Dr. McCorkel is Professor of Sociology and Criminology and a faculty associate of the Africana Studies Program at Villanova University. During Fall 2017, she was a visiting scholar at the Institute of Criminology in the Sutherland School of Law at University College Dublin (Ireland).
Dr. McCorkel earned her Ph.D. and M.A. degrees in Sociology from the University of Delaware. She graduated magna cum laude from Bucknell University with a B.A. in Sociology and Political Science. At the University of Delaware, she worked as the lead ethnographer for the Center for Drug & Alcohol Studies on several projects funded by the National Institute of Drug Abuse, including research on prison-based drug treatment programs, prisoner reentry, and street-level drug trafficking.
Dr. McCorkel’s research investigates the social and political consequences of mass incarceration in the United States. She focuses primarily on how law and systems of punishment perpetuate race, class, and gender-based inequities. Her articles appear in a variety of scientific outlets including Social Problems, Punishment & Society, Social Politics, Qualitative Sociology, Studies in Law, Politics & Society, Feminist Criminology, and Journal of Contemporary Drug Problems. Her first book, Breaking Women: Gender, Race, and the New Politics of Imprisonment (NYU Press), explored the impact of the War on Drugs and “get tough” carceral policies for women prisoners. It was selected by the Society for the Study of Social Problems as a finalist for the prestigious C. Wright Mills Award. In 2014, Dr. McCorkel received the Distinguished Scholar Award from the American Society of Criminology Division of Women and Crime for her research. In 2019, Dr. McCorkel received the Mid-Career Scholar Award from Villanova University.
She is currently writing a second book (with Brittnie Aiello) on parental incarceration. They argue that for many children with an incarcerated parent, prisons and jails have become increasingly prominent sites of childhood socialization and development. Their book explores what children learn about themselves, their families, and the world at large as they navigate carceral spaces and relationships.
In 2017, Dr. McCorkel was a campaign advisor to Larry Krasner during his successful run for District Attorney of Philadelphia. She currently serves on the advisory board of Villanova’s undergraduate degree program at SCI-Phoenix (formerly Graterford), the largest maximum security prison in Pennsylvania, and she offers undergraduate courses in the prison. She serves as a consultant on wrongful conviction cases and petitions for commutation and parole. Dr. McCorkel is currently doing advocacy work on behalf of Cynthia Alvarado and Marie Scott–two women who were wrongly sentenced to life without the possibility of parole in Pennsylvania.
On campus, Dr. McCorkel teaches courses in the Sociology of Law, the Sociology of Punishment, Introduction to Sociology, and GWS seminar, “#SayHerName: Gender, Race, and Social Justice.” She has been a semi-finalist for the University’s Lindback Teaching Award and, in 2013, was selected by the senior class to give Villanova University’s “Last Lecture.”