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Sheldon Zhang

Sheldon Zhang
Sheldon Zhang, Ph.D. Chair, Professor
  • College
    College of Fine Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
  • Department
    School of Criminology and Justice Studies
  • Phone
    (978) 934-4160
  • Fax
    (978) 934-3077
  • Office
    Health and Social Sciences Building - 400
  • Email
  • Profile Links


Transnational Organized Crime, Human Trafficking, Offender Re-entry and Rehabilitation, Program Evaluation.

Research Interests

Criminal networks, transnational illicit enterprises, human trafficking, evaluation of community corrections and re-entry programs.


  • Ph D: Sociology, (1993), University of Southern California - Los Angeles, CA
  • MA: Print Journalism, (1988), University of Southern California - Los Angeles, CA
  • BA: English Literature, (1983), Sichuan University - Chengdu, China


Sheldon Zhang has more than two decades of experience as a field researcher in criminology and justice studies. He is internationally known for his work on transnational organized crime such as human smuggling and drug trafficking involving Chinese nationals, and in recent years on human trafficking activities. He has led and co-led several projects that examine the different aspects of human trafficking in U.S and abroad. He was twice invited to the White House for national anti-trafficking gatherings and strategic planning. He is currently serving as an expert consultant to several international organizations such as the International Labor Organization, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, Freedom Fund, and Walk Free Foundation. He is also known for his long time collaborative efforts with correctional agencies in California to evaluate various offender reentry and recidivism reduction programs. Working with criminal justice. social service, and community-based agencies. Zhang has led numerous projects involving complex evaluative designs, randomized controlled trails, as well as ethnographic fieldwork that resulted in empirically grounded and policy relevant scholarship. Zhang has authored/co-authored 9 books and edited volumes in premier academic outlets, such as Stanford University Press and New York University Press. He has also published 64 scholarly journal articles, 35 book chapters/invited articles, and 24 technical reports. His work appeared in top journals in the field, including Criminology, British Journal of Criminology, Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency. His publications also appeared in general political and sociological journals such as the ANNALS of American Academy of Social and Political Science. Zhang has served as Principal Investigator in excess of $8 million worth of externally funded projects. Over his entire career. Zhang has served as Principal Investigator, Co-Principal Investigator, or major co-investigator in projects worth in excess of more than $15 million. Zhang received his Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of Southern California, and previously served as Sociology Department Chair at the San Diego State University.

