Christian L. Bolden

Associate Professor of Criminology and Justice, Loyola University New Orleans
Chapter Member: New Orleans SSN

About Christian

Christian Bolden earned his Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of Central Florida and Masters in Sociology from Texas State University-San Marcos. His areas of research include gang histories and processes, mass incarceration, and human trafficking. His recent book Out of the Red: My Life of Gangs, Prison, and Redemption received the 2020 Frank Tannenbaum Outstanding Book Award from the American Society of Criminology’s Division of Convict Criminology, and resulted in the 20-21 Loyola Faculty Senate Award for Research. In 2012-2013, Dr. Bolden was the “Futurist in Residence” research fellow for the FBI’s Behavioral Science Unit.


A Study of Trafficking and Exploitative Labor among Homeless Youth in New Orleans

  • Laura Murphy
  • Rae Taylor

Urban Gangs Today - Myths and Realities

In the News

Interviewed in "From Gang Member to PhD: Defying the Odds," The Crime Report, November 4, 2020.
Guest on The Reading Life/ WWNO 89.9, October 2, 2020.
Research discussed by Peter Finney Jr., in "Mr. Holland’s Masterpiece: Resurrecting a Life," Clarion Herald, August 25, 2020.
Interviewed in "Tommy: Why do some break bad?," WWL First News AM 870 FM 105.3, August 18, 2020.
Research discussed by Emily Lane, in "For New Orleans Gangs, It's Kill or be Killed, No Matter the Collateral Cost," The Times-Picayune, October 9, 2018.
Guest on The Street Report, 2017.
Research discussed by Rebecca Catalanello, in "Human Trafficking Victims among Those Seeking Help at Covenant House, Loyola Report Says," Times-Picayune, March 11, 2015.
Quoted by Kevin Ryan in "Homeless Teens at Greater Risk of Sex Trafficking," CNBC, March 10, 2015.


"Out of the Red: My Life of Gangs, Prison, and Redemption" (Rutgers University Press, 2020).

Illustrates the pathbreaking story of how social forces and personal choices combined to deliver an unfortunate fate.

"Social Networks in Gangs" (with Reneé Lamphere). Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Criminology and Criminal Justice. (2019).
"Gang Organization and Gang Types" in Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Criminology and Criminal Justice, edited by Henry Pontell (Oxford University, 2018).

Describes the spectrum of gang organization, typology, and affiliation in the United States.

"Trafficking and Exploitative Labor among Homeless Youth in New Orleans," (with Laura Murphy and Rae Taylor), Modern Slavery Research Project, Loyola University New Orleans, March 2015.

Studies the prevalence of trafficking among homeless and marginally-housed youth in New Orleans, Louisiana.

"Friendly Foes: Hybrid Gangs or Social Networking" Group Processes & Intergroup Relations 17, no. 6 (2014): 730-749.

Analyzes differences between traditional and hybrid gangs. Uses a social networking lens to analyze relations between members of rival gangs, and finds routine cooperation as a common feature in the gang landscape.

"Maras: Central American Youth Gangs" in Encyclopedia of Theoretical Criminology, edited by J. Mitch Miller (Wiley-Blackwell, 2014).

Explores the origin, social processes, and extent of criminal activity in the MS-13 and 18th Street gangs.

"Gangs and Social Networks" in Encyclopedia of Criminology and Criminal Justice, edited by G. Bruinsma and D. Weisburd (Springer, 2014).

Debates the idea of gangs as social networks with the traditional viewpoints of organization. Examines the current state of knowledge of gangs as social networks.

"Tales from the Hood: An Emic Perspective on Gang Joining and Gang Desistance" Criminal Justice Review 38, no. 4 (2013): 473-490.

Examines how people enter and exit gangs. Finds that violent gang initiation is not the only method of entrance, and that exiting gangs is common but success is tied to geographic separation and alternative support systems.

"Terrorism, Gangs, and Weapons of Mass Destruction: A Futures Assessment of a Potential Nexus," (with Darrell Dones and Michael Buerger), Futures Working Group, November 2013.

Reports on a meeting of 40 experts (researchers and law enforcement) to examine the likelihood of gangs and terrorists working together to deploy weapons of mass destruction. The report explains potential scenarios, historical precedents, and why the events have not occurred.

"Race, Ethnicity, and Criminal Justice" in Race, Gender, and Criminal Justice: Equality and Justice for All?, edited by Danielle McDonald and Alexis Miller (Cognella Academic Publishing, 2012).
Historically assesses the concepts of race and ethnicity in the United States in relation to the criminal justice system. Compares the concepts of race and ethnicity in the United States with related ideas in other countries.
"Liquid Soldiers: Fluidity and Gang Membership" Deviant Behavior 33, no. 3 (2012): 207-222.
Explores the relative ease in which gang members switched gangs and left gangs using interviews with former gang members in San Antonio, Texas.
"Charismatic Role Theory: Towards a Theory of Gang Dissipation" The Journal of Gang Research 17, no. 4 (2010): 39-70.
Uses a theoretical perspective on removing charismatic core gang members to discuss how gangs dissipate or perpetuate.