International scholars stay regularly at NSCR for shorter or longer periods as ‘Visiting Scholar’. At this time, dr. Mikko Aaltonen is staying at NSCR. He arrived in September this year and will be present until mid-December. There is a next visit scheduled in 2017 .
Visiting Scholars are invited by NSCR or sign up on their own initiative. They can use the facilities and workspace at the institute and participate in scientific meetings as well as daily routines. Each Visiting Scholar works during his stay at one or more collaborative projects with researchers from NSCR, focusing on publications or data collection.
Mikko Aaltonen works as a senior researcher and adjunct professor at the Institute of Criminology and Legal Policy of the University of Helsinki. As a result of major organisational reform to Finnish governmental research institutes, the institute that was formerly called the National Research Institute of Legal Policy became a part of the University of Helsinki starting 2015.
Mikko defended his PhD thesis in 2013. He is interested in criminal careers, effects of criminal sanctions and statistical methods, and has recently written papers on topics such as economic problems and crime, and the effects of incarceration on post-release employment. These topics seemed to align well with research interests of researchers at NSCR.
In Finland, criminology is in a somewhat mixed position as an academic discipline. In the past, most research had concentrated to governmental researcher institutes (Ministry of Justice, Police College), whereas the academic standing had been weak due to lack of professorships and criminology programmes in Finnish universities. At the same time, the wealth of register-linkage data and its recent improved availability holds much promise for criminological research in the future. Mikko’s main motivation for coming to Amsterdam was to try and figure out what to do with all the data by working with some of the leading scholars in the field, who additionally know their way around register data.
The primary data he is working on during his stay is called EKSY-014, which is a 20% random sample of Finnish families with children aged 0-14 in 2000. It is a yearly panel data, with observations from 1987 to 2012, and includes a host of measures on e.g. socioeconomic attainment, physical and mental health and police-recorded crime from years 1996-2012. Mikko is currently working on two papers together with Frank Weerman and Victor van der Geest on this data.
In addition to analysis of existing data, the other purpose of the visit is to design future studies and data collections. With Arjan Blokland, he is seeking to build a Finnish dataset of criminal careers comparable to CCLS (Criminal Career and Lifecourse Study) to facilitate Dutch-Finnish comparisons of criminal careers in the long run. Anja Dirkzwager is helping design a Finnish study on released prisoners, that would shed more light on post-release social integration of former inmates, and perhaps provide a point of comparison for the results obtained from the Prison Project.
Personal website Mikko Aaltonen: http://blogs.helsinki.fi/meaalton/