Monica Bell uses empirical evidence to explore the influence of criminal justice on family life and points of intersection between criminal law, housing law, family law, and poverty-related social policy in the United States. Her core interests include criminal law and criminal justice policy, property law and housing policy, family structure and family law, poverty law, urban and community sociology, culture, and qualitative methods. Though these interests are multiple, they coalesce around the goals of understanding persistent poverty, illuminating sources of resilience, and identifying potential legal and policy interventions to help resolve the issues identified.
Monica's work has appeared in law journals and social science journals, including the Stanford Journal of Civil Rights & Civil Liberties, the Yale Journal of Law & Feminism, Qualitative Sociology, and the University of Pittsburgh Law Review. With Matthew Desmond, she recently co-authored "Housing, Poverty, and the Law," which will appear in the Annual Review of Law and Social Science in December 2015.
Her most recent sole-authored article, "Situational Trust: How Disadvantaged Mothers Reconceive Legal Cynicism," is based on qualitative data collected in Washington, DC. It reveals specific ways that poor mothers--often depicted as either disdainful of police or as manipulators who unfairly call the police on their relationship partners and children--understand and strategize around criminal justice in the age of heavy policing. This article, which won best graduate student paper awards from the Law and the Culture sections of the American Sociological Association, is currently under peer review.
Monica is a first-generation college graduate with degrees from Furman University, University College Dublin, Harvard University, and the Yale Law School. She is also a Climenko Fellow, Ph.D. candidate in Sociology and Social Policy, and doctoral fellow in the Multidisciplinary Program in Inequality and Social Policy at Harvard.