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punishment, prisons, and policing 


I have been an Assistant Professor of Criminology and Criminal Justice at the University of Rhode Island since 2017. 

My research focuses on criminal justice policy, practice, and reform. I am especially interested in analyzing what factors facilitate or frustrate ostensibly progressive reforms and what those answers can reveal about society.  My work looks at these questions in the context of policing (e.g. specialty units focused on mental illness),  punishment (e.g. the death penalty), and prisons (e.g. solitary confinement). As a J.D./Ph.D., my work utilizes both legal analysis and empirical social science methods to study the possibilities and realities of law and policy. Disciplinary, I situate my scholarship in criminological, sociolegal, and public health conversations.   

Recent Publications


Window dressing: possibilities and limitations of incremental changes in solitary confinement


Dallas Augustine, Melissa Barragan, Kelsie Chesnut, Natalie A Pifer, Keramet Reiter, Justin D Strong


Health & Justice, BioMed Central, 2021, pp. 1--13


Review 2:" Prisons and Pandemics"


Natalie Pifer


Rapid Reviews COVID-19, PubPub, 2020


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