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Cyndy Caravelis - Western Carolina University. Cullowhee, NC, US

Cyndy Caravelis

Professor | Western Carolina University


Cyndy Caravelis's research interests include the relationship between social threat and social control, and minorities and crime.



Cyndy Caravelis Publication



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Racial Profiling Panel at WCU




Cyndy Caravelis is a professor of Criminology and Criminal Justice. Her current research interests include the relationship between social threat and social control, the effect of inequality on criminal justice policy, social justice, and minorities and crime. Her research on sentencing inequality has been published in journals such as Justice Quarterly and the Journal of Quantitative Criminology. Recent work has included an examination of race and crime and the Black Lives Matter movement. She co-authored Social Justice, Criminal Justice (Routledge), which examined how the law has historically been used as both a tool for oppression and a vehicle for social change. Additionally, she was awarded a grant to engage in fieldwork researching the Syrian Refugee Crisis in Greece.

Caravelis is a strong proponent of engaged teaching and experiential learning. She was awarded the Service Learning Outstanding Achievement in Teaching Award and was a 2019 cohort member of the Faculty Institute on Community Engagement. She has led study abroad trips to South Africa, New Zealand, France, Germany and England. Her service to the community includes being a board member for the Center for Domestic Peace.

In addition to her academic endeavors, she has extensive field experience in the criminal justice system, including work as a legislative analyst for the Florida Legislature’s Commission on Capital Cases, as a crime intelligence analyst for the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, as an expert witness on criminal sentencing and as an academic instructor in both male and female correctional institutions.

Last but not least, Caravelis enjoys moonlit paddles and a nice Chianti.

Industry Expertise (3)

Writing and Editing



Areas of Expertise (5)

Minorities and Crime

Social Justice


Criminal Justice

Criminal Justice Policy

Accomplishments (3)

Chancellor's Distinguished Teaching Award (professional)


Outstanding Community Service Award (professional)


Service Learning Outstanding Achievement in Teaching Award (professional)


Education (3)

Florida State University: Ph.D., Criminology and Criminal Justice 2007

Florida State University: M.S., Criminology and Criminal Justice 2002

Florida State University: B.A., Criminology and Criminal Justice 2000

Affiliations (5)

  • Center for Domestic Peace : Board Member
  • Society for the Study of Social Problems
  • American Society of Criminology
  • Southern Criminal Justice Association
  • North Carolina Criminal Justice Society

Languages (1)

  • English

Media Appearances (3)

Caravelis begins pilot program for therapy dog to aid domestic violence victims

WCU Stories  online


An initiative by Cyndy Caravelis, associate professor of criminology and criminal justice at Western Carolina University, will include a pilot program to use a therapy dog to aid domestic violence victims and their families in Jackson County.

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Protect and serve: Sylva Police Department pilots social work program

Smoky Mountain News  online


Western Carolina University professors Katy Allen and Cyndy Caravelis were two of the many people engaged in such discussions. Allen, an assistant professor of social work, wanted to investigate how social workers might help improve law enforcement. She reached out to Caravelis, a professor of criminal justice, to partner on the effort. The two got deep into the weeds, researching the relationship between social work, police and criminal justice agencies.

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Campus police department forms community advisory committee

WCU Stories  online


The committee is made up of students, faculty and staff. The committee officers are Cyndy Caravelis (faculty) – chair; Tristan Benson (student) – co-chair; Christopher Perrine (student) – secretary.

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Event Appearances (5)

Risk and Protective Factors in Self-Reported Alcohol Use among College Students

Annual meeting of the American Society of Criminology  Washington D.C.

Comparison of Self-Reported Crime and Official Crime Statistics at Western Carolina University

Annual meeting of the American Society of Criminology  San Francisco, CA

Capital Punishment Opinions from the Legal Profession

Western Criminology Society Meeting  Honolulu, HI

They Said What? Examining Law Enforcement Attitudes on Capital Punishment

American Society of Criminology Meeting  Atlanta, GA

Bridging the Gap Between Researchers and Practitioners in North Carolina

Annual Meeting of the North Carolina Criminal Justice Association  Raleigh, NC

Research Grants (4)


Western Carolina University $1000


Professional Development Grant

Western Carolina University $1200


Summer Research Grant

College of Health and Human Sciences $3000


Summer Research Grant

College of Health and Human Sciences $2500


Articles (4)

National College Health Assessment Measuring Negative Alcohol-Related Consequences among College Students

American Journal of Public Health Research

2013 Alcohol-related consequences among students have been a source of concern for colleges nationwide. Prior research shows that alcohol may lower a person’s inhibitions and reduce their capacity to make responsible, safe decisions.

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Race, Ethnicity, Threat, and the Designation of Career Offenders

Justice Quarterly

2011 Florida statutes allow for the application of enhanced sentences to defendants designated as “Career Offenders.” The application of these laws is discretionary and as such, prosecutors seek the designation for a fraction of the defendants who qualify.

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Perceptions of Law Enforcement Officers on Capital Punishment in the United States

International Journal of Criminal Justice Sciences

2013 As scholars and legislators debate the efficacy of capital punishment, research has played a significant role in supporting arguments on both sides of the issue. Studies on the death penalty in North Carolina, United States, have ranged from examining the effects of race and sex on capital case outcomes to polling the general public on their personal support for the death penalty.

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Static and Dynamic Indicators of Minority Threat in Sentencing Outcomes: A Multi-Level Analysis

Journal of Quantitative Criminology

2011 Designation as a “Habitual Offender” is an enhanced form of punishment which unlike, “Three Strikes” or “10-20-Life,” is entirely discretionary. We use Hierarchical Generalized Linear Modeling to assess the direct effects of race and Latino ethnicity on the designation of Habitual Offenders as well as the effect of both static and dynamic indicators of racial and ethnic threat on those outcomes.

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