Dr. Cleary's work applies principles of adolescent development to juvenile and criminal justice system contexts, including youths' interactions with police, courts and correctional systems. Her research examines how youth and families understand and navigate legal processes and engage in legal decision making. Much of her work focuses on police interrogation of adolescents, including police use of coercion and the role of parents in the interrogation process. Dr. Cleary also studies adolescent sexual offending as well as juvenile justice policy and practice. Her work emphasizes the role of community partnerships in conducting research aimed at improving justice outcomes for youth and their families.