Our Grants

Demographic, Temporal, Relational, and Environmental Dynamics Surrounding Gun Violence


This study will investigate patterns in the demographic, temporal, relational, and environmental contexts in which individuals use guns to commit crimes prosecuted at a Southern District Attorney's Office.


In Progress


This project seeks to improve the data available to understand patterns in the use of guns to commit crimes and support evidence-based criminal justice practices in the Deep South.


The present study will collect three types of data through immersive research at a Southern District Attorney's Office: (1) ethnographic fieldnotes on weekly staff attorney meetings, judicial hearings, and circuit court trials; (2) in-depth interviews with prosecutors about the cultural and relational worlds that structure their daily work; and (3) analysis of investigative reports on all felony criminal cases involving a gun, case disposition records, and trial transcripts.


Little is known about the demographic, temporal, relational, and environmental contexts in which individuals use guns to commit crimes in the Deep South. This work will inform policies and interventions for reducing the use of firearms to commit crimes.

Investigator Bios

Patricia Southerland, Ph.D., is a postdoctoral fellow in the criminology and criminal justice department at the University of Alabama. Her research interests include law enforcement training, human trafficking, victimization, and policy evaluation. Patricia has worked as a practitioner within multiple areas of the criminal-legal system over the past seven years. Specifically, she has obtained experience in special areas such as human trafficking investigations, policing, courts, and community corrections. Patricia completed her doctorate in criminal hustice at the University of Southern Mississippi.

Dr. Susan Dewey (mentor) is a professor of criminology and criminal justice at The University of Alabama. She is the author/editor of 12 books and over 100 peer-reviewed publications on the intersections between violence, vulnerability, and criminal justice institutions. Her most recent book-in-progress, co-authored with Tuscaloosa County District Attorney Hays Webb and Dr. Brittany Gilmer, is titled Gun Present: Inside a Southern District Attorney's Battle Against Gun Violence.

Dr. Brittany Gilmer (mentor) is an associate professor of criminology and criminal justice and her research focuses on the relationship between violence, the illicit, territory, and structures of power. She has worked as a researcher and later as a consultant with numerous international organizations, including the United Nations Office on Drugs Counter Piracy Programme, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Somali Fisheries Sector, and the Hostage Support Network.

Grant Amount
Award Type
The University of Alabama
Patricia Southerland, postdoctoral fellow, University of Alabama
Expected Completion Date
August 2023
Focus Areas
Urban Gun Violence
Domestic Gun Violence