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Jennifer Trost

Specialty area(s)

History of Identity Theft and Impersonation; Swindling; History of Identification and Surveillance Policy; White-Collar Crime; Juvenile Justice Policy

Brief biography

Since I grew up in the segregated South, I have been interested in how different groups of people experience the American justice system and how those differences contribute to crime policy. My book Gateway to Justice: The Juvenile Court and Progressive Child Welfare in a Southern City explored the origins and workings of the juvenile justice system in Memphis, Tennessee. My current research is about the history of identity theft and impersonation in America, beginning with the Impostor Rule and ending with the Identity Theft and Assumption Deterrence Act of 1998. I trace the evolution of different ways of identifying people such as formal names, credit ratings, the passport, fingerprinting, driver licenses, and financial authorization codes and how identification is used for surveillance by both the state and private groups. As a policy historian, I try to do as much as possible to correct misinformation about crime and criminals and to explain why we have the justice system we do.

I grew up in Lubbock, Texas.

Current courses at UWL

Crime and Punishment in America
Global Origins of the Modern World
Introduction to Public and Policy History 
Money: A History
US Reform Movements


Ph.D. History and Policy, Carnegie Mellon University, Pennsylvania
M.S. Applied History, Carnegie Mellon University, Pennsylvania
B.A. History, Southwestern University, Texas

Teaching history

American History Survey
Comparative Criminal Justice Systems
History of American Drug Policy
History of Crime and Punishment in America 
Juvenile Justice 
Riots and Rioting in America 
World History

Professional history

Associate Professor of Criminal Justice, Utica College, New York 2008-2013

Visiting Associate Professor of Criminal Justice, Muskingum University, Ohio 2006-2007

Associate Professor of History, Saint Leo University, Florida 2005-2007

Assistant Professor of History, Saint Leo University, Florida 2000-2005

Research and publishing

"The Impostor Rule and Identity Theft in America, " Law and History Review, May 2017.

"From Juvenile Court to Safe Haven: The Lessons of Juvenile Justice History and the 2008 Nebraska Safe Haven Law," Criminal Justice Review, September 2013.

Gateway to Justice: The Juvenile Court and Progressive Child Welfare in a Southern City, University of Georgia Press, 2005.