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Crime & Justice

Work within the Crime and Justice Division incorporates a broad range of social justice issues related to criminal behavior, potentially harmful non-criminal behavior, the criminalization of certain behaviors, and responses by the criminal justice system.  Fellows of the division are engaged in projects examining whether relationships exist between immigration and crime and identifying the experiences faced by immigrants as they interact with the criminal justice system.  We study community and restorative justice practices and issues related to prisoner reentry into the community.  Other work focusing on the legal system includes (1) examinations of the intersecting interests of judges and lawyers and potential biases that may result; and (2) research examining how insider trading and securities fraud has been handled by federal prosecution as a criminal rather than civil matter, such as in the Martha Stewart case.  In addition, Fellows of the division are broadly interested in how violence is shaped by social structure (poverty, racial/segregation) and power dynamics and how those who would do harm to others account for such actions.  Through this work, we hope to reduce crime and victimization and seek to promote justice and equality in the criminal justice system by identifying potential sources of crime and factors contributing to inequality in criminal processing.


Ben Barton

Ben Barton directs the Clinical Programs at the University of Tennessee College of Law.  In this capacity he directs the advocacy clinic, which takes criminal defense appointments and the innocence project/wrongful convictions clinic, which investigates and prosecutes claims of innocence by Tennessee prisoners.  Professor Barton’s work focuses on the close nexus in interests and backgrounds of American judges and lawyers. He describes this phenomenon and its insalubrious effects in his 2010 book, The Lawyer-Judge Bias in the American Legal System.

Michelle Brown

Michelle Brown’s research focuses upon the study of punishment, law, and culture. Her cases, ranging from mass incarceration to forced migration, from the actions of U.S. soldiers at Abu Ghraib to the life and death decisions of U.S. and international law, explore how cultural meanings are produced and social practice are decided at the limits of law. Her work takes on the specific problems that emerge in contexts of exclusion with special attention to the social and ethical commitments that develop and are subsumed at these intersections.

Recent Publications

  • Brown, Michelle. 2012. “Empathy and Punishment.” Punishment & Society, 14, 4: 383‐401.
  • Polizzi, David and Michelle Brown. 2012. “In Search of the Ethical in Criminal Justice Practice,” The Journal of Theoretical and Philosophical Criminology, 4, 2: 65‐90.
  • Rafter, Nicole and Michelle Brown. 2011. Criminology Goes to the Movies: Crime Theory and Popular Culture. New York: New York University Press.
  • Brown, Michelle. 2009. The Culture of Punishment: Prison, Society, and Spectacle. New York: New York

Joan MacLeod Heminway

Joan MacLeod Heminway’s work focuses on disclosure law and policy under the federal securities laws.  She principally researches and writes in the area of securities fraud–including especially insider trading–under Rule 10b-5 under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934.  Because a lot of the claims and liability in that area of late have been criminal (as opposed to civil) in nature, she has focused her attention on issues of justice surrounding federal prosecutions for securities fraud.  The Martha Stewart case (originally a prosecution for securities fraud and charges relating to misstatements to government officials) has held her interest over the past few years and resulted in multiple scholarly works on both the criminal case against Martha Stewart and the companion civil suit for insider trading brought by the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Recent Publications

  • Heminway, Joan MacLeod (2013).  A Portrait of the Insider Trader as a Woman, in Research Handbook on the Law and Economics of Insider Trading (Stephen Bainbridge, ed.).  Elgar Press.
  • Heminway, Joan MacLeod. (2011). “Disparate Notions of Fairness: Comparative Insider Trading Regulation in an Evolving Global Landscape” in International Law: Readings on Contemporary Issues and Future Developments.  Sanford R. Silverburg ed.  Westview Press.
  • Heminway, Joan MacLeod. (2007).  Martha Stewart’s Legal Troubles.  Carolina Academic Press.

Lois Presser

Lois Presser studies the cultural grounds for harm, and restorative justice approaches for preventing and responding to harm.  She is at the forefront of work to theorize social harm, which includes but is not limited to crime.  Her areas of expertise include criminological theory; masculinity and violence; power and ethics in research; and restorative and community justice.

Recent Publications

  • Presser, Lois. Why We Harm (2013). Rutgers University Press.
  • Presser, Lois, and Jennifer Schalley (2013). “Institutionalizing Harm in Tennessee: The Right of the People to Hunt and Fish.” Journal of Sociology & Social Welfare.
  • Presser, Lois (2012). “Getting on Top Through Mass Murder: Narrative, Metaphor, and Violence.” Crime, Media, Culture 8(1):3-21.
  • Presser, Lois, and William V. Taylor (2011). “An Auto-Ethnography of Hunting.” Crime, Law and Social Change 55(5): 483-494.