I am a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Political Science at the University of Pennsylvania. I specialize in American political development and institutions with a focus on inequality, public policy, law, and mass incarceration. I hold B.A.s in Political Science and History from Rutgers University and an M.A. in Political Science from the University of Pennsylvania. I will be defending my dissertation by May 2018.
My research examines class disparities in American crime policy by asking why the American state harshly punishes street criminals but struggles to consistently prosecute corporate criminals. Whereas most scholarship treats these phenomena separately, I argue that the criminal justice system’s divergent treatments of street criminals and corporate criminals share common ideological and institutional roots. Through an analysis of intellectual history, policy debates, and institutional development between 1870 and 1965, my work demonstrates how the punitive character and class biases of contemporary crime policy developed over time. Different political constructions of street criminality and corporate criminality have historically been rooted in shared sets of ideas about what causes and constitutes criminal behavior.
At historical junctures including the Gilded Age, Progressive Era, New Deal, and post-war period, policymakers used prevailing ideas about crime to justify punishment for street crimes and lenience for corporate crimes. These developments embedded class inequalities into the criminal justice institutions that have facilitated the carceral state’s rise while the regulatory state has become the government’s primary means of controlling corporate crime and processing anti-business political impulses. My research thus provides new insights into how and why American crime policy has hardened divides across class in American society. It illustrates that the development of mass incarceration, corporate criminal law, and the regulatory state should not be viewed as as separate developmental threads, but as processes that have overlapped and intersected in ways that have reinforced politically constructed understandings about what counts as “crime” and who counts as a “criminal.”
My research has been supported by the University of Pennsylvania School of Arts and Sciences, the Robert A. Fox Leadership Program, and the Zicklin Center for Business Ethics Research. Other work of mine has appeared in Political Research Quarterly and on the London School of Economics’ American Politics and Policy Blog.