Our Team

Prosecutorial Performance Indicators

The Team

Besiki Luka Kutateladze

Florida International University

About Besiki

Dr. Besiki Luka Kutateladze is an associate professor in the Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice. He is also a founder and co-manager of Prosecutorial Performance Indicators (PPIs), a national research and technical assistance project focusing on prosecutorial reform.

Prof. Kutateladze specializes in performance indicators, prosecutorial discretion, racial disparities, and hate crime reporting and prosecution. His scholarship has been featured in many top-tier publications, including solo- and first-author articles in each of the field’s three flagship journals: Criminology, Justice Quarterly, and Law & Human Behavior. His work has been referenced by The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Miami Herald, The Tampa Bay Times, The Orlando Sentinel, The Huffington Post, and The Crime Report.

Prof. Kutateladze has raised over $21m in research funds. This includes $9m+ while at FIU, since 2016. He served as a principal investigator (PI) on multiple National Institute of Justice-funded projects.

In 2019, the FIU Provost named Prof. Kutateladze FIU’s Top Scholar for Research. In 2021, he received a prestigious FIU Award for Excellence in Research and Creative Activity.

Prior to his appointment at FIU, Prof. Kutateladze was the founding research director at the Institute for State and Local Governance (ISLG) of the City University of New York. Before that, Prof. Kutateladze served as the research director for the Prosecution and Racial Justice Program of the Vera Institute of Justice. From 2008 to 2013, he played a crucial role in the development of the United Nations Rule of Law Indicators and their implementation in Haiti and Liberia. Prior to that, Prof. Kutateladze taught courses on comparative criminal justice and statistics at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, and lectured and conducted research on criminal procedure at Tbilisi State University.

In 2002, Prof. Kutateladze was the U.S. State Department fellow from the Republic of Georgia.

Featured Publications:

Kutateladze, B. L., Dunlea, R. R., Liu, L., & Arndt, M. (2022). A test of the bifurcation hypothesis in prosecutorial diversionCriminology & Public Policy. Early View.

Kutateladze, B. L. (2022). Acting “straight”: Socio-behavioral consequences of anti-queer hate crime victimizationJustice Quarterly, 39(5), 1036-1058.

Kutateladze, B. L. (2018). Tracing charge trajectories: A study of the influence of race in charge changes at case screening, arraignment, and disposition. Criminology, 56(1), 123-153.

Education:

PhD, Criminal Justice, 2008

The Graduate Center of the City University of New York

MA, Criminal Justice, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, 2005

John Jay College of Criminal Justice

PhD / ABD, Criminal Procedure Law, 2002

Tbilisi State University, Republic of Georgia

Jurist Degree, 1999

Kutaisi State University, Republic of Georgia

Don Stemen

Loyola University Chicago

About Don

Dr. Don Stemen is a Professor and Chairperson in the Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology and a member of the Graduate Faculty at Loyola University, Chicago. Dr. Stemen received his PhD in Law and Society from the Institute for Law and Society at New York University in 2007. Before coming to Loyola, Dr. Stemen was the Director of Research on Sentencing and Corrections at the Vera Institute of Justice, where he worked with state and county governments to reform criminal justice policies.

Dr. Stemen’s research focuses on prosecutorial decision-making, exploring contextual factors affecting prosecutorial outcomes, and sentencing and corrections issues, examining the innovation and diffusion of sentencing and corrections policies across the United States. His research has been supported through grants from the National Institute of Justice, the National Institute of Corrections, the Bureau of Justice Assistance, the Open Society Foundation, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Arnold Ventures, and the Microsoft Justice Reform Initiative. 

Awards

Co-Principal Investigator (with David Olson, Co-Principal Investigator). A Process and Impact Evaluation of Illinois’ Policy to Eliminate Cash Bail and Reform Pretrial Practices. National Institute of Justice (15PNIJ-21-GG-02807-RESS) ($632,781) (2022-2025).