Selected Publications

  • Vincent, K., Zhang, S., Dank, M. (). Searching for Sex Trafficking Victims: Using a Novel Link-Tracing Method Among Commercial Sex Workers in Muzaffarpur, India. Crime & Delinquency, 001112871989026.
  • Sanchez, G., Zhang, S. (2020). In Their Own Words: Children and the Facilitation of Migrant Journeys on the U.S.-Mexico Border. Victims & Offenders, 15(3) 370-389.
  • Sanchez, G., Zhang, S. (2020). Victimization and Offending in Mexico: The Three-pronged Security Challenges of Trafficking, Kidnapping, and Smuggling. Victims & Offenders, 15(3) 291-294.
  • Qiu, G., Zhang, S., Liu, W. (2019). Trafficking of Myanmar women for forced marriage in China. Crime, Law and Social Change, 72(1) 35-52.
  • Zhang, S., Qiu, G. (2018). Psychosocial Interventions for Substance-Abusing Criminal Offenders: Borrowing US Experience for the Chinese Context. European Journal on Criminal Policy and Research, 24(2) 155-169.
  • Zhang, S., Chin, K. (2018). China’s New Long March to Control Illicit Substance Use: From a Punitive Regime towards Harm Reduction. Journal of Drug Policy Analysis, 11(1).
  • Zhang, S., Sanchez, G.E., Achilli, L. (2018). Crimes of Solidarity in Mobility: Alternative Views on Migrant Smuggling. The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 676(1) 6-15.
  • Sanchez, G.E., Zhang, S. (2018). Rumors, Encounters, Collaborations, and Survival: The Migrant Smuggling–Drug Trafficking Nexus in the U.S. Southwest. The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 676(1) 135-151.
  • Zhang, S., Chin, K. (2017). Swim against the Tide: Using Qualitative Data to Build a Theory on Chinese Human Smuggling (pp. 215-233). Routledge
  • Messner, S.F., Zhang, L., Zhang, S., Gruner, C.P. (2017). Neighborhood Crime Control in a Changing China. Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency, 54(4) 544-577.
  • Zhang, S., Vincent, K. (2017). Strategies to Estimate Global Prevalence of Trafficking for Sexual Exploitation. CHANCE, 30(3) 13-20.
  • Nyamathi, A.M., Zhang, S., Wall, S., Hall, E.A., Salem, B.E., Farabee, D., Faucette, M., Yadav, K. (2016). Drug Use and Multiple Sex Partners Among Homeless Ex-Offenders: Secondary Findings from an Experimental Study. Nursing Research, 65(3) 179 - 190.
  • Zhang, S. (2016). The United States. United Nations Publications
  • Soudijn, M.R., Zhang, S. (2016). Principal-Agency Theory in Illegal Markets: Cooperation and Conflict Among Chinese Loansharks. Asian Journal of Criminology, 11(3) 231-247.
  • Nyamathi, A., Reback, C.J., Salem, B.E., Zhang, S., Shoptaw, S., Branson, C.M., Leake, B. (2015). Correlates of Self-Reported Incarceration Among Homeless Gay and Bisexual Stimulant-Using Young Adults. Western Journal of Nursing Research, 37(6) 799-811.
  • Zhang, S., Li, C. (2015). Counting Labour Trafficking Activities: An Empirical Attempt at Standardized Measurement. Forum on Crime & Society, 8 37 - 61.
  • Pitts, W.J., Barrick, K., Zhang, S., Lattimore, P.K. (2015). Estimating Labor Trafficking Among Farmworkers: An Inverse Sampling Strategy Based on Reliable Housing Predictions. Journal of Human Trafficking, 1(2) 117 - 135.
  • Nyamathi, A., Salem, B.E., Zhang, S., Farabee, D., Hall, B., Khalilifard, F., Leake, B. (2015). Nursing Case Management, Peer Coaching, and Hepatitis A and B Vaccine Completion Among Homeless Men Recently Released on Parole. Nursing Research, 64(3) 177-189.
  • Zhang, S., Chin, K. (2015). Swim Against the Tide: Using Qualitative Data to Build a Theory on Chinese Human Smuggling (20: pp. 215-233). Transaction Books
  • Zhang, S., Ko-lin, C. (2015). The Chinese Heroin Trade : Cross-Border Drug Trafficking in Southeast Asia and Beyond. NYU Press
  • Zhang, S. (2015). The Ethical Minefield in Human Trafficking Research—Real and Imagined (pp. 85-96). Springer
  • Salem, B.E., Nyamathi, A., Reback, C., Shoptaw, S., Zhang, S., Nudelman, O. (2015). Unmet Physical and Mental Healthcare Needs Among Stimulant-Using Gay and Bisexual Homeless Men. Issues in Mental Health Nursing, 36(9) 685-692.
  • Pitts, W.J., Barrick, K., Zhang, S., Lattimore, P.K. (2015). Estimating Labor Trafficking Among Farmworkers: An Inverse Sampling Strategy Based on Reliable Housing Predictions. Journal of Human Trafficking, 1(2) 117-135.
  • Zhang, S., Roberts, R.E., Farabee, D. (2014). An Analysis of Prisoner Reentry and Parole Risk Using Compas and Traditional Criminal History Measures. Crime & Delinquency, 60(2) 167 - 192.
  • Farabee, D., Zhang, S., Wright, B. (2014). An Experimental Evaluation of a Nationally Recognized Employment-Focused Offender Reentry Program. Journal of Experimental Criminology, 10(3) 309 - 322.
