Law and Justice
The Compass: The Newsletter of the College of Humanities & Social Sciences
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Joseph D. Davey, Ph.D., J.D.


Joseph D. Davey, Ph.D.,  J.D.


A Google search of the card catalog at Harvard will reveal call numbers for all five of the books written by Professor Davey in the last 19 years. The same is true at Yale and Princeton and most of the other Ivies. Perhaps more surprising is the fact that each one of those books was published in a different academic field from the others.

The latest publication, “The Shrinking American Middle Class: Social and Cultural Implications of Growing Inequality” was published in 2012 by Macmillan as a work in Economics. The first book “The New Social Contract: Americas Journey from Welfare State to Police State” was published by Praeger Publishers (an imprint of Greenwood) and sold by Barnes and Noble from the shelves in their Sociology section.

The second book “The Politics of Prison Reform: Winning Elections by Waging War on Crime” was a re-written version of Davey’s City University of New York PhD dissertation in Political Science. It was favorably reviewed in the prestigious century-old journal “Social Science Review” by nationally renowned criminologist Ann Chih Lin.

The third title, “The Conscience of the Campus” examined the moral reasoning of today’s college students and Barnes and Noble put it on their shelves in the Philosophy section. “The Bill of Rights Today” is a case and commentary work which is the Law text used in Davey’s Law and Human Rights course at Rowan. Based on landmark U.S. Supreme Court decisions, the text considers the proper constitutional limits on government action in a free society.

There is a strong strain of interdisciplinary thinking in all of Davey’s research and lectures. He is  currently finishing a second edition of “The Bill of Rights Today” and is proposing to the Adjusted Load Committee a book called “The Roberts Revolution: The High Court Re-writes the Constitution”. Chief Justice Roberts has presided over the greatest percentage of five to four decisions in the history of the Supreme Court and in many cases he has joined the same four Justices (Scalia, Thomas, Alito and Kennedy) in reversing Supreme Court precedents that had been decided unanimously.

“The New Social Contract: America's Journey from Welfare State to Police State” is a polemic that examined the problems of poverty, crime, drugs, prisons and the erosion of constitutional rights. While there were over twenty published reviews of the book, the most prestigious journal to review it was Cambridge University’s American Political Science Review (APSR). That journal is widely considered political science's premier scholarly research journal. In that review the author writes:The chief virtue of The New Social Contract is its ability to provoke the reader into viewing the politics of poverty in a new light, primarily by emphasizing the connection between it and the criminal justice system.”

However, the reviewer also criticized Davey’s conclusion that America was moving away from poverty programs and funneling the money into prisons. It was not very apparent in 1995, to the APSR reviewer, or anyone else, that during the following decade America’s welfare rolls were about to fall from 15 million to under 5 million, nor that the inmate population would grow from 1.2 million to 2.3 million, but that is what happened, as Davey had predicted. The New Social Contract also predicted the continuing drop in the crime rate (for demographic reasons) as well as the rapid offshore-outsourcing of jobs to cheaper labor markets in developing countries.

The APSR reviewer went on to suggest that "it would help to compare state level variations in spending priorities, employment patterns and incarceration rates at any one point over time." This is very close to what Davey did in his second book, The Politics of Prison Expansion: Winning Elections by Waging War on Crime. That book is a monograph published in 1998 in which he carefully analyzed the correlation of the rate of imprisonment expansion in each state with numerous social variables such as the increase in the crime rate, the proportion of the population living under the poverty level, the number of drug arrests, the unemployment rate and the proportion of population that is African American.

The work contained the first multiple variable regression analysis ever published exploring the relationship between increasing incarceration rates and the fall of crime in each of the fifty states. The regression equation presented included longitudinal statistics on crime and imprisonment that are disaggregated to the state level. All previous researchers have used national figures, which can easily conceal very important state level variations. In other words, national figures show an increase in incarceration and a decrease in crime rates and assume causation. The counter-intuitive conclusion that Davey reached was that there is practically no relationship at all between the crime rate variation in states that significantly increased incarceration rates and those that did not.

In an article in the December, 2001 edition of Scientific American called “Why Do Prisons Grow”, the author wrote: “Joseph Dillon Davey of Rowan University has attempted to explain such difference (in prison growth) in terms of gubernatorial policy” and he “adds weight to the notion that tough-on-crime policies were the most important factor behind the big increase in prison population”.

In 2001, Davey’s third book, The Conscience of the Campus: Case Studies in Moral Reasoning Among Today's College Students, examined the moral values underlying student's opinions about political and legal dilemmas.

All five works have been well reviewed and they have been adopted for class use on over fifty college campuses. “Google Scholar” keeps track of as many citations of scholarly work as are reported to them. As of 2015, Google counted 149 citations of Davey’s books in the publications of other scholars, suggesting a significant contribution to the literature in the field.



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