SLS Professor Joan Petersilia honored with prestigious Stockholm Prize in Criminology


SLS Professor Joan Petersilia honored with prestigious Stockholm Prize in Criminology
SLS Professor Joan Petersilia

Stanford, Calif., October 30, 2013 – Stanford Law School’s Joan Petersilia has been awarded the 2014 Stockholm Prize in Criminology for her work on prisoner reentry and supporting ex-offenders during the high-risk period immediately following release from prison. Petersilia is the Adelbert H. Sweet Professor of Law and Co-Director of the Stanford Criminal Justice Center.

The Stockholm Prize in Criminology is an international prize sponsored by the Swedish Ministry of Justice and supported by major contributions from the Torsten Soderberg Foundation. As the most prestigious award that a criminologist can receive, the Stockholm Prize is awarded for outstanding achievements in criminological research or for the application of research results by practitioners for the reduction of crime and the advancement of human rights. Petersilia will share the award with Carnegie Mellon University’s Daniel S. Nagin. Both scholars will be honored at the 2014 Stockholm Criminology Symposium in June 2014.

The Stockholm Prize jury cited the significance of Petersilia’s book, When Prisoners Come Home: Parole and Prisoner Reentry, and her related publications. This work “was a landmark in helping the nation, in helping criminologists and criminal justice officials, to understand the dimensions of the problem of 600,000 or more people coming out of prison every year,” said Lawrence Sherman, co-chair of the jury and professor at the University of Cambridge and the University of Maryland.

The jury praised Petersilia’s efforts to re-shape the use of prison and community corrections based on scientific evidence of successful reentry strategies. According to the jury, it was easily able to connect her research and “specific advances in knowledge … to improving the human condition.” The jury also noted that Petersilia’s work has helped multiply U.S. investment in helping ex-offenders transition to life outside prison as soon as they are released, a time when they often have no job or place to live.

“Joan Petersilia’s expertise in corrections reform is unparalleled. Like no other scholar, she has focused our attention on the challenges society faces after a prisoner leaves the system. Thankfully, her important work has influenced policymakers nationwide,” said M. Elizabeth Magill, Richard E. Lang Professor of Law and Dean of Stanford Law School. “The Stockholm Prize is a wonderful recognition of her pioneering work.”

Petersilia has spent nearly three decades studying the performance of U.S. criminal justice agencies and has been instrumental in influencing sentencing and corrections reform in California and throughout the United States. She has authored 11 books about crime and public policy, and her research on parole reform, prisoner reintegration and sentencing policy has inspired substantial policy changes throughout the nation.

As a criminologist with a background in empirical research and social science, Petersilia served as a special advisor to former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. She helped reorganize juvenile and adult corrections systems and worked with the California State Legislature to implement prison and parole reform. She also chaired Governor Schwarzenegger’s Rehabilitation Strike Team and was Co-Chair of California’s Expert Panel on Offender Programs. Petersilia continues to advise current California Governor Jerry Brown and California lawmakers in regards to California’s Public Safety Realignment Law of 2011, the state’s historic attempt to downsize prisons and enhance rehabilitation.

Petersilia is a former director of the Criminal Justice Program at RAND Corporation, former president of the American Society of Criminology, former president of the California Association for Criminal Justice Research, former co-director of the National Research Council’s study on Community Supervision and Desistance from Crime, and former director of the National Research Council’s study on Crime Victims with Developmental Disabilities. In 2010, she was appointed by Attorney General Eric Holder to the Department of Justice Scientific Advisory Board.

“The United States’ overreliance on incarceration has too often come at the expense of meaningful rehabilitation and public safety,” Petersilia said. “This pattern is simply unsustainable. There are better, more effective methods that successfully reintroduce former offenders into daily life without risking public safety.”

Petersilia was chosen by Stanford University as the recipient of the 2013 Roland Volunteer Service Prize. The Roland prize recognizes Stanford faculty who involve students in integrating academic scholarship with significant volunteer service to society.

Click here for the jury’s discussion of the Stockholm Prize in Criminology and the 2014 honorees.

About Stanford Law School

Stanford Law School is one of the nation’s leading institutions for legal scholarship and education. Its alumni are among the most influential decision makers in law, politics, business, and high technology. Faculty members argue before the Supreme Court, testify before Congress, produce outstanding legal scholarship and empirical analysis, and contribute regularly to the nation’s press as legal and policy experts. Stanford Law School has established a new model for legal education that provides rigorous interdisciplinary training, hands-on experience, global perspective and focus on public service, spearheading a movement for change.