My research is devoted to an examination of human rights, citizenship, as well as macro-level inequality with a sharp focus on prisons and prisoners as objects of both legal and social negotiation and conflict. My dissertation work examines the culture of prison workers, by visiting and conducting interviews in every state prison in the state of Kentucky, in order to more fully understand the labor power required to make mass or hyper-incarceration efficient. What does it mean to do this work? What kind of consciousness is required to motivate prison work into a career? Considering the vast damages inherent in our criminal justice system – damages that have been edging ever nearer to mainstream consciousness and discourse in the United States – why do so many remain willing to assist the state in punishing fellow citizens?
I’m a PhD Candidate in the Department of Sociology, a Rackham Merit Fellow, and a Population Studies Center Trainee at the University of Michigan, a Visiting Scholar at the Center for the Study of Law & Society at UC Berkeley School of Law (2013-2016), as well as a 2015-2016 Mellon American Council of Learned Societies Fellow for my dissertation titled “Mass Incarceration, the Profession of Corrections, and the Ways Prison Workers Construct Meanings about Their Participation in Our Punishment State.” This year, I am honored to receive the 2015 American Sociological Association Section on Sexualities Best Graduate Student Paper Award, as well as the 2015 Society for the Study of Social Problems Division on Crime and Juvenile Delinquency Best Graduate Student Paper Award Honorable Mention for my paper titled “A New Iron Closet: Failing to Extend the Spirit of Lawrence vs. Texas to Prisons and Prisoners” forthcoming in The War on Sex. D. Halperin and T. Hoppe (Eds). Duke University Press.
I received my BA in Sociology, Summa cum Laude, from DePaul University in 2010 and my MA in Sociology from the University of Michigan in 2012. I am honored to have been elected by my peers as the Chair of the Society for the Study of Social Problem’s Division on Law and Society for 2014-2016.
My work is driven by years of experience living in neighborhoods under high surveillance as well as extreme police violence, in Los Angeles and Chicago, as well as seven years spent as a prisoner in California, Minnesota and Illinois.
For some of my personal prison story, you can watch my appearance on LiveLaw4 “Life of the Law” titled “Hangin’ by the Telephone”, here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TqsDHKuQ46o
In my personal time, I volunteer with the Alliance for Change here in the Bay Area, on social justice efforts with prisoners, teaching at San Quentin State Prison. I also do research with the American Friends Service Committee Michigan Criminal Justice Office in order to ensure improved conditions of confinement for Michigan prisoners and prisoners nationwide.
When I can, I very enjoy travelling to new, exciting, and far-flung places. I enjoy snorkeling and diving, beaches, downhill skilling as well as all the fun activities in the Bay Area.