Co-Principal Investigator (with David Olson, Co-Principal Investigator). A Process and Impact Evaluation of Illinois’ Pretrial Fairness Act. Arnold Ventures ($509,708) (2022-2025).

Co-Principal Investigator (with David Olson, Co-Principal Investigator). Research and Evaluation to Support Criminal Justice and Pretrial Reforms in Illinois. John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation ($600,032) (2022-2024).

Co-Principal Investigator (with David Olson, Co-Principal Investigator). Estimating the Impact of Bond Court Reforms in Illinois. Arnold Ventures. ($79,057) (2021-2022)

Principal Investigator. Implementing Prosecutorial Performance Indicators in Colorado: Developing a Statewide Model of Reform. Microsoft Justice Reform Initiative ($882,633) (2021-2023).

Co-Principal Investigator (with Elizabeth Webster, Co-Principal Investigator; Beth Huebner, Co-Principal Investigator; Marisa Omori, Co-Principal Investigator). Exploring Prosecutorial Discretion in the Plea Bargaining Process in Milwaukee and St. Louis Counties. City University of New York Institute for State and Local Governance/Safety and Justice Challenge Research Consortium ($225,000) (2021-2022).

Co-Principal Investigator (with David Olson, Co-Principal Investigator). Cook County Justice System Dashboard. John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation ($525,000) (2019-2023).

Selected Publications

Stemen, Don and David Olson (2021). Anchoring drug offenses in Cook County: exploring variation in sentence outcomes in Illinois. Ohio State Journal of Criminal Law (forthcoming).

Meldrum, Ryan, Don Stemen, and Besiki Kutateladze (2020). Progressive and traditional orientations to prosecution: An empirical assessment in four prosecutorial offices. Criminal Justice and Behavior 48(4): 354-372.

Orwat, John, Don Stemen, Christine George, Jennifer Cossyleon, and Whitney Key. (2019). The impact of the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office deferred prosecution program. Journal of Offender Rehabilitation 58(2): 133-153.

Stemen, Don and Gipsy Escobar. (2018). Whither the prosecutor? Prosecutor and county effects on guilty plea outcomes in Wisconsin. Justice Quarterly.

Andres F. Rengifo, Don Stemen, and Ethan Amidon. (2017). When policy comes to town: Discourses and dilemmas of implementation of a statewide reentry policy in Kansas. Criminology 55: 603-630

Stemen, Don and David Olson. (2017). Two paths to policy: Data, discretion, and local-level problems in Illinois’ sentencing reform process. Federal Sentencing Reporter 30(2): 138-145

Stemen, Don. (2017). Beyond the war: The evolving nature of the U.S. approach to drugs. Harvard Review of Law and Policy 11(2): 375-418.

Education
PhD, Law and Society, 2007

New York University

MA, Criminal Justice, 1997

University of Illinois, Chicago

BS, Mathematics

Rebecca Dunlea

University of Massachusetts Lowell

About Rebecca

Rebecca Dunlea is an Assistant Professor in the School of Criminology and Justice Studies at the University of Massachusetts Lowell. Her research focuses on inequalities and inefficiencies in courtroom outcomes, most notably those related to prosecution, racial and ethnic differences, and agency-level justice policy. Her work relies heavily on researcher-practitioner partnerships and the use of both quantitative and qualitative methods to understand court actor decision making and guide reforms. Dr. Dunlea’s work has been published in outlets such as Criminology, Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency, and Criminology & Public Policy. She received her M.A. and Ph.D. in Criminology and Criminal Justice from the University of Maryland, and her B.A. from Wellesley College.

Melba V. Pearson, Esq.

Florida International University

About Melba

A New York native, Melba Pearson has called Miami home for over 20 years. After receiving her undergraduate degree at New York University, she completed her studies at Hofstra University (now Maurice Dean) School of Law.

