John MacDonald

Professor of Criminology and Sociology, and Director of the Master of Science in Criminology

Ph.D., Criminology, University of Maryland, 1999

M.A., Criminology, University of Maryland, 1996

B.A., Political Science, Vassar College, 1994

Research Interests

Professor MacDonald studies crime and violence, race and ethnic disparities in criminal justice, and impact of public policy on safety. A current focus of his work is on examining how the science of urban planning can make our cities healthier, safer, and livable. The National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and private foundations helped support the research on changing places. He is also active studying racial disparities in criminal justice, and ways to reduce these disparities through policy and program reforms.

Selected Publications

MacDonald, J., Branas, C., & Stokes, R. (2019). Changing Places: The Science and Art of New Urban Planning. Princeton University Press.

Gibson, J. M., MacDonald, J. M., Fisher, M., Chen, X., Pawlick, A., & Cook, P. J. (2022). Early life lead exposure from private well water increases juvenile delinquency risk among US teens. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 119(6).

Braga, A. A., MacDonald, J. M., & McCabe, J. (2022). Body worn cameras, lawful police stops, and NYPD officer compliance: A cluster randomized controlled trial. Criminology, 60(1), 124-158.

Brantingham, P. J., Carter, J., MacDonald, J., Melde, C., & Mohler, G. (2021). Is the recent surge in violence in American cities due to contagion? Journal of Criminal Justice, 76, 101848.

South, E. C., MacDonald, J., & Reina, V. (2021). Association between structural housing repairs for low-income Homeowners and neighborhood crime. JAMA network open, 4(7), e2117067-e2117067.

Macdonald, J., Nguyen, V., Jensen, S. T., & Branas, C. C. (2021). Reducing crime by remediating vacant lots: the moderating effect of nearby land uses. Journal of Experimental Criminology, 1-26.

MacDonald, J., & Raphael, S. (2020). Effect of scaling back punishment on racial and ethnic disparities in criminal case outcomes. Criminology & Public Policy, 19(4), 1139-1164.

MacDonald, J. M., & Stokes, R. J. (2020). Gentrification, land use, and crime. Annual Review of Criminology, 3, 121-138.

Courses Taught


Criminal Justice

Proseminar in Criminology

Proseminar in Criminal Justice


Co-editor-in-chief, Journal of Quantitative Criminology ( 
Quattrone Center for the Fair Administration of Justice Penn Injury Science Center