Research and Teaching

I am honored that  NARSOL recognized me with their 2022 Braveheart Award, given to researchers outside of their organization whose work contributes towards their goals, including rational and humane approaches to people convicted of sexual offenses.  I am fortunate to be cushioned from much of the blowback towards researchers in this area because of my white cisgender privilege and the support of my department colleagues.


One of the most gratifying and inspirational aspects of being a professor at UD is the truly outstanding students who are engaged in research.  I oversee a team of graduate and undergraduate students involved in a series of projects related to Crime/Law/Gender/Justice and together we collaborate with colleagues across the region. Meet the Team

Some of our current collaborative projects are described below.  In addition, visit the I-Poem Project to experience a novel approach to centering the voices of research subjects.  We created the featured poems from a cross-section of our current research.

Coverage of the project and the amazing work of David Garlock and Corie Priest: “Poetic Justice”

Flyer from our Launch event:

Meaningful Inclusion in Higher Ed (MInE)

This series of related studies uses interviews, focus groups and content analysis to examines how students and administrators make meaning of identity and inclusion in University accommodation policies. COVID-19 has exacerbated pre-existing concerns of students, faculty, and staff, further exposing disparities in access. We use critical discourse around inclusion and diversity in higher education to frame inquiry into how diversity and inclusion policies and practices function as law-like systems in the microcosm of higher education. How do the people who do diversity work in higher ed get supported (or not)? Do they feel like they have the tools and resources that they need to feel like they’re actually making an impact on campuses?

Chrysanthi Leon and Corey Shdaimah lead the project, in collaboration with Aneesa Baboolal and teams of undergraduate and graduate students to provide mentoring experiences and to learn from their perspectives.

From the University of Maryland Baltimore: Eunsong Park, Nikita Aggarwal, Amy Garzon-Hampton

From the University of Delaware: Atieh Babakhani, Francisca Moreno, Michaela Herdoiza, Dasha Rosenblatt

Current work includes:

International Students in US Higher Education

Graduate Students Experiences of Higher Education During COVID-19

The Experiences of Fat Students in Higher Education: Congratulations to Francisca Moreno for successfully completing their thesis and earning the Bachelor’s Degree with Distinction!

First State First Chance: Building a UD Prison Education program

New Research Review by Jules Lowman

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Funding from the University of Delaware Anti Racism Initiative (scroll down to First State First Chance)

I am also delighted to share recognition with Nicole C. in the form of the Consortium for Undergraduate Law and Justice Program’s 2020 Teaching Innovation Award in Interdisciplinary Legal Studies
for the undergraduate sociolegal research course sequence titled Sociology of Law and Law and Social Science INSIDE OUT taught at the Baylor Women’s Correctional Institution (BWCI) in Delaware.  Nicole created an amazing prison intersectionality exercise to facilitate perspective-taking.

Reading “Women Don’t Riot” After the Riot: Creating a New University-Prison Collaboration, “Women in Literature and Society, Inside Out”

Resources and Expanded information

The mission of the  Inside-Out Prison Exchange Program  is to create a dynamic relationship between higher education institutions and correctional facilities to extend the conversation about crime, race, inequality and social concern beyond the classroom and into the community. .The program’s appeal is derived from the experience that “inside” (incarcerated) and “outside” (non-incarcerated) students experience while working collaboratively to address important issues affecting their community.

Since 2016, I have been teaching a series of courses at the Baylor Women’s Correctional Institution (BWCI) in New Castle, Delaware.  Graciela Perez and I developed the first course, Women in Literature and Society and designed an evaluation of  Inside Out at BWCI, in order to improve learning outcomes.  More broadly, the findings from the study in progress are intended to generate empirical evidence about community based learning programs such as Inside-Out. The study provides a deeper understanding of how an experiential learning program concentrated in literature and writing may impact the skill sets and future aspirations of incarcerated and traditional students (hereinafter “inside” and “outside”).  New work from our study demonstrates the value of Bonds Beyond Bars.

Punishment’s Textures: Listening to Families on the Registry

The project examines the impact of sex offender laws and policies on the lives of family members of registrants (those convicted of sex offenses and often required to be on sex offender registries). In recent history, sex offenses, particularly those against children, often cause an intense reaction, observable in media coverage. This societal response is typically in the form of legislation that outlines sanctions and community-based policy & practices that are aimed at keeping sex offenders either incapacitated or closely supervised so that they can no longer victimize another child or adult. In theory, these laws are intended to prevent known sex offenders from committing further crimes (known as “recidivism”) as well as provide safety and support to victims of sex offenses (Center for Sex Offender Management 2008; Ohio Dept of Rehabilitation and Correction 2007; Cohen & Jelic, 2007; Wright, 2009). However, the realities of these laws often deviate from the intended aims with legislation and policies often enacted irrationally without consideration of the potential unintended consequences of such overly-restrictive, punitive actions (Farkas & Stichman 2002; Mercado, Alverez & Levenson 2008).

In particular, little attention has been paid in the existing literature to the effect sex offender laws and policies have on the family members of sex offenders, including spouses, children, and siblings (but see Rapp 2011). With Ashley Kilmer, I have conducted interviews to address this gap by examining the experience of family members of sex offenders with these policies and laws through the use of surveys and interviews. Specifically, we examine and identify the consequences current sex offender policies and laws such as residency restrictions, registration requirements, and community notification have had on the family members of the individual convicted of the sexual offense in the areas of social/family relationships, employment, housing, and community involvement.

I also regularly teach a seminar on sex crimes and punishments, and have found that the best way to open minds is to give students the chance to hear from people affected by the registry in their own words.  Luckily, there are now a number of films, exposes, books and articles that help do this (see the blog: coming soon for lists of some great ones).  Our contribution is to use poetry to highlight the voices of the resilient family members who are impacted by the registry.  In the coming months, watch for additional poems and audio recordings, designed to put a more accessible  & human face on our published work and work in progress.

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