Reiter receives faculty award

Professor of Criminology, Law and Society Keramet Reiter

Professor of criminology, law and society recognized for service

Keramet Reiter, professor of criminology, law and society, has been named a recipient of the UCI 2021-2022 Distinguished Mid-Career Faculty Award for Service. The award is conferred by the Senate on faculty members who have made significant contributions to the university through service. It is among the most prestigious awards UC faculty members can receive from their colleagues. 

Reiter is the director of LIFTED (Leveraging Inspiring Futures Through Educational Degrees), an initiative aimed at helping people in prison along the college pathway.

Through LIFTED, students who are incarcerated can earn a bachelor’s degree in sociology from UCI while in prison. 

“People who complete a degree — a college degree — while they’re incarcerated tend to have recidivism rates approaching zero,” Reiter explained during a UCI podcast. “A big meta-analysis from RAND a few years ago found that for every dollar invested in higher education in prison, there was $5 of social benefit accrued because people are able to get jobs when they get out and become functioning tax-paying members of society. But, on the individual level, I think it’s incredibly meaningful, too, just for bringing dignity into a space that our society is increasingly realizing has become hyper-stigmatized to a destructive degree. And, I think higher education is really an important step in rolling back those individual effects, also.”

Reiter co-founded PrisonPandemic, an archive of incarcerated Californian's experiences of the COVID-19 pandemic. The project seeks to amplify voices that are often silenced, and has involved dozens of undergraduate students in collecting and processing stories. Reiter also serves as vice chair of criminology, law and society. She holds a Ph.D. in Jurisprudence and Social Policy and a J.D. from UC Berkeley. 

Reiter studies prisons, prisoners’ rights, and the impact of prison and punishment policy on individuals, communities and legal systems. She uses a variety of methods in her work — including interviewing, archival and legal analysis, and quantitative data analysis — in order to understand both the history and impact of criminal justice policies, from medical experimentation on prisoners and record clearing programs to gun control laws and the use of long-term solitary confinement in the United States and internationally.

Reiter will be feted next spring during a ceremony and reception, where she will be presented with a commemorative plaque and a monetary award of $2,500. 

Mimi Ko Cruz
Director of Communications