a faculty affiliate of the Oxford QStep Centre, and the director of the Centre for Social Investigation. Dave received his Ph.D. in sociology from the University of Chicago.

Dave's research agenda is primarily organized around three inter-related themes: the causes and consequences of police misconduct, solutions to criminal recidivism, and the causes and consequences of gun violence. His new book, Home Free (Oxford University Press 2020), traces the effect of residential displacement among the formerly incarcerated in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Another project, called the Maryland Opportunities through Vouchers Experiment (MOVE), involves an experimental housing mobility program for ex-prisoners. Dave's research has appeared in American Journal of Sociology, American Sociological Review, Criminology, and The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

JUST RELEASED: Home Free: Prisoner Reentry and Residential Change after Hurricane Katrina (Oxford University Press)

Sneak Preview of Home Free

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Hurricane Katrina: A Natural Experiment on the Effect of Residential Change

One of the potential challenges of attempting to reintegrate ex-prisoners back into society is that most individuals leaving prison return to the same general areas where they resided prior to incarceration, with the same criminal peer networks and criminal opportunities that contributed to their criminality in the first place. My research asks: what would happen to an ex-prisoner’s likelihood of recidivism if he or she did not return home to his or her former neighborhood? I have developed initial answers to this question in several publications, utilizing Hurricane Katrina as a natural experiment to examine the implications of residential change for the life course of crime among parolees in Louisiana. The culmination of the project is my 2020 book Home Free, which presents new evidence about the effects of residential change, gathered through qualitative interviews with former prisoners as well as a quantitative analysis of recidivism through eight years post-incarceration.

Kirk, David S. 2020. Home Free: Prisoner Reentry and Residential Change after Hurricane Katrina. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Kirk, David S. 2019. “The Association Between Residential Relocation and Reincarceration among Drug Dependent Former Prisoners.Addiction 114(8): 1389-1395.

Kirk, David S. 2015. “A Natural Experiment of the Consequences of Concentrating Former Prisoners in the Same Neighborhoods.Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 112(22): 6943-6948.

Kirk, David S. 2012. “Residential Change as a Turning Point in the Life Course of Crime: Desistance or Temporary Cessation?Criminology 50(2): 329-58.

Kirk, David S. 2009. “A Natural Experiment on Residential Change and Recidivism: Lessons from Hurricane Katrina.American Sociological Review 74(3): 484-505. 


The Maryland Opportunities through Vouchers Experiment (MOVE)

Through a randomized controlled trial, this study examines the effect, among recently released prisoners, of residential relocation far away from former neighbourhoods that is made possible by greater access to housing assistance. In collaboration with the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services, this project randomly assigns voluntary parolee participants to treatment groups that are distinguished by the location of a housing subsidy.

Kirk, David S., Geoffrey C. Barnes, Jordan M. Hyatt, and Brook W. Kearley. 2018. “The Impact of Residential Change and Housing Stability on Recidivism: Pilot Results from the Maryland Opportunities through Vouchers Experiment (MOVE).Journal of Experimental Criminology 14: 213-226.


Legal Cynicism and Reactions to Police Behaviour

In a series of articles with Andrew Papachristos and several other co-authors, I examine the effect of neighbourhood culture, particularly negative views of the law, on crime rates. Cynicism of the law is not only correlated with an increase in neighbourhood crime, it also undermines public cooperation with the police and, therefore, the capacity of the police to solve crimes.

Desmond, Matthew S., Andrew V. Paparchristos, and David S. Kirk. 2016. "Police Violence and Citizen Crime Reporting in the Black Community." American Sociological Review 81: 857-876.

Kirk, David S. 2016. "Prisoner Reentry and the Reproduction of Legal Cynicism." Social Problems 63: 222-243.

Kirk, David S., Andrew V. Papachristos, Jeffrey Fagan, and Tom R. Tyler. 2012. “The Paradox of Law Enforcement in Immigrant Communities: Does Tough Immigration Enforcement Undermine Public Safety?The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 641: 79-98.

Kirk, David S., and Mauri Matsuda. 2011. “Legal Cynicism, Collective Efficacy, and the Ecology of Arrest.Criminology 49(2): 443-472.

Kirk, David S., and Andrew V. Papachristos. 2011. “Cultural Mechanisms and the Persistence of Neighborhood Violence.American Journal of Sociology 116(4): 1190-1233.


Collateral Consequences of Punishment

Kirk, David S., and Sara Wakefield. 2018. "Collateral Consequences of Punishment: A Critical Review and Path Forward." Annual Review of Criminology 1: 171-194. 

Liberman, Akiva, David S. Kirk, and KiDeuk Kim. 2014. "Labeling Effects of First Juvenile Arrests: Secondary Deviance and Secondary Sanctioning." Criminology 52(3): 345-370.

Kirk, David S., and Robert J. Sampson. 2013. "Juvenile Arrest and Collateral Educational Damage in the Transition to Adulthood." Sociology of Education 86(1): 36-62.


Uber, the Digital Economy, and Public Safety

Kirk, David S., Nicolo Cavalli, and Noli Brazil. 2020. "The Implications of Ridehailing for Risky Driving and Road Accident Injuries and Fatalities." Social Science & Medicine 250.

Brazil, Noli, and David S. Kirk. 2016. "Uber and Metropolitan Traffic Fatalities in the United States." American Journal of Epidemiology 184(3): 192-198.