President Joe Biden has appointed Alex Piquero, a University of Miami professor and renowned criminologist, to lead the US Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Statistics in Washington.
Piquero joined UM in August 2020 as Professor and Chair of the Department of Sociology and Criminology. He will start in his new position on Monday, August 15, according to a press release on Wednesday.
“This is the honor of my life,” said Piquero, 52. “In academia, I’ve had the great fortune to work with students, faculty and colleagues and see them succeed, but when you get a call to serve the nation in this way, to be the director of crime and justice data for the United States United — I’ve used that data my entire career — it’s one of those moments where you look in the mirror and say, ‘This is it.’”
“It is a great challenge, but it is an incredible opportunity. I feel very honored. I’m in the clouds,” he said Thursday in an interview with the Herald.
The Bureau of Justice Statistics collects, analyzes and shares information about crime, crime victims and people who participate in criminal activity, according to its digital portal. It also provides financial and technical support to state, local, and tribal governments to inform policy.
Piquero said he hopes to generate timely, accurate and objective information on crime and justice, and then deliver that data in a usable and accessible way.
Piquero’s parents immigrated to the United States from Cuba in the early 1960s; he was born in the Washington area. He earned his bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate degrees in Criminology and Criminal Justice from Maryland College Park University.
He became a scholar of crime as a result of “complete chance,” he said. As a college student, he needed an extra class and enrolled in an introductory criminal justice course. The professor “made the subject come alive,” he said, and he fell in love.
“Taking that class with that instructor changed my life,” he said.
He is passionate about researching “why people do what they do, why people obey the law and why other people don’t obey the law, and how do we intervene and prevent all of those things.”
Prior to UM, Piquero taught at Temple University, Northeastern University, University of Florida, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, University of Maryland, Florida State University, and the University of Texas at Dallas. .
Currently, he is also a professor at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia.
His wife, Nicole Leeper Piquero, works at UM as a professor of criminology.