University of California, Davis
PhD, Sociology, ABD
MA, Sociology, 2015
University of Minnesota, Twin Cities
Graduate Certificate in Addiction Studies/Public Health, 2014
Hamline University, St Paul
BA, Communication Studies, 2011
Normandale Community College, Bloomington, MN
AA, Liberal Education, 2009
The Age of Mass Incarceration:
The Entrenchment of the Carceral State in Our Communities
Keywords: aging, life course, reentry, mass incarceration, collateral consequences, health, inequality, dignity
My dissertation research examines the reentry process of formerly incarcerated people age 50 or older, focusing on factors related to long-term and late-life criminal justice contact. Most research on the reentry process focuses on younger people, it often conflates recidivism and reoffending, and it often focuses on individuals to the neglect of systemic factors that drive repeated returns to jail and/or prison. This limits our understanding of the factors driving both short- and long-term patterns of crime and punishment. I use official incarceration data from the National Corrections Reporting Program and qualitative data collected using participant observation and interviewing in Northern California to better understand how factors like important life events, stigma, the organization of social control systems, and the availability of community resources influence post-release outcomes and experiences.
In short, my findings point to ways in which mass incarceration and the wars on drugs and crime that fuel it are far from over.
Sin, Suffering, and the American Dream: Meaning and Opportunity in Evangelical Drug Rehab
Keywords: addiction, treatment, neoliberal social services, conversion, identity, recovery narratives
Conversion-based drug treatment has grown more prevalent since Charitable Choice opened the door to government funding of faith-based social services, now receiving unprecedented support and legitimacy within government, the media, and the public. Interactionist addiction scholarship suggests such programs might “work” by providing clients with a recovery narrative, allowing them to construct destigmatized recovery identities. We thicken this idea through our case study of Victory Center, a residential rehab and prison diversion program with close ties to the state. Using ethnography and interviewing, we show how radical identity reconstruction is instilled discursively within the context of firm institutional control and highly routinized, disciplined practice over the course of a year or more.
Risk, Need, and Interinstitutionality: Explaining Pernicious Inequality in American Public Institutions
Keywords: school-to-prison pipeline, venue sorting, decision making, criminal risk assessment, racial disparities, juvenile incarceration, decision-making,
Most social problems transcend institutional boundaries, obfuscating their origins and impeding efforts to solve them. This conceptual paper adds to a growing body of theorizing and research that underscores the need for analyses that look “beyond the walls” of organizations and institutions to see the ways exogenous forces shape micro-interactional and meso-level processes. Drawing primarily on socio-legal and neoinstitutionalist literatures, I argue that formal and informal links that allow resources, ideas, and cases to flow between organizations in separate institutions represent understudied pathways by which experiences and outcomes are produced, shaped, and sustained across life domains. I illustrate this phenomenon, which I call “interinstitutionality,” with an examination of linked inequality in the education and juvenile justice systems.
In a companion paper, I test these ideas empirically. Research on social problems is often designed around logics and data that impede understanding of causal mechanisms that transcend institutional boundaries. Against this trend, I investigate linked inequality in the education and justice systems, conducting logistic regression and mediation analyses of survey data collected from public schools, alternative schools, and juvenile correctional facilities in order to better understand the factors that help explain why some children are sorted out of mainstream public schools. Framing my analyses around variables commonly used by both education and justice officials to inform sorting decisions, results indicate that material needs are more salient than "criminogenic risk" for understanding both sorting patterns and widespread inequities in the education and justice system. These findings have important implications for both research and policy.
We Are All Students
Keywords: public scholarship, digital humanities, incarceration, education, storytelling, community, democracy
We Are All Students (WAAS) is a public scholarship project that aims to: 1) inform the public about the interests and experiences of formerly incarcerated and other “system impacted” students whose lives, families, and communities have been affected by incarceration, deportation, or other forms of legal discrimination, 2) transform disparaging and false narratives about us and our communities into more empowering and accurate ones, and 3) help reform unjust education and incarceration policies and practices. As a “new media” organization, WAAS combines creative photography and storytelling with recent social scientific research and insights from the digital humanities. Currently, we are working on a social media campaign that conveys the social situations and experiences of those who attend higher education in the shadow of incarceration. We are also producing informational material about attending college with a felony conviction to help foster a “prison to school pipeline.” Read more about WAAS and its funder, the Mellon Public Scholars Program, here.
"Settle your quarrels, come together, understand the reality of our situation, understand that fascism is already here, that people are already dying who could be saved, that generations more will die or live poor butchered half lives if you fail to act. Do what must be done, discover your humanity and your love in revolution. Pass on the torch. Join us. Give up your life for the people.” -George Jackson, Blood in My Eye
Sociological analysis of criminal behavior in relation to social structure and the criminalization process.
Law considered as social control; relation of legal institutions to society as affecting judicial decision making and administration of justice. Lawyers as an occupational group. Legal reform.
How systems of social inequality organize the practice of violence. Definitions of violence and issues affecting the social capacity for violence. Analysis and comparison of different forms of violence associated with race, class, gender relations and social organization.
Interdisciplinary, multimedia exploration of the most important social problems of our time.