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Brittany Friedman
Assistant Professor of Sociology
Areas of Specialization: Incarceration; Race and Punishment; Social Inequality; Political Mobilization; Gangs
Office: Davison Hall, Room 043
Campus: Livingston Campus
Education: Ph.D. and M.A. in Sociology from Northwestern University, M.A. in Latin American Studies from Columbia University, B.A. in History from Vanderbilt University

Brittany Friedman is Assistant Professor of Sociology and Faculty Affiliate of the Program in Criminal Justice. Her research interrogates how the racial and sociopolitical dynamics of penal policy affect punishment severity, incarceration conditions, and the prison social system. Her book project tackles this dilemma through an in-depth analysis of how extreme punishment against black militant prisoners led to the rise of the Black Guerilla Family in California. This project is supported by The National Science Foundation, the American Society of Criminology, and the Kellogg Dispute Resolution Research Center, and featured in numerous academic and public outlets, including most recently: KPFK 90.7 FM Los Angeles, 89.3 FM Chicago, Black Agenda Report, and The Immanent Frame.


Friedman is generally interested in the social movement foundations of organized crime. She is currently working on two related projects. The first (with Eva Rios) theorizes prison gang formation as a type of collective action, specifically focusing on the Primeiro Comando da Capital in Brazil. The second (with Pete Simi) compares the organizational development of white supremacist prison gangs in the United States.  She and Simi are also working on a study of deviance and reputation management in organizations.


Friedman is a member of the Multi-State Study of Monetary Sanctions, researching how monetary sanctions in the criminal justice system impact reentry, racial inequality, and poverty. Ongoing work stemming from this project examines (I) the impact of monetary sanctions on bankruptcy (with April Fernandes), (II) how and why states sue prisoners for the costs associated with their incarceration, and (III) how people cope with debt stemming from monetary sanctions. An article (with Mary Pattillo) on the relationship between logics and punitive measures for nonpayment is in the January 2019 issue of The Russell Sage Foundation Journal of the Social Sciences.


In the interest of "dreaming big," with Katherine Beckett, Heather Schoenfeld, and April Fernandes, Friedman submitted to the 2018 NSF Big Idea Machine. The team proposed Deconstructing the Carceral State as the next pressing research agenda for NSF investment in science.