Ms. Pearson  is a civil rights and criminal law attorney who works in the Jack D. Gordon Institute for Public Policy at Florida International University (FIU). She serves as the Director of Prosecution Projects, overseeing technical assistance, training, and community engagement efforts around the field of prosecution. Her primary assignment is as co-manager of the MacArthur Foundation-funded Prosecutorial Performance Indicators’ project, which aims to improve prosecutorial offices’ efficiency, effectiveness and fairness through data, research, technical assistance, and communications support. 

Before joining FIU, she served as the Deputy Director for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Florida for three years.  Ms. Pearson was part of the leadership team who helped pass Amendment 4 in 2018 – the historic voting rights amendment which re-enfranchised people with felony convictions in Florida.  Additionally, she worked heavily on criminal justice reform legislation, policing, and expanding voting rights. Prior to the ACLU, Ms. Pearson was an Assistant State Attorney in Miami-Dade County for 16 years. After prosecuting a variety of crimes, she was selected to join the Domestic Crimes Unit, focusing on serious domestic violence crimes as well as homicides for close to four years. In her next assignment, Ms. Pearson was integral to the re-launch of the Community Prosecution Unit, whose goal is partnering with the community to find creative solutions to prevent crime and provide outreach. She ended her prosecutorial career as the Assistant Chief in the Career Criminal/Robbery Unit, supervising junior attorneys while prosecuting homicides. Ms. Pearson was the progressive candidate for Miami-Dade State Attorney in 2020, garnering close to 155,000 votes as a first time candidate from across party lines.

Ms. Pearson is a frequent guest lecturer on a wide array of law enforcement concerns. She lectured nationwide to prosecutors on behalf of the National District Attorneys Association (NDAA). She serves as adjunct faculty for FlU Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice, University of Phoenix, and Bryant and Stratton College, teaching law to undergraduate as well as master’s students. A prolific writer, she has published numerous popular and scholarly articles on topics including police encounters, domestic violence, crimes against women, criminal trial procedure, along with everyday legal issues.  Publications that have profiled, featured or quoted her include The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Baltimore Sun, Essence Magazine, The Huffington Post, The Miami Herald, and Ebony Magazine.   In 2020, Ms. Pearson edited and authored the book “Can They Do That? Understanding Prosecutorial Discretion”. Lastly, she is the author of a blog on the topics of real life and the law at The Resident Legal Diva.

Ms. Pearson is a highly sought after public speaker known for her lively and engaging speaking style at corporate, industry and academic events.  She has spoken on and moderated panels for the American Bar Association, the National Black Prosecutors Association, the (Miami) Dade County Bar Association, the National Association of Black Journalists, the National District Attorneys Association and the Association of Prosecuting Attorneys. She has also been a guest on local as well as national media regarding legal trends including CourtTV and Law & Crime.

Ms. Pearson has taken on a leadership/mentoring role in several charity organizations. She is Past President of the National Black Prosecutors Association (NBPA), and President of the NBPA Foundation; Co-Chair of the Prosecution Function Committee/Vice Chair, Criminal Justice Section of the American Bar Association; Vice Chair of the Florida Justice Center, as well as Past President of the Gwen S. Cherry Black Women Lawyers Association in South Florida.

Education:

Juris Doctorate, 1997

Hofstra University (Maurice Dean) School of Law, New York

Bachelor of Arts, Metropolitan Studies/Politics/Psychology, 1994

New York University College of Arts and Sciences, New York

 

Lin Liu

Florida International University

About Lin

Dr.Liu’s research and expertise revolves around criminal justice actors’ focal concerns, criminal offending trajectories, the heterogeneous needs of released prisoners, and quantitative methodologies. Her research has appeared in such journals as Crime & Delinquency, Justice Quarterly, and Sociological Inquiry. Prior to earning her Ph.D., Dr. Liu served seven years as a prosecutor in Beijing, China.

