I am an Assistant Professor of Sociology and (by courtesty) Law at Stanford University. Broadly, my scholarship examines social inequality, race/ethnicity, culture, the law, and criminal justice. I have written about the law and racial/ethnic health disparities, how judges think about and try to mitigate racial disparities, sociological approaches to studying racism, how the cultural meanings associated with stigmatized groups change over time, and how criminal defendants from different race and social class backgrounds experience court processing.
My in-progress book Privilege and Punishment shows how race and class inequalities in the criminal justice system are embedded in and reproduced through the attorney-client relationship. Drawing on ethnographic observations and interviews with lawyers and their clients, I show how lawyers and judges often ignore, coerce, and punish disadvantaged defendants who attempt to advocate for themselves in court but reward privileged defendants who trust in and defer to their lawyers' legal expertise. These dynamics reveal a paradox of legal control: striving to exercise one's legal rights often backfires for the poor and people of color.
My research has been published in Criminology, Law & Social Inquiry, Social Science & Medicine, and Socio-Economic Review and has been supported by the National Science Foundation, the American Society of Criminology, the Center for American Political Studies, and the Program in Criminal Justice Policy and Management. I have received awards from the American Sociological Association, the American Society of Criminology, the Law & Society Association, and the Society for the Study of Social Problems. I have also written policy reports and essays for various outlets, including Public Books and The Chronicle of Higher Education.
Before becoming a sociologist, I was a third grade teacher in the Atlanta Public Schools and a Junior Research Scholar at New York University's Stern School of Business. I hold an A.B. in Government from Harvard College and an A.M. and Ph.D. in Sociology from Harvard University.