Public Engagement


In March 2022, Knowable Magazine and JSTOR Daily hosted a conversation with Morgan Godvin, Emily Underwood, and me discussing the history of prisons and the rise of mass incarceration. Read the Knowable article that preceded the event.

In December 2021, PA Books (PCNTV) aired an interview with me discussing The Deviant Prison. The interview is also available as a podcast.

In October 2021, I participated in launch event for the special centennial issue of The Howard Journal of Crime and Justice in which we discussed such issues as how the criminal justice system has changed over time, the path of reforms, and the possibility of abolition.

In February 2021, I gave the opening talk for the “California Correctional Crisis, Meet COVID-19” (Virtual) Symposium at UC Hastings School of Law. I discussed “The Influence of Disease and Disease Prevention on the Development of Prisons.”

In January 2021, I participated in a Q&A about my book on Eastern State Penitentiary and what it tells us about prisons today in an event, Unpacking the Origins of America’s Modern Prison System, hosted by Eastern State Penitentiary‘s Searchlight Series. The event was live streamed on facebook.

In April 2020, during the coronavirus pandemic, I created a YouTube video summarizing the news and public-facing commentary from academics about COVID-19 in U.S. prisons and jails.

This video contains a more polished version of the comments I gave as part of the panel, ¿Qué Hacer Con Las Carceles?  (What to do with the prisons?) hosted by Argentina’s Comisión Provincial por la Memoria and lived streamed on Facebook.

In 2019, I participated in the TEDxMississauga event in which I used my historical research on American prisons to ask “How did sending people to prison became so normal?

Photo Credit: Ginny Aubuchon

Written Commentary

I wrote a brief introduction to some of the best books on the early prisons in the US for

During the coronavirus pandemic, I wrote an article for The Conversation reflecting on role of disease prevention in prison reform. I highlight the contrast in our disease prevention efforts today compared to the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.

This article is based on an earlier Twitter thread I wrote drawing on my original research on eighteenth- and nineteenth-century prisons and jails.

I then discussed the content of the article and Twitter thread during an On the Media segment interview for (WNYC Studies).

Previously, I weighed in on the current controversy over the Stanford Prison Experiment (SPE). Recently, some commentators challenged the veracity of the SPE and its findings. In an article for The Conversation, I draw on research about historical and contemporary prisons to argue that, whatever its methods, the SPE’s findings were valid: prisons are harmful for the people who live and work within.