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College of Humanities & Social Sciences

Dr. Ron Helms


PhD, University of Oregon

(360) 650-7927

AH 526

Ronald Helms received his B.A. from California State University, Chico (1987), and subsequently went on to earn M.S. (1994) and Ph D. (1997) degrees while attending the University of Oregon. Dr. Helms spent two years on faculty at Washington State University before joining the Sociology faculty here at Western Washington University in 2000. Dr. Helms’ currently teaches courses in the areas of Crime, Law, and Deviance and also Military Sociology. His quantitative research has focused primarily on political and social determinants of punishment and social control. Other research has addressed various social and economic determinants of violence in U.S. central cities. Dr. Helms also does research in the area of security studies and has published several papers addressing aspects of counter-terrorism and cyber-terror threats. Currently, Dr. Helms is engaged in research relating to U.S.-Mexico border security with an emphasis on diverse sources of violence and related challenges to social control in cities on both sides of the border.

Faculty Research Interests

Criminal justice, criminology, research methods

Selected Publications

Helms, Ronald and S.E. Costanza. (2014). “Energy Inequality and Instrumental Violence: An Empirical Test of a Deductive Hypothesis.”  SAGE Open. (April-June): 1–17.

Helms, Ronald, Gutierrez, Ricky S., and Reeves-Gutierrez, Debra. (2014). “Public Sector Responses to Jail Mental Health: A Review with Recommendations for Future Research.” Sociology Mind. Vol.4, No.1, 31-35.

Costanza, S.E.; Helms, Ronald; Kilburn Jr., John. C. and Koski, Susan V. (2013) The Weed and Seed Initiative and Police Activity Within Communities. in Global Community Policing: Problems and Challenges (eds: Arvind Verma, Dilip K. Das and Manoj Abraham). Taylor and Francis, Oxford, U.K.

Costanza, S.E. and Helms, Ronald. (2012). Street Gangs and Aggregate Homicides: An Analysis of Effects during the 1990’s Violent Crime PeakHomicide Studies 16(3) 280-307.

Gutierrez, Ricky S., Reeves-Gutierrez, Debra, and Helms, Ronald (2011). Service Learning and Criminal Justice Students: An Assessment of the Effects of Co-Curricular Pedagogy on GPA and Graduation RatesJournal of Criminal Justice Education 23:3, 356-380DOI: 10.1080/10511253.2011.590514.

Helms, Ronald, S. E. Costanza and Johnson, N.(2011).Crouching Tiger or Phantom Dragon: Examining the Discourse on Global Cyber-Terror. Security Journal. 25, 57-75. doi:10.1057/sj.2011.6

Helms, Ronald and Costanza S. E. (2010). Modeling the Politics of Punishment: A Contextual Analysis of Racial Disparity in Drug Sentencing. Criminal Justice Review, Vol. 35-4, pp. 472-491.

Costanza, S. E., Helms, Ronald, Ratansi, Shamir, Kilburn, John C. Jr., and Harmon, John E. (2010). Boom to Bust or Bust to Boom: Following the Effects of Weed and Seed Zoning in New Britain, Connecticut, 1995-2000. Police Quarterly, Vol. 13-1, pp. 49-72.

Helms, Ronald and S. E. Costanza. (2009). Modeling the Structural Sources of Discretionary Use of Civil Asset Forfeiture and Drug Arrests in U.S. Counties. Policing & Society. Vol. 19:1, pp. 1-19.

Helms, Ronald. (2009). Modeling The Politics of Punishment: A Conceptual and Empirical Analysis of ‘Law in Action’ in Criminal Sentencing.” Journal of Criminal Justice, Vol. 37:1, pp. 10-20.

Helms, Ronald (2008). Locally Elected Sheriffs and Money Compensation: A Quantitative Analysis of Organizational and Environmental Contingency Explanations. Criminal Justice Review, Vol. 33:1, pp. 1-24.

Costanza, S.E., Kilburn, John C., and Helms, Ronald. (2008). “Chapter 5: Counterterrorism” in Terrorism in America. Edited by Borgeson, Kevin and Valeri, Robin. Jones & Bartlett Publishers, Boston, MA.

Helms, Ronald. (2007). Dumping Community Problems: Western Washington University’s New Jail Class. American Jail Association and Academe, Vol. 1-2, pp. 2,4.

Helms, Ronald. (2007). The Impact of Political Context on Local law Enforcement Resourcing: An Analysis of Deputy Employment rates in US Counties. Policing & Society, Vol. 17:2, pp. 182-206.

Helms, Ronald and Gutierrez, Ricky S. (2007). Federal Subsidies and Evidence of Progressive Change: A Quantitative Assessment of the Effects of Targeted Grants on Manpower and Innovation in Large U.S. Police Agencies. Police Quarterly, Vol. 10-1, pp. 87-107.

Helms, Ronald and Jacobs, David (2002). Social Context and Sentence Length: Towards a Political Model of Contextual and Individual Influences.” Social Forces, Vol. 81:2, pp. 577-604.

Jacobs, David and Ronald Helms (2001). Racial politics and redistribution: Isolating the contingent influence of civil rights, riots, and crime on tax progressivity.” Social Forces, Vol. 80:1, p. 91-121.

Jacobs, David and Ronald Helms (2001). Toward a Political Sociology of Punishment: Politics and Changes in the Incarcerated Population. Social Science Research, Vol. 30, pp. 171-194.

Jacobs, David and Helms, Ronald (1999). Collective Outbursts, Politics, and Punitive Resources: Toward a Political Sociology of Spending on Social Control. Social Forces, Vol. 77:4, pp. 1497-1523.

Jacobs, David and Helms, Ronald (1998). Testing coercive explanations for order: The determinants of law enforcement strength over time.” Social Forces, Vol. 75:4, pp. 1361-1392.

Jacobs, David and Helms, Ronald E. (1996). Toward a political model of incarceration: A time-series examination of multiple explanations for prison admissions rates. American Journal of Sociology, Vol. 102, pp. 323-357.

Research Interests

  • Criminal Justice
  • Criminology
  • Research Methods