Heather L. Pfeifer
School of Criminal Justice
Ph.D., University of Maryland, College Park
B.S., M.S., University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee
view Prof. Pfeifer's ResearchGate profile
I have had a lifelong fascination with the criminal justice system. When my mother was pregnant with me, her father was murdered. Consequently, I spent the first few weeks of my life in a courtroom while the trial was held. As I grew up, I had a lot of questions about the specifics of the case and how it was handled by the criminal justice system. As a result, I think both my parents and I always thought I would eventually choose a career in law.
This fascination with the legal system eventually led me to major in criminal justice as an undergraduate at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Through the course of my studies, I discovered a passion for research and teaching, so I decided to pursue the study of justice in the academic, rather than the legal, arena. Although this is not the path I originally envisioned I would take, it is definitely the path I am meant to follow. I love having the opportunity to show students how research can inform practice and how they can then use those skills to become more critical consumers of information.
My research interests center around child victimization, juvenile delinquency and developing new teaching pedagogies for criminal justice students. I have published in the Journal of Criminal Justice Education, the Justice Policy Journal and the Encyclopedia of Criminal Justice, and I've written numerous chapters in The Victims Assistance Provider’s Handbook, the curriculum manual for the Roper Victim Assistance Academy of Maryland. I am currently co-authoring an instructor’s manual and an accompanying student workbook, Successful Writing Starts With Knowing the Difference Between Write & Wrong: Writing Within Criminal Justice, which will be published in summer 2012.
I have served as a consultant for federal and state agencies, including the Department of Health and Human Services Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, the Maryland Department of Juvenile Services, the Circuit Court for Baltimore City Family Division/Juvenile Docket and the Prince George’s County Office of the Sheriff. In addition, I helped to establish the Roper Victim Assistance Academy of Maryland with my colleague Debra Stanley in 2003; the academy has since trained more than 500 victim service professionals in the state of Maryland.