My research explores the social and political impact of mass incarceration on men and women who are serving time, their families and communities, as well as on prisons themselves. Prisons and jails are among the most hidden of our public institutions. In spite of a great deal of research mapping our increasing reliance on incarceration as a punishment and the social and economic costs of doing so, we still know relatively little about what happens inside the “black box” that is the penal system. For this reason, I have spent most of my research career investigating these issues ethnographically, doing participant observation and interviews inside men’s and women’s prisons in order to understand the forms that punishment and resistance take and the implications of each. As a sociologist, I am particularly concerned with the relationship between punishment and social inequality, and much of my work analyzes how penal regimes exacerbate race, class, and gender inequalities and undermine democratic ideals.
Listed below are my current research projects. Each are at different stages of development and completion. Click the link to learn more.