James Sutton

James E SuttonProfessor of Sociology

Joined faculty in 2012

  • Ph.D., Ohio State University
  • M.A.,  Ohio State University
  • B.A.,  California State University, Long Beach
  • A.A.,  Long Beach City College

Contact Information

Stern HallPhone (315) 781-4635

Courses Taught

Courses Taught at Hobart and William Smith Colleges

  • Criminology
  • Juvenile Delinquency
  • Introduction to Sociology
  • Men and Masculinities
  • Penology
  • Recognizing Victims and Survivors (First Year Seminar)
  • Research Methods
  • Senior Seminar
  • Social Deviance
  • Sociology of Police and Policing
  • Sociology of Sport
  • Topics in Prisons and Prison Education (Readers College)

Additional Courses Taught at Other Institutions

  • Applied Sociology Internship
  • Quantitative Research Methods
  • Social Problems
  • Sociology of Gangs
  • Statistical Analysis for the Social Sciences


  • Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences (Lifetime Member)
  • American Society of Criminology


Welcome to my bio page. I accidentally stumbled upon sociology as a beginning college student, and I have been passionate about a range of sociology and criminology topics ever since. I therefore consider it a privilege to have a job that entails thinking, reading, writing, and talking about the topics that interest me most.  I was born and raised in Long Beach, California, and I then moved to Ohio to attend graduate school.  Despite the fact that I now live in New York, I still actively maintain a California identity and return home whenever I can.

To quote legendary Ohio State criminologist Simon Dinitz, I am interested in "the mad, the bad, and the different."  I additionally focus on understanding the social circumstances, institutions, and broader societal forces that pertain to crime, justice, and victimization. Some general themes that I have frequently engaged with over the years in my teaching, research, and community service include interpersonal violence, vulnerable populations, crimes of the powerful, and deviance.   

I am currently working on a book that examines the experiences of people who have had a loved one taken by homicide. When I was an advanced graduate student, I served as the Project Manager for a research team that collected interview and official data from adult men who were in prison.  My published works have examined a range of topics, including sexual assault in prison, gangs, prison ethnography, organizational offending, and the use of life events calendars to improve the reliability and validity of self-reported interview data.  Some of the journals that my work has appeared in include the Journal of Criminal Justice, the Journal of Quantitative Criminology, Deviant Behavior, Punishment & Society, International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology, and Crime, Law and Social Change, among others.  

I began teaching in 1999 and have now taught at a large research university, a public comprehensive university, a community college, and a selective private liberal arts college.  I was a visiting faculty member at Hobart and William Smith Colleges in 2006-2007. I then spent five years teaching in a tenure track position in Northern California before returning to HWS in 2012 for a permanent position. I earned tenure in 2016 and was promoted to full professor in 2023, and I have previously served as Chair of the Sociology Department and Chair of the Institutional Review Board (IRB).

I thoroughly enjoy interacting with students, and I have had the pleasure of teaching a number of different courses at the institutions I have worked for. I strive to engage students in the classroom, across campus, and within the broader community.  I have supervised a number of internships, independent studies, and honors projects over the years. I have also conducted approximately 50 field trips to prisons in multiple states for an estimated 700 students, and I have fostered relationships with community organizations and law enforcement agencies. I have also organized campus visits from several high profile speakers (including James SchulerCindy BestLinda Dynel, Marsha Weissman, and exonerated former death row prisoners Shujaa GrahamKirk Bloodsworth and Sabrina Butler). 

I have been trained to deliver Inside-Out courses and was a member of the Steering Committee for the HWS Second Chances Prison Education Program before the program was subsumed by the Cornell Prison Education Program in 2016. I have also received multiple gang specialist certifications from the National Gang Crime Research Center, and I have completed the annual Colonel Henry F. Williams Homicide Investigation Seminar with the New York State Police.

As one of the few criminologists who works at a ‘top 100’ liberal arts college in the U.S., I am constantly thinking about new ways to pursue criminology and criminal justice within a liberal arts setting.

If you are a current or prospective HWS student whose interests are similar to mine, please reach out so that we can brainstorm ways to pursue your interests!

Auburn Prison
Auburn Prison

Masculinities course