Marie Gottschalk of Penn Named to National Academy of Science Commission Studying U.S. High Rates of Incarceration

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Media Contact:Jacquie Posey | | 215-898-6460April 20, 2012

PHILADELPHIA -Marie Gottschalk, professor of political science at the University of Pennsylvania, has been named to a National Academy of Science 18- member panel of leading scholars and experts on corrections to study the causes and consequences of high rates of incarceration in the United States. Jeremy Travis, president of John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York, will chair the panel. The two-year, $1.5 million project is sponsored by the National Institute of Justice and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

The commission will focus on existing scientific evidence on incarceration in the U.S.  and propose a research agenda on incarceration and alternatives to incarceration for the future.  More than 2.3 million people are behind bars in American prisons and jails, at any one time, representing one of the highest incarceration levels in the world.

Gottschalk specializes in American politics, with a focus on criminal justice, health policy, the U.S. political economy, organized labor, the welfare state and the comparative politics of public policy. She is the author of, among other works, The Prison and the Gallows: The Politics of Mass Incarceration in America (Cambridge, 2006).  She is currently working on a book-length study, Caught: Race, Neoliberalism, and the Future of the Carceral State, which examines the political possibilities for significantly reducing the incarceration rate.

The panelists will study why incarceration rates in the country have skyrocketed since the 1970s, examine costs and benefits of the nation's current sentencing and incarceration policies and look into whether alternative punishments might net similar public safety benefits at lower financial and social costs.

Others panelists are Jeffrey Beard, former secretary of the Pennsylvania Corrections Department, now at Pennsylvania State University; Robert Crutchfield, a sociologist at the University of Washington; Tony Fabelo of the Council of State Governments Justice Center; Craig Haney, professor of psychology at the University of California, Santa Cruz; Randall Kennedy, a law professor at Harvard University; Glenn C. Loury, professor of social sciences and economics at Brown University; Sara McLanahan, professor of sociology and public affairs at Princeton University; Lawrence Mead, professor of politics and public policy at New York University; Ann Morrison Piehl, professor of economics at Rutgers University; Daniel Nagin, professor of public policy and statistics at  Carnegie Mellon University; Devah Pager, a professor of sociology at Princeton;  Robert Sampson, professor of social sciences at Harvard and president of the American Society of Criminology; Heather Thompson, professor of history at Temple University; Michael Tonry, professor of law of the University of Minnesota; Avelardo Valdez, professor of social work at the University of Southern California; and Bruce Western, professor of sociology at Harvard.  

More information about the National Academy of Science project is available at