Featured Panelists

Critical Intersections of Crime and Social Justice will have a featured panel with the following speakers:

Dr. Jason Williams


Dr. Williams is an activist criminologist, and his research and publications focus on critical policing, race, social control, social justice and movements, criminal justice policy, critical criminology, critical and feminist methodology, and sociology of knowledge. He is co-editor of A Critical Analysis of Race and the Administration of Justice and has two forthcoming books with Routledge, Policing and Race: A Criminological Conception of #BlackLivesMatter and Black Males and the Criminal Justice System. Also he is currently doing fieldwork in Ferguson and Baltimore regarding the perceptions and experiences of African American community members with police.

Dr. Emily Lenning


Dr. Emily Lenning is an Associate Professor of Criminal Justice at Fayetteville State University.  She earned her PhD from Western Michigan University in 2008 and has since published books, book chapters, and peer-reviewed articles on topics ranging from surviving careers in academia, Queer Criminology, state-corporate crime, the social control of the body, and engaging and effective teaching techniques.  She has provided Safezone training to over 300 of her colleagues and was instrumental in creating FSU’s Safezone Office, a resource for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) students, making FSU the 3rd historically Black college in the nation to have such an office.  During her tenure at FSU she has earned five teaching awards, including the Margaret Lang Willis Outstanding Criminal Justice Educator award from the North Carolina Criminal Justice Association, and FSU’s highest honor as the 2014-2015 Teacher of the Year.  Her scholarship and service accomplishments have also been recognized on several occasions, including being named one of the Fayetteville Observer’s 40 Under 40, which recognizes the area’s “top business professionals and community leaders” under the age of 40, and the American Society of Criminology’s Division on Women and Crime New Scholar Award.

Dr. Lois Presser


Lois Presser is Professor of Sociology at the University of Tennessee. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Human Development and Family Studies from Cornell University, an MBA from Yale University, and a doctoral degree in Criminal Justice/Criminology from the University of Cincinnati. Prior to earning her Ph.D., Dr. Presser worked for 10 years in the criminal justice system in New York City. She worked with and on behalf of both offenders and victims of crime.

Dr. Presser’s research concerns the role of language and discursive, especially story, forms in social arrangements and action, including criminal and other harmful action, and the promises and problems of restorative justice approaches to crime and other conflict. She draws on the perspectives of cultural sociology, critical criminology, and discourse analysis. Her work has appeared in top journals of criminology and sociology.
Her first book, Been a Heavy Life: Stories of Violent Men (2008, University of Illinois Press), explores how violent men construct themselves as decent, heroic, and masculine in the face of stigma and under circumstances of captivity. Her second book, Why We Harm (2013, Rutgers University Press), advances a general theory of harmful action based on narratives. Her third book is the co-edited volume, Narrative Criminology, with Sveinung Sandberg (2015, NYU Press), which sets out the narrative criminology paradigm theoretically and empirically.

Dr. Danielle Dirks 


Danielle Dirks, PhD is a sociologist, professor, and author. She received her MA and BA in sociology, MA certificate and minor in gender and women's studies, and BS in psychology from the University of Florida. She completed her PhD in sociology at The University of Texas at Austin in 2011, with concentrations in criminology and racial and ethnic relations. That fall, she started as an Assistant Professor of Sociology at Occidental College, a private liberal arts college in Los Angeles, California.


She is the author of Confronting Campus Rape: Legal Landscapes, New Media, and Networked Activism (Routledge, 2015) and co-author of How Ethical Systems Change: Lynching and Capital Punishment (Routledge, 2011), as well as several other articles, chapters, and pieces on crime, justice, and inequality.

She is currently at work on a third book, Punishment in the Age of Google: The Mark of a Digital Criminal Record, that explores the ways in which digital technologies are reshaping American penal practices.

Her work has been featured in the New York Times, National Public Radio, New York Magazine, Huffington Post, Marie Claire, MSNBC, Bloomberg, GawkerMs. MagazineChronicle of Higher Education, and a handful of feature-length documentaries, including The Hunting Ground. She has been a guest on Al Jazeera, National Public Radio, TakePart Live, and many other outlets.


In 2010, Dirks was the first social scientist to be awarded the prestigious Donald D. Harrington Fellows Dissertation Award. In 2013, for her dedication to teaching and her students, she won the campus-wide Donald R. Loftsgordon Teaching Award at Occidental College, the first professor in the history of the award to earn the distinction so early in her career. 


In her commitment to public sociology, Dr. Dirks frequently speaks and provides workshops to colleges, universities, and organizations across the United States.

Dr. Alessandro De Giorgi


Alessandro De Giorgi is Associate Professor at the Department of Justice Studies, San Jose State University (e-mail: alessandro.degiorgi@sjsu.edu). He received his PhD in Criminology from Keele University (United Kingdom) in 2005. Before joining the Department of Justice Studies, he was a Research Fellow in Criminology at the University of Bologna (Italy), and a Visiting Scholar at the University of Bern (Switzerland), the University of Saarland (Germany), and the Center for the Study of Law and Society, University of California, Berkeley. His teaching and research interests include critical theories of punishment and social control, urban ethnography, and radical political economy. He is the author of Rethinking the Political Economy of Punishment: Perspectives on Post-Fordism and Penal Politics (Ashgate, 2006) and the editor of Beyond Mass Incarceration: Crisis and Critique in North American Penal Systems (2016), a special issue of the journal Social Justice. His current project is an ethnographic study of the socioeconomic dimensions of concentrated incarceration and prisoner reentry in Oakland, California.

Dr. Robert Werth


Dr. Werth obtained a B.A., specialized in Sociology, from the University of Iowa. For graduate school he attended the University of California - Irvine, where he obtained a M.A. in Social Ecology and a Ph.D. in the interdisciplinary Criminology, Law and Society program. Prior to coming to Rice, he was an assistant professor in the Department of Sociology at Quinnipiac University. Broadly, his research focuses on (a) punishment, (b) the ways in which penal subjects are constituted, imagined and represented, and (c) the governance of risk and dangerousness. His current research entails two overlapping foci. First, it explores how individuals on parole experience and navigate state efforts to regulate their conduct and personhood. Second, it examines how parole personnel enact parole, including how they understand and engage with the formal goals of community safety, rehabilitation, and reintegration. This project also explores how paroled subjects are assessed, including the ways in which evaluation assembles technical, moral and affective knowledges. He is beginning a project on how individuals formerly convicted of a penal offense perceive and make use of services and programs available to them in the community (e.g., job training programs and housing services) and the ways in which “justice reinvestment” initiatives may be impacting this. 


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