Monica Bell's research primarily explores 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, criminal procedure and the regulation of police, family law and policy, poverty law, law and inequality, urban and community sociology, race, culture, and qualitative methods. These interests, though multiple, coalesce around the goal of analyzing largely hidden aspects of persistent American poverty and investigating how the law should respond to these conditions. On a larger scale, Monica aims to create a project on the socio-legal study of poverty to support empirical research, normative legal analysis, and advocacy collaboratively across disciplines.
Monica's work has appeared in law journals and social science journals. A recent article, "Situational Trust: How Disadvantaged Mothers Reconceive Legal Cynicism," reveals specific ways that poor African-American 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 received four best graduate student paper awards from sections of the American Sociological Association and an honorable mention from the Eastern Sociological Society for the best graduate student paper across all topics, is forthcoming in the Law & Society Review. With Matthew Desmond, she recently co-authored "Housing, Poverty, and the Law," which appeared in the November 2015 issue of the Annual Review of Law and Social Science.
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 (2014-2015 and 2016-2017), a research associate at Yale Law School's Justice Collaboratory (2015-2016), a doctoral fellow in the Multidisciplinary Program in Inequality and Social Policy at Harvard, and a member of the California Bar.