Henry H. Brownstein is a Senior Fellow in the Substance Abuse, Mental Health, and Criminal Justice Studies department (SAMHCJ) at NORC at the University of Chicago. Prior to becoming a Senior Fellow he was Senior Vice President and Director of the department. Previous positions include: director of the Center on Crime, Drugs and Justice at Abt Associates; director of the Drugs and Crime Research Division at the National Institute of Justice (NIJ); Professor and director of the Graduate Program in Criminal Justice at the University of Baltimore; chief of statistical services at the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS); and principal investigator at National Development and Research Institutes, Inc. (NDRI).
Brownstein is the Principal Investigator on a study of the Dynamics of Methamphetamine Markets funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). This three-stage study of the organization and operation of illicit retail methamphetamine markets is part of a joint initiative of NIDA and NIJ. The first stage involved a survey of police agencies across the U.S. to obtain basic information about meth market participation. The second stage used the responses from the first stage to select 50 jurisdictions where narcotics police were most knowledgeable about the meth trade in their area and expressed interest in discussing the local meth situation with researchers. Open-ended, web-based interviews using geo-coded maps were conducted with respondents in these jurisdictions. The final stage includes site visits to regions where there are active meth markets to observe and interview local participants (users, dealers) and stakeholders (law enforcement, treatment and prevention workers). He is also a Senior Advisor on various other research projects at NORC.
As division director at NIJ, Brownstein was responsible for managing a department of social scientists and program managers as well as developing and advancing the national agenda for drugs and crime research. In that role he was also the executive director of the Arrestee Drug Abuse Monitoring (ADAM) program, which collected interview and urine test data from arrestees in 35 counties around the United States. As a principal investigator for NDRI in New York City for 15 years, while also working first at DCJS and then the University of Baltimore, Brownstein conducted studies of the relationship between drugs and violence funded mostly by the NIDA. This work included interviews with thousands of imprisoned men and women as well as youth in custody. In his capacity as chief of statistical services for DCJS he served as the director of the New York State Statistical Analysis Center (SAC). In that role he was responsible for two divisions with a staff of managers, researchers and statisticians, programmers, and data collectors. One division designed, developed, maintained, managed, and operated a variety of criminal justice databases and statistical reporting programs with data collected from local agencies throughout the state. The other division produced official statistical reports on crime and justice in New York and responded to statistical and policy analytic questions that could be addressed using the data maintained by the office. Recently, Brownstein was voted Chair of Sociological Practice and Public Sociology in the American Sociological Association's 2011 section election.
Brownstein has published dozens of articles and book chapters on topics including drugs and violence, drug markets, crime statistics, qualitative research methods, and the relationship between research and policy. He is co-editor of Violence: From Theory to Research (2004), and his books include The Problems of Living in Society (2003) and The Social Reality of Violence and Violent Crime (2000). He has served as president of the Association for Humanist Sociology and chair of the Section on Alcohol, Drugs and Tobacco of the American Sociological Association. He has served as a member of various committees of the Society for the Study of Social Problems, the American Society of Criminology, the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences, and other professional associations, as well as on the editorial boards of various professional journals.