Faculty Details

Photo of Alfred  Blumstein

Alfred Blumstein

J. Erik Jonsson University Professor of Urban Systems and Operations Research; Former Dean of the Heinz School

Full-time Faculty

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Email: ab0q@andrew.cmu.edu



Professor Blumstein's research over the past twenty years has covered many aspects of criminal justice phenomena and policy, including crime measurement, criminal careers, sentencing, deterrence and incapacitation, prison populations, flow through the system, demographic trends, juvenile violence and drug-enforcement policy. He was also director of the National Consortium on Violence Research (NCOVR), a multi-university initiative funded by the National Science Foundation and headquartered at the Heinz College.


Key Issues in Criminal Career Research (with Alex R. Piquero and David P. Farrington) (2007) Cambridge University Press

The Crime Drop in America (2000) (with Joel Wallman, eds.) Cambridge University Press

Criminal Careers and "Career Criminals" (1986) with J. Cohen, J. Roth, and C.A. Visher (eds.), Report of the National Academy of Sciences Panel on Research on Criminal Careers; Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press.

Research on Sentencing: The Search for Reform (2 volumes) (1983) with Jacqueline Cohen, Susan Martin, and Michael Tonry (eds.), Report of the NAS Panel on Research on Sentencing, National Academy Press, Washington, D.C.

Deterrence and Incapacitation: Estimating the Effects of Criminal Sanctions on Crime Rates, Report of the Panel of Deterrence and Incapacitation, (1978), Alfred Blumstein, Jacqueline Cohen and Daniel Nagin, eds, National Academy of Sciences, Washington, D.C.


“Linking the Crime and Arrest Process to Measure Individual Crime Rates: Variations in Individual Arrest Risk per Crime (Q)” (2010) (with Jacqueline Cohen, Alex Piquero, and Christy Visher). Journal of Quantitative Criminology, vol. 26, no.4, pp.533-548

“Redemption in the Presence of Widespread Criminal Background Checks” (2009) (with Kiminori Nakamura), Criminology 47(2): 327-359

“The Roots of Punitiveness in a Democracy” (2007), J. of Scandinavian Studies in Criminology and Crime Prevention, vol. 8, pp. 2-16

“An OR Missionary’s Visits to the Criminal Justice System” (2007) Operations Research, vol. 55,  pp.1-10

“Reentry as a Transient State between Liberty and Recommitment” (with Allen J. Beck) in Prisoner Reentry and Crime in America (2005) (Jeremy Travis, Christy Visher, eds.). pp 50-79. Cambridge University Press

 “The Notorious 100:1 Crack- Powder Disparity – The Data Tell Us that It is Time to Restore the Balance” (2003) Federal Sentencing Reporter, vol 16, #1, pp, 87-92.

 “Crime Modeling” (2002), Operations Research, vol. 50, #1, pp. 16-24.

 “Violence: A New Frontier for Scientific Research” (2000) Science, vol. 289, pp 545.

"Criminal Violence of NFL Players Compared to the General Population" (1999), with Jeff Benedict, Chance, vol. 12, no. 3, pp. 1-4

"Population Growth in U.S. Prisons. 1980-1996" (1999), with Allen J. Beck, in Crime and Justice: A Review of Research, vol. 26

"U.S. Criminal Justice Conundrum: Rising Prison Populations and Stable Crime Rates" (1997) Crime & Delinquency Vol. 44, #1, pp 127-135.

"Linking Gun Availability to Youth Gun Violence" (1997) Law and Contemporary Problems with Daniel Cork Vol. 59, #1, pp 5-24.

"Relationship Between the Offending Frequency (λ) of Imprisoned and Free Offenders" (1997), with Josè A. Canela-Cacho and Jacqueline Cohen, Criminology, Vol. 35, No. 1, pp 133-175.

"Youth Violence, Guns, and the Illicit-Drug Industry" (1995) Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology Vol. 86, No. 4, pp. 10-36.

"Filtered Sampling from Populations with Heterogeneous Event Frequencies" (1993), with Josè Canela-Cacho and Jacqueline Cohen, Management Science, Vol. 39, No.7, pp. 886-899.

"Making Rationality Relevant - The American Society of Criminology Presidential Address" (1993), Criminology, Vol. 31, No. 1, pp. 1-16.

"Characterizing Criminal Careers" (1987) with Jacqueline Cohen, in Science, Vol. 238 (No. 4818), pp. 985-991.

"Probabilistic Models of Youthful Criminal Careers" (1987) with Arnold Barnett and David Farrington, in Criminology Vol. 25, pp. 83-107.

"On the Racial Disproportionality of U.S. Prison Populations" (1982) Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology, Vol. 73, No. 3.

"Prevalence and Recidivism in Index Arrests: A Feedback Model Approach" (1982) with Elizabeth Graddy, Law and Society Review, Vol. 16, No. 2.

"Demographically Disaggregated Projections of Prison Populations" (1980) with Jacqueline Cohen and Harold Miller, Journal of Criminal Justice, Vol. 8, No. 1, Jan.- Feb., pp. 1-25.

"Estimation of Individual Crime Rates from Arrest Records" (1979) with Jacqueline Cohen, Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology, Vol. 70, no. 4, pp. 561-585.

Professional Experience

Before joining the Heinz School in 1969, Professor Blumstein was at the Institute for Defense Analyses, where he was Director of the Office of Urban Research and a member of the Research Council. In the mid-'60s, he was Director of the Science and Technology Task Force for the President's Commission on Law Enforcement and Administration of Justice, Washington, D.C.

Prof. Blumstein was a member of the National Academy of Sciences Committee on Research on Law Enforcement and the Administration of Justice from its founding in 1975 until 1986. He served as chairman of that committee between 1979 and 1984, and also has chaired the committee's panels on Research on Deterrent and Incapacitative Effects, Sentencing Research, and Research on Criminal Careers. He was a member of the Academy's Commission on Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education from 1994 to 2000. Prof. Blumstein also served from 1979 to 1990 as chairman of the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency, the state's criminal justice planning agency, and as a member of the Pennsylvania Commission on Sentencing from 1986 to 1996.


Prof. Blumstein was president of the Operations Research Society of America (ORSA) in 1977-78, and received ORSA's Kimball Medal "for service to the profession and the society" in 1985 and its President's Award in 1993 "for service to society." He was president of The Institute of Management Sciences (TIMS) in 1987-88 and in 1996 he was the president of the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences (INFORMS), created by the merger of ORSA and TIMS. He is a fellow of both the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and the American Society of Criminology, which awarded him its Sutherland Award for "contributions to research" in 1987. He also served as the society's president in 1991-92. In 1996, he was awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws degree by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice of the City University of New York. He was awarded the Wolfgang Award for Distinguished Achievement in Criminology in 1998 and was elected to the National Academy of Engineering in 1998. He was awarded the 2007 Stockholm Prize in Criminology. He was appointed in 2012 as chair of the Science Advisory Board for the Office of Justice Programs in the U.S. Dept of Justice.


Professor Blumstein received a bachelor's degree in engineering physics and a PhD in operations research from Cornell University.