Abena Subira Mackall is a doctoral candidate concentrating in Culture, Communities, and Education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and a 2017-2018 National Academy of Education/Spencer Foundation Dissertation Fellow. Abena uses in-depth interviewing to clarify the mechanisms underlying associations between poverty, crime, and low educational attainment. In doing so, her research provides insights into practices and policies that will enable families, communities, and public institutions to more effectively support crime-involved individuals. In Abena’s dissertation she draws on repeated phenomenological interviews with young people whose first arrests occurred prior to age 18, to shed light on two questions that emerge from labeling theory. Namely, do young people internalize the idea that they are ‘delinquent,’ which prompts additional offending? Or, do the societal responses to juvenile justice system involvement, such as exclusion from schools and similar institutions, lead to continued crime-involvement?
Abena is a former special education teacher and ELA instructional coach. She has also worked as a health instructor and academic mentor in prisons. While at Harvard, Abena has been an Inequality & Criminal Justice Doctoral Fellow in the Multidisciplinary Program in Inequality & Social Policy, a Spencer Foundation Early Career Scholar in New Civics, and a Julius B. Richmond Fellow at the Center on the Developing Child. She is a former Co-Chair of the Harvard Educational Review and holds an EdM from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, a MSc in Race, Ethnicity and Post-Colonial Studies from the London School of Economics, a MSEd in Special Education from Hunter College, and an AB in Politics from Princeton University.