  • Nyamathi, A.M., Salem, B.E., Farabee, D., Hall, E., Zhang, S., Marfisee, M., Khalilifard, F., Musto, S., Faucette, M., Leake, B. (2014). Correlates of Heroin and Methamphetamine Use Among Homeless Male Ex-Jail and Prison Offenders. Addiction Research & Theory, 22(6) 463-473.
  • Zhang, S., Spiller, M.W., Finch, B.K., Qin, Y. (2014). Estimating Labor Trafficking Among Unauthorized Migrant Workers in San Diego. Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 653(1) 65 - 86.
  • Nyamathi, A., Salem, B., Farabee, D., Hall, E., Zhang, S., Khalilifard, F., Faucette, M., Leake, B. (2014). Predictors of High Level of Hostility Among Homeless Men on Parole. Journal of Offender Rehabilitation, 53(2) 95-115.
  • Wright, B.J., Zhang, S., Farabee, D., Braatz, R. (2014). Prisoner Reentry Research From 2000 to 2010: Results of a Narrative Review. Criminal Justice Review (Sage Publications), 39(1) 37-57.
  • Barrick, K., Lattimore, P.K., Pitts, W.J., Zhang, S. (2014). When Farmworkers and Advocates See Trafficking but Law Enforcement Does Not: Challenges in Identifying Labor Trafficking in North Carolina. Crime, Law and Social Change, 61(2) 205 - 214.
  • Zhang, S. (2013). A Bird’s Eye View on Chinese Organized Crime in North America. (pp. 277-282). Springer
  • Salem, B.E., Nyamathi, A., Keenan, C., Zhang, S., Marlow, E., Khalilifard, F., Yadav, K., Faucette, M., Leake, B., Marfisee, M. (2013). Correlates of Risky Alcohol and Methamphetamine Use Among Currently Homeless Male Parolees. Journal of Addictive Diseases, 32(4) 365-376.
  • Zhang, S. (2013). Snakeheads and the Cartwheel network—Functional Fluidity as Opposed to Structural Flexibility (pp. 116-139). Rutledge
  • Soudijn, M.R., Zhang, S. (2013). Taking Loan Sharking into Account: A Case Study of Chinese Vest-Pocket Lenders in Holland. Trends in Organized Crime, 16(1) 13 - 30.
  • Zhang, S., Roberts, R.E., Lansing, A.E. (2013). Treatment or Else: Coerced Treatment for Drug-Involved California Parolees. International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology, 57(7) 766 - 791.
  • Zhang, S., Nyamathi, A., Salem, B.E., Marlow, E., Yadav, K. (2013). Understanding Correlates of Hepatitis C Virus Infection Among Homeless Recently Paroled Men. Journal of Forensic Nursing, 9(3) 162-170.
  • Wright, B.J., Zhang, S., Farabee, D. (2012). A Squandered Opportunity?: A Review of Samhsa’s National Registry of Evidence-Based Programs and Practices for Offenders. Crime & Delinquency, 58(6) 954 - 972.
  • Zhang, S. (2012). Chinatown Tongs in America—Continuity and Opportunities (pp. 109-128). Springer
  • Nyamathi, A., Marlow, E., Zhang, S., Hall, E., Farabee, D., Marfisee, M., Khalilifard, F., Faucette, M., Leake, B. (2012). Correlates of Serious Violent Crime for Recently Released Parolees with a History of Homelessness. Violence and Victims, 27(5) 793 - 810.
  • Farabee, D., Zhang, S., Wright, B. (2012). Managing an On-The-Spot Lottery in Reentry Services. Journal of Experimental Criminology, 8(3) 241 - 253.
  • Zhang, S. (2012). Measuring Labor Trafficking: A Research Note. Crime, Law & Social Change, 58(4) 469-482.
  • Zhang, S., Pacheco-McEvoy, R., Campos, R. (2012). Sex Trafficking in Latin America: Dominant Discourse, Empirical Paucity, and Promising Research. 13(1) 22-41.
  • Farabee, D., Zhang, S., Yang, J. (2011). A Preliminary Examination of Offender Needs Assessment: Are All Those Questions Really Necessary? Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, 43(S1) 51-57.
  • Zhang, S., Chin, K. (2011). Ants Moving Houses-Cross-Border Drug Trafficking in the Golden Triangle (pp. 237-247).
  • Nyamathi, A., Leake, B., Albarran, C., Zhang, S., Hall, E., Farabee, D., Marlow, E., Marfisee, M., Khalilifard, F., Faucette, M. (2011). Correlates of Depressive Symptoms Among Homeless Men on Parole. Issues In Mental Health Nursing, 32(8) 501-511.
  • Zhang, S. (2011). Introduction to Special Topic in International Criminology (pp. 109-111).
  • Zhang, S., Smith, C. (2011). Progress of International Criminology (pp. 1-8). Routledge
  • Zhang, S. (2011). Sex Trafficking in a Border City: Stories from Tijuana, Mexico. (pp. 88-96). Institute for Security Studies
  • Zhang, S., Roberts, R.E., McCollister, K.E. (2011). Therapeutic Community in a California Prison: Treatment Outcomes After 5 Years. Crime & Delinquency, 57(1) 82 - 101.
  • Zhang, S. (2011). Woman Pullers: Pimping and Sex Trafficking in a Mexican Border City. Crime, Law & Social Change, 56(5) 509-528.
  • Zhang, S. (2010). Talking to Snakeheads: Methodological Considerations for Research on Chinese Human Smuggling. (pp. 184 - 204). Willan Publishing
