Parole and post-release supervision
Legitimization of correctional systems
My research interest lies at the intersection of law and society and correctional structures. Utilizing textual analysis and visual sociological/criminological methods, my first major project focused on the role of rehabilitation as a goal of the parole system (and corrections more broadly). My second major project will focus on the ways in which various actors legitimize correctional structures. Finally, my third major project will focus on the look and feel of correctional spaces. When I was hired, I was asked to strengthen the criminal justice concentration while also adding to the existing sociology concentration. All three of my research foci fall with my goals for expanding the criminology and criminal justice concentration within the Department of Sociology and Anthropology. My research interests bridge both of these areas of inquiry and not only inform my classroom, but also add to the criminological and sociological understandings of rehabilitation, punishment, and correctional systems.
Currently, I am working on a book manuscript which questions what rehabilitation is by investigating how, at different moments in time, its conceptualization has shaped, and been shaped by, shifting norms, practices, and institutions of corrections in California. A second project examines California’s move to place a greater emphasis on rehabilitation within its correctional system. Through this examination, I query whether and how the recent turn to “smart on crime” discourse impacts legislative conversations and argue that the discourse is used to legislatively reframe and further legitimize existing forms of punishment rather than shift away from incarceration.
While my research aims to push criminological inquiry in new directions, it also serves my students. As a teacher-scholar, I bring my research into the classroom through class discussions. For instance, when discussing theories of rehabilitation, I incorporate my own arguments along with those of Hutchinson and Robinson to help students see how different scholars can interpret the same concept. My work on the discourse and representation of correctional systems helps expand in-class conversations on how crime is socially and politically constructed. Finally, my research experience translates into support for student-led research projects, particularly those using semi-structured interviews, textual analysis, or visual analysis. My own experience enables me to guide students through the research project, help them address concerns or issues that arise, and expand the ways in which they are able to address their research question. As my future research projects suggest, there is also much room to include students as part of these projects, which will also provide an avenue by which to provide undergraduate students hands on research experience.