Education
PhD, Criminology, 2020
University of Delaware, Delaware, USA

MA, Criminology, 2016
University of Delaware, Delaware, USA

MS, Statistics, 2020
University of Delaware, Delaware, USA
MA, Law, 2007
University of Science and Technology Beijing, China
BA, Law, 2001
Hebei University of Technology, China

Branden DuPont

Loyola University of Chicago

About Branden

Branden DuPont is a data analyst at the Medical College of Wisconsin. His work revolves around using analytics to address social problems with a focus on criminal and civil justice policy. Current and completed projects include building a statewide database of Wisconsin Criminal Cases, applying NLP methods to analyze sentencing, and developing a method to evaluate statewide recidivism. He also built out a project tracking evictions in the City of Milwaukee which has been featured by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Next City, and the Sunlight Foundation. You can view the project here.

He resides in Riverwest, Milwaukee and more often than not bikes to work – even during the harsh and unforgiving Wisconsin winters.

Education
BA, Political Science, 2013

University of Wisconsin Milwaukee

Loyola University of Chicago

Twitter

David Olson

Loyola University Chicago

About David
David Olson is a Professor in the Criminal Justice and Criminology Department at Loyola University Chicago, where he is also the Graduate Program Director, and is also the Co-Director (with Diane Geraghty, Loyola School of Law) of Loyola’s interdisciplinary Center for Criminal Justice Research, Policy and Practice. Previously Dr. Olson served as the Chair of the Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology and as Director of Loyola’s interdisciplinary Forensic Science Program. Dr. Olson currently serves as the Chairperson for the advisory boards of the Illinois Department of Corrections and the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice through separate gubernatorial appointments. In 2015, David was appointed as a Commissioner to the Illinois Governor’s Commission on Criminal Justice and Sentencing Reform

For nearly 20 years, Dr. Olson worked at the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority, where he was the director of Illinois’ Statewide Drug and Violent Crime Control Strategy Impact Evaluation Program and was responsible for overseeing the evaluation and monitoring of federally funded drug control efforts in the State of Illinois. For six years, Dr. Olson served as a Special Assistant to the Cook County Sheriff through a cooperative agreement between Loyola and the Cook County Sheriff’s Office. David has served as staff to the Illinois Governor’s Task Force on Crime and Corrections (1992-1993), the Illinois Legislative Committee on Juvenile Justice (1994-1996), the Illinois Truth-in-Sentencing Commission (1996-1998), the Illinois Governor’s Community Safety and Prisoner Re-Entry Management Workgroup/Commission (2004-2006), and the Illinois Capital Punishment Reform Study Committee (2007-2010), and in 2015 was appointed as a Commissioner to the Illinois Governor’s Commission on Criminal Justice and Sentencing Reform. Dr. Olson has worked with a variety of federal, state and local agencies to develop and evaluate programs and policies, particularly in the area of community and institutional corrections, during his 29 years in the field of criminal justice.

Dr. Olson has published more than 100 articles, research bulletins and research reports, and has made more than 100 presentations at professional conferences and training symposia. Some of David’s most recent research has been published in the Journal of Offender Rehabilitation, Women and Criminal Justice, and Justice Research and Policy. David currently serves as the editor for the Justice Research and Statistics Association’s peer-reviewed journal, Justice Research and Policy. Dr. Olson received his B.S. in Criminal Justice from Loyola University Chicago, his M.A. in Criminal Justice from the University of Illinois at Chicago, and his Ph.D. in Political Science/Public Policy Analysis from the University of Illinois at Chicago, where he was the recipient of the Assistant United States Attorney General’s Graduate Research Fellowship. In 2015 Dr. Olson received the John Howard Association Outstanding Research Contributions Award, and in 2011 he received the Hans W. Mattick Award for outstanding accomplishments in the field of criminology and criminal justice research from the Illinois Academy of Criminology.

