Beth Richie

Professor of African American Studies & Criminology, Law and Justice


Ph.D. Sociology, University of New York, New York, 1992
M.S.W. Sociology, Washington University, St. Louis, MO, 1980
B.S.W. Cornell University, Damascus, Ithaca, NY, 1979

Research Interests

The emphasis of Dr. Richie's scholarly and activist work has been on the ways that race/ethnicity and social position affect women's experience of violence and incarceration, focusing on the experiences of African American battered women and sexual assault survivors.  Dr. Richie is the author of Arrested Justice: Black Women, Violence and America’s Prison Nation (NYU Press, 2012) which chronicles the evolution of the contemporary anti-violence movement during the time of mass incarceration in the United States  and numerous articles concerning Black feminism and gender violence, race and criminal justice policy, and the social dynamics around issues of sexuality, prison abolition,  and grassroots organizations in African American Communities. Her earlier book Compelled to Crime: the Gender Entrapment of Black Battered Women, is taught in many college courses and often cited in the popular press for its original arguments concerning race, gender and crime.  Dr. Richie is a qualitative researcher who is also working on an ethnographic project documenting the conditions of confinement in women's prisons.  Her work has been supported by grants from The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, The Ford Foundation, and The National Institute for Justice and The National Institute of Corrections.  Among others, she has been awarded the Audre Lorde Legacy Award from the Union Institute, The Advocacy Award from the US Department of Health and Human Services, and The Visionary Award from the Violence Intervention Project.   Dr. Richie is a an board member of The Woods Fund of Chicago, The Institute on Domestic Violence in the African Community, The Center for Fathers’ Families and Public Policy and a founding member of INCITE!: Women of Color Against Violence.

For an excerpt of Arrested Justice, please click on the image below:


A Discovery in the Schoolyard

There was something about the number of police cars, the schoolyard full of reporters instead of children, and the morning sunshine cast- ing a bright light on such a troubling moment that made the discovery so shocking. It amazed me that an otherwise mundane object—a trash dumpster—could be transformed by one simple act of despair into a site of tragic meaning and consequence. At first, the discovery so violated my sensibilities that I couldn’t grasp its enormous significance; the scene seemed so fundamentally out of order. It took only a few moments, however, for me to realize that under different circumstances the young woman at the heart of this tragedy very well could have been my niece, my sister, or one of my female students. Indeed, any number of young Black women I have known might have become pregnant at age 15. I could well imagine that one of them might have found herself sitting in a bathroom stall at her high school, desperate and frightened, trying to figure out what to do. I attempted to convince myself that if it had been someone I knew, the outcome would have been different, although there was no way to know for sure. But on this spring morning, one particular young woman, who until this point was a stranger to me, decided that she had no better option when she went into labor at school but to deliver the baby herself, put the newborn into her backpack, and then place the backpack in a dumpster behind her south side Chicago high school...

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Contact Info

Office: 1201 UH
Phone: (312) 413-1573
Fax: (312) 996-5799
Curriculum Vitae