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Webinar Science and Life

The science of incarceration: A realistic look at the cost of imprisonment

This webinar is brought to you by the Science/AAAS Custom Publishing Office

The science of incarceration: A realistic look at the cost of imprisonment

Recorded 04 December 2019


When a person commits a crime and is incarcerated, they are displaced to an environment that in theory should be designed to effect long-lasting behavioral change whereby criminality does not recur. But is this the reality? When a human being is forcibly detained, what are the impacts on their behavioral and mental health, their physiology and neurochemistry? What can we learn from the science of incarceration that better informs us about crime prevention and recidivism reduction? What can studies on incarceration teach us about how people respond to their environments, good or bad? In this webinar, the expert panel will tackle these difficult issues that compel us to examine how society’s need for redress can be balanced with our moral obligation to treat all human beings with respect and dignity.

This webinar will last for approximately 60 minutes.

Speaker bios

Nazgol Ghandnoosh, Ph.D.

The Sentencing Project
Washington, D.C.

Dr. Ghandnoosh is a senior research analyst with The Sentencing Project. She conducts and synthesizes research on criminal justice policies and has written about racial disparities in the justice system, public opinion about punishment, and the scope of reform efforts. Her report The Next Step: Ending Excessive Punishment for Violent Crimes examines how states have begun scaling back excessive penalties for violent crimes. She regularly presents to academic, practitioner, and general audiences, and her work has been featured in outlets including The Washington Post, The New York Times, and WNYC’s On the Media. Dr. Ghandnoosh earned an undergraduate degree from the University of Pennsylvania and a doctorate in sociology from the University of California, Los Angeles. Her dissertation, “Challenging Mass Incarceration: A California Group’s Advocacy for the Parole Release of Term-to-Life Prisoners,” was an in-depth study of a South Los Angeles–based group challenging severe sentences.

Catherine Heard

Institute for Crime & Justice Policy Research
London, U.K

Ms. Heard is a senior research fellow at the Institute for Crime & Justice Policy Research (ICPR), based at Birkbeck, University of London. At ICPR, Heard directs the World Prison Research Programme. This program of international comparative research on prisons and imprisonment builds on the work of the World Prison Brief, ICPR’s online database providing details of the prison systems of over 220 independent countries and dependent territories. She is a qualified solicitor and worked in commercial litigation for several years before moving into the field of human rights protection in cross-border criminal justice in 2008. As head of policy at the NGO Fair Trials, she led the law reform program for four years. This program encompassed policy-oriented research and advocacy on extradition, procedural defense safeguards, pretrial detention, and Interpol Red Notices. In 2013, Heard joined the criminal team of the Law Commission of England and Wales, where she led an 18-month project on the prosecution and sentencing of hate crimes. Between 2014 and 2016, she worked at the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies, the United Kingdom partner of the European Prison Observatory. There she led a European Union–funded project examining alternatives to custody in eight EU member states.

Jeffrey D. Morenoff, Ph.D.

University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, MI

Dr. Morenoff is a professor in the Department of Sociology, the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy, and the Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan (U-M). He is also the director of the Population Studies Center at U-M and serves as an officer for the Association of Population Centers. In 2014, he was recognized in Thomson Reuters’ list of Highly Cited Researchers, a distinction given to researchers whose work has been officially designated by Essential Science Indicators as ranking among the top 1% most cited for their subject field and year of publication. He has conducted extensive research on the consequences of incarceration and the pathways to reentry from prison back into society. In his new coauthored book, On the Outside: Prisoner Reentry and Reintegration, Dr. Morenoff and colleagues combine evidence compiled from administrative data with in-depth interviews and longitudinal tracking of a sample of individuals as they progressed through the reintegration process. The book illustrates how family ties, administrative burden (including fees associated with parole and minor infractions), and housing and economic instability exert pressures that can help or hinder efforts to reintegrate.

Sean Sanders, Ph.D.

Washington, DC

Dr. Sanders did his undergraduate training at the University of Cape Town, South Africa, and his Ph.D. at the University of Cambridge, UK, supported by the Wellcome Trust. Following postdoctoral training at the National Institutes of Health and Georgetown University, Dr. Sanders joined TranXenoGen, a startup biotechnology company in Massachusetts working on avian transgenics. Pursuing his parallel passion for writing and editing, Dr. Sanders joined BioTechniques as an editor, before joining Science/AAAS in 2006. Currently, Dr. Sanders is the Director and Senior Editor for Custom Publishing for the journal Science and Program Director for Outreach.

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