  • Zhang, S., Roberts, R.E., McCollister, K.E. (2009). An Economic Analysis of the In-Prison Therapeutic Community Model on Prison Management Costs. Journal of Criminal Justice, 37(4) 388 - 395.
  • Zhang, S. (2009). Beyond the Natasha Story: A Review and Critique of Current Research on Sex Trafficking. 10(3) 178-195.
  • Zhang, S. (2008). Chinese Human Smuggling Organizations : Families, Social Networks, and Cultural Imperatives. Stanford University Press
  • Zhang, S., Pineda, S. (2008). Corruption as a Causal Factor in Human Trafficking (pp. 41-56). Springer
  • Winslow, R.W., Zhang, S. (2008). Criminology : A Global Perspective. Pearson/Prentice Hall
  • Zhang, S. (2007). Smuggling and Trafficking in Human Beings : All Roads Lead to America. Praeger/Greenwood
  • Zhang, S., Roberts, R.E., Callanan, V.J. (2006). Preventing Parolees From Returning to Prison Through Community-Based Reintegration. Crime & Delinquency, 52(4) 551 - 571.
  • Zhang, S., Roberts, R.E., Callanan, V.J. (2006). The Cost Benefits of Providing Community-Based Correctional Services: An Evaluation of a Statewide Parole Program in California. Journal of Criminal Justice, 34(4) 341 - 350.
  • Zhang, S., Zhang, L. (2005). Experimental Study of the Los Angeles County Repeat Offender Prevention Program: Its Implementation and Evaluation. Criminology & Public Policy, 4(2) 205 - 236.
  • Zhang, S., Zhang, L. (2004). Reintegrative Shaming and Delinquency (41:4 pp. 433-453). Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency
  • Zhang, S., Chin, K. (2003). The Declining Significance of Triad Societies in Transnational Illegal Activities—A Structural Deficiency Perspective (43:3 pp. 469-488). British Journal of Criminology
  • Zhang, S., Chin, K. (2002). Enter the Dragon—Inside Chinese Human Smuggling Organizations (40:4). Criminology
  • Zhang, S. (2002). Family, Culture, and Control of the Delinquent Chinese Boy in America (pp. 239-259).
  • Zhang, S., Chin, K. (2002). Snakeheads: Chinese human Trafficking Organizations (pp. 383-385).
  • Zhang, S. (2001). Chinese Gangs—Familial and Cultural Dynamics (pp. 219-236). Sage
  • Zhang, S., Chin, K. (2001). Chinese Human Smuggling in the United States of America (1:2 pp. 31-52). Forum on Crime and Society
  • Zhang, S., Benson, T., Deng, X. (2000). A Test and Re-Test of the International Self-Report Delinquency instrument (28: pp. 283-295). Journal of Criminal Justice
  • Zhang, S. (1999). Electronic Monitoring in Los Angeles County—A Case of Public-Private Partnership in Community Corrections. (pp. 108-121).
  • Zhang, S., (1998). In Search of Hopeful Glimpses--A Critique of Research Strategies in Current Boot Camp Evaluations. (44:2 pp. 314-334). Crime and Delinquency
  • Chin, K., Zhang, S. (1998). Transnational Chinese Organized Crime Activities (4:3 & 4 pp. 127-154). Transnational Organized Crime
  • Zhang, S., Benson, T. (1997). Cost-Effectiveness, Accountability, and Officer Morale—An Evaluation of a Personalized Patrol Vehicle Program (30:4 pp. 749-765). Policing: An International Journal of Police Strategies and Management
  • Zhang, S., (1997). Task Force Orientation and Dyadic Relations in Organized Chinese Alien Smuggling (13:4 pp. 320-330). Journal of Contemporary Criminal Justice
  • Zhang, S., Gaylord, M. (1996). In Search of the Gold Mountain— Organizational and Operational Patterns of Chinese Alien Smuggling (25:1 pp. 1-16). Crime, Law and Social Change
  • Zhang, S. (1996). The Efficiency of Working under One Roof—An Evaluation of Los Angeles County Juvenile Justice Centers ( 42:2 pp. 257-268). Crime and Delinquency
  • Zhang, S. (1995). Measuring Shaming in an Ethnic Context. British Journal of Criminology, 35(2) 248 - 262.
  • Zhang, S. (1995). Street Crime and Informal Social Control in an Anomic China (1:1 pp. 73-100). Chinese Journal of Political Sciences
  • Zhang, S., Polakow, R., Nidorf, B. (1994). Varied Uses of Electronic Monitoring: The Los Angeles Experience (pp. 3-20).
  • Junger-Tas, J., Klein, M., Zhang, S., (1992). Problems and Dilemmas in Comparative Self-Report Delinquency Research (pp. 83-103). British Society of Criminology

Research Currently in Progress

  • Measuring modern slavery in the Indian state of Bihar

    <b> </b><b> </b>Sheldon Zhang and others: $617,000, Freedom Fund. This project consisted of three parts: (1) Prevalence estimation of the worst forms of child labor in Bihar (a peer-reviewed journal paper can be found here); (2) Prevalence estimation of bonded labor in Bihar; and Prevalence estimation of sex trafficking in Bihar’s sex work industry (a peer-reviewed journal paper can be found here).
    Zhang, S. (Principal) (University of Massachusetts Lowell), Dank, M. (Co-Principal) (John Jay College of Criminal Justice), Vincent, K. (Co-Principal)