Ericka Adams

Assistant Professor

Justice Studies

Current Research Activities

At present, I am working on several research projects centered on criminal record clearance and crime in Trinidad and Tobago. I present the research questions for two of my projects below.

My research project entitled “The Impact of Automated Record Clearance on Individuals, Families, and Communities: A Qualitative Inquiry” asks the following research questions: (1) What are the perceived and actual, intended or unintended effects of criminal record clearance on people’s lives? (2) To what extent do results vary when criminal record clearance is automatic vs. petition-based? (3) What are the effects of criminal record clearance on families and communities?

One of my research projects on crime in Trinidad and Tobago is entitled “Residents’ Intervention in Gang-Related Homicides.” The overarching research questions for this project are: (1) What strategies do residents in urban communities employ to intervene in gang related homicides? (2) What personal characteristics enable residents to successfully intervene in violent incidents in their communities? 

Research Connections to Current Events

Having a criminal record decreases peoples’ opportunities for employment, subsidized housing, etc. Research indicates that petition-based record clearance reduces some of the consequences of a criminal record. However, there is limited knowledge on the benefits of automated criminal record clearance. I am the Co-PI of a study that will investigate the perceived and actual impact of automated record clearance on individuals, families, and communities. As automatic record clearance legislation is adopted and implemented in some states, empirical evidence of the benefits and limitations of this policy can encourage adoption in additional jurisdictions and guide improvements where necessary.

In 2019, the murder rate in Trinidad and Tobago (T&T) was 44.9 per 100,000 with approximately 60 percent of homicides attributed to gang violence. Unfortunately, the criminal justice system in the nation has been largely unsuccessful in addressing gang related violence. I am writing a peer-reviewed journal article that will analyze community members’ use of informal social control to intervene in gang related homicide. This paper will contribute to the literature on developing strategies to combat gang-related violence in a high crime society.

Personal Connections to Research

I grew up in a working class community in Trinidad and Tobago. Life growing up in the Caribbean was amazing. I remember picking mangoes, plums, and passion fruit for midday snacks and trying to catch wabeens (fresh-water fish) in the river behind my grandmother’s house with my cousins. As the decades passed, my country of birth became gravely impacted by gang conflict and gun violence. In 2019, the murder rate in Trinidad and Tobago is 44.9 per 100,000. Comparatively, in 2018, the murder rate in San José, California was 2.67 per 100,000. I became a criminologist to produce and disseminate knowledge on the impact of crime on communities in the Caribbean and the United States, and to create initiatives to decrease the impact of crime on people’s lived experiences.

Social Media

Google Scholar


1st Area: Caribbean Criminology, Trinidad and Tobago, Gang Violence, Street Crime; 2nd Area: Automated Record Clearance, Expungement, Criminal Record