Education
PhD, Political Science/Public Policy Analysis, 1996

University of Illinois, Chicago

MA, Criminal Justice, 1991

University of Illinois, Chicago

BS, Criminal Justice, 1988

University of Illinois, Chicago

Twitter

Tierra Fulwood

Florida International University

About Tierra
Tierra Fulwood, a Miami native, is a Juris Doctorate candidate at FIU School of Law. She graduated from Georgia State University with a degree in Criminal Justice. She is passionate about criminal justice and education. She is interested in how racial disparities impact minorities and hopes to change the system.

Ryan Meldrum

Florida International University

About Ryan
Dr. Ryan C. Meldrum holds a B.S. (Magna Cum Laude) degree in Sociology from Oregon State University. His M.S. and Ph.D. in Criminology were earned at the College of Criminology and Criminal Justice, The Florida State University.

Dr. Meldrum’s research interests are broadly focused on the causes of juvenile and young adult offending. His research has appeared in such journals as Criminology, Justice Quarterly, Journal of Quantitative Criminology, Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency, Intelligence, Preventive Medicine, Criminal Justice and Behavior, Journal of Criminal Justice, and Youth Violence and Juvenile Justice, among others. He is the winner of the 2016 Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences New Scholar Award, was named a 2016 FIU Top Scholar for Research, and was named a 2018 FIU Top Scholar for Student Mentorship.

Rachel Silverthorn

Florida International University

About Rachel

Rachel is a Ph.D. student in the International Crime and Justice Program at FIU. She holds a B.A. in Psychology from Eastern Washington University, where she was a McNair Scholar. Her research interests include judicial proceedings and treatment of defendants and offenders within the criminal justice system. Rachel currently works as a graduate research assistant in the Gordon Institute.

    Eduardo Mendoza Montoya

    Florida International University

    About Eduardo

    Eduardo Mendoza Montoya is a PhD student in the FIU Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice. He received his B.A. in Political Science from the Pontificia Universidad Javeriana of Bogotá, Colombia, and a M.P.A from the University of Texas at Dallas. He previously worked in the office of Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law of the Colombian Attorney General’s Office. His research interest is focused on criminal justice systems, especially their performance and human resource management. He is also interested in crime prevention initiatives.

      Michael Hall

      MediumFour

      About Michael

      Michael Hall is the Chief of Ideation and Senior Managing Partner of MediumFour, a prestigious marketing and branding company that specializes in helping owners build companies from inception to execution. He manages social media for the PPIs. MediumFour distinguishes itself into today’s market by its Marketing Energy + Design ™  mantra that delivers the vision and innovation needed to drive momentum for a formidable and ever-growing client roster. The company’s approach of incorporating owner concepts and using key technology and branding techniques, help to set apart businesses who consult with MediumFour. Through his affiliation with Cohort 5 of the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses and Florida International University’s Food Start-Up Incubator, Michael has been able to incorporate valuable skills from these programs to continue to elevate MediumFour and its clients to new growth while simultaneously creating jobs for other entrepreneurs. 

      Projects which Michael has pioneered and featured in, include: 

      • Justice ™ – the first organization created to shed light on “Stand Your Ground” legislation through the awareness of the Trayvon Martin case.  
      • Art of Entrepreneurship – a coaching and consulting program for high-producing entrepreneurs 
      • Video production – Malawi Documentary, Behind The Bar 
      • Brand Development  – Southern Girl Desserts, Jazz In The Gardens, Berger Singerman, The Resource Room, Funk Fest, Catch This, Global HR Research, Gadsden County Healthy Start Coalition, Young Elected Officials Network  As an artist, designer and developer, what sets Michael apart is the unique connection he makes with the use of left and right brain visualization to create a unique, creative, and analytical approach to working with his clients. His love for art and storytelling that goes into art, inspires Michael to produce quality work for his clients that captures the client’s vision and builds a brand that consumers can recognize and be drawn to.  
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