Professional Obituary for Marvin Davis Free, Jr.

Written by Ron Berger
Professor Emeritus of Sociology and Criminology, UW-Whitewater

          Marvin Davis Free, Jr., professor emeritus of sociology and criminology at the
University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, passed away on July 13, 2019, after a stoic
battle with cancer. He is survived by his wife, Sandra, and sons, Jonathan and
           Marvin, who received his PhD. in sociology from the University of Denver, was
a well-liked and highly respected friend and colleague, a popular teacher, and a
prodigious researcher. His passion, which reflected his core values, was racial             
Prof. Emeritus Marvin Davis Free, Jr.
justice; and the research topic of his choice was racial disparities in the criminal
justice system. This research resulted in the publication of five books and numerous articles. Beginning with African Americans and the Criminal Justice System and the edited anthology Racial Issues in Criminal Justice: The Case of African Americans, Marvin went on to publish groundbreaking books on the problem of wrongful convictions: Race and Justice: Wrongful Convictions of African American Men, co-authored with Mitch Ruesink, which was selected by Choice as an “Outstanding Academic Title,” and Wrongful Convictions of Women: When Innocence Isn’t Enough, also with Ruesink. Marvin was also co-author of the introductory criminology book, Crime, Justice, and Society, currently in its fourth edition.
          Marvin’s many research articles were published in journals such as Criminal Justice Review, Deviant Behavior, Journal of Black Studies, Journal of Criminal Justice, Journal of Ethnicity in Criminal Justice, Women and Criminal Justice, and Youth and Society. Additionally, he was an invited contributor to the Encyclopedia of Violence, Peace, and Conflict, and an invited contributor and editorial board member of the Encyclopedia of Race and Crime.
          Marvin was a recipient of UW-Whitewater’s “Outstanding Research Award” and the Wisconsin Sociological Association’s William H. Sewell “Outstanding Scholarship Award.”
He served as editor of Sociological Imagination (the WSA journal);
on the editorial board of Contemporary Justice Review; as
secretary, vice president, and president of the Midwestern
Criminal Justice Association; and as a regular reviewer for
professional journals.
          Marvin was a devoted husband and father. An active
volunteer and leader in Boy Scouts, he never missed a school or
sporting event in which his sons’ participated. He was a model
train enthusiast, and in his retirement traveled with his beloved
dog, Abby, visiting nursing homes, group homes, day care centers,
and public libraries. Marvin and Abby also competed in American
Kennel Club Obedience and Rally events, winning many first place
ribbons. He will be missed but remembered fondly.                             
Prof. Free receiving 2013 WSA award for scholarship


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