Natalie Pifer, J.D./Ph.D.

I'm an Associate Professor and the Chair (effective July 1, 2024) of the Criminology and Criminal Justice Department at the University of Rhode Island, where I focus my research and teaching on U.S. punishment (broadly defined) policy & practice. 

I'm a sociolegal scholar who is specifically informed by scholarship on law & society and punishment & social control. As an interdisciplinary social scientist, I'm active in both the American Society of Criminology and the Law & Society Association (where I co-organize the Punishment and Society  Collaborative Research Network).

My research analyzes the causes and consequences of penal changes, especially those organized under the banner of ostensibly progressive reforms to controversial criminal justice practices. I study substantive areas like policing, solitary confinement, and reentry, under the shared concern for how punishment, incarceration, and policing policies are implemented and experienced on the ground.

Right now, I am primarily writing about the hybridization of care and control in managing marginalized groups and about the experiences of people living and working in long-term solitary confinement units.

I'm also working on three new multi-year collaborative projects:
1) evaluating how initiatives created through Amend's partnership with the Washington Department of Corrections are implemented and experienced by people living and working in Washington State prison facilities; 
2) evaluating a Second Chance Act-funded pre-release career readiness program that is designed to help  incarcerated people pursue careers in the construction industry when they return to the community; and
3) evaluating a pre-release "Fast Track to Manufacturing" program that is designed to help  incarcerated people earn college credits and a be ready for a position as a CNC Operator, quality control person, or entry-level machinist when they return to community.

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