Jill A. McCorkel, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Sociology and Criminology

McCorkel press photo

Dr. McCorkel is Associate Professor of Sociology and Criminology and a Faculty Associate of the Africana Studies Program at Villanova University.  She received her Ph.D. in Sociology at the University of Delaware.  While there, she worked as the lead ethnographer at the Center for Drug & Alcohol Studies on several projects funded by the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA), including research on prison-based drug treatment programs, prisoner reentry, and street-level drug trafficking.  During the Fall 2017 - Spring 2018 academic year, Dr. McCorkel is on sabbatical in Dublin, Ireland.  She will be a visiting scholar at the Institute of Criminology at University College Dublin.

Dr. McCorkel's research investigates the social and political consequences of mass incarceration  in the United States.  She focuses primarily on how law and systems of punishment perpetuate race, class, and gender-based inequities.  In 2014, she received the Distinguished Scholar Award from the American Society of Criminology Division of Women and Crime for her research in these areas.  Her book, Breaking Women: Gender, Race, and the New Politics of Imprisonment (New York University Press, 2013), explores the consequences of the War on Drugs and "get tough" policies for women prisoners.  Using detailed participation observation and candid interviews with prisoners, staff, and state officials, she examines how prison privatization and the racial politics of the Drug War collapsed the rehabilitative ideal and, in the process, transformed the logic and practice of punishment in women's prisons.  Her book was selected by the Society for the Study of Social Problems as one of five finalists for the prestigious C. Wright Mills Award.    

In addition to her research, Dr. McCorkel serves on the advisory board of Villanova's undergraduate degree program at SCI - Graterford, the largest maximum security prison in Pennsylvania.  She teaches undergraduate sociology courses in the prison, collaborates on program development, and offers a service-learning course that brings on-campus students into the prison as literacy tutors.  Villanova's undergraduate degree program was recently selected by the Obama administration to participate in the Second Chance Pell initiatve.  This innovative pilot program expands opportunities for qualified prisoners to pursue undergraduate degrees.

On campus, Dr. McCorkel teaches courses in the Sociology Law, the Sociology of Punishment, and Introdution to Sociology.  She has been a semi-finalist for the University's Lindback Teaching Award and, in 2013, was selected by the senior class to give Villanova University's "Last Lecture."

In addition to her research and teaching, Dr. McCorkel works as a consultant on wrongful conviction cases and commutation and parole petitions.  She is currently an advisor to Larry Krasner, the Democratic nominee for District Attorney of Philadelphia.  She has previously served with the John Howard Association as a court-appointed monitor for the Illinois prison system.  She spends her spare time photographing Philadelphia and chasing after her dogs, Felonius Monk and Nina Simone.

Contact Information

Department of Sociology and Criminology
271 St. Augustine Center
800 Lancaster Avenue
Villanova University
Villanova, PA 19085
Phone: 610.519.8899
Email: jill.mccorkel@villanova.edu

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