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Expert in Mass Incarceration, Prisoner Reentry, and Incarceration’s Impact on Families

Dr. Johnna Christian is an associate professor at the School of Criminal Justice at Rutgers University-Newark. Her work examines incarceration’s impact on families and neighborhoods, emphasizing the gendered aspects of family members’ connections to prisoners, as well as the disparate impact on racial and ethnic minority groups. She has conducted research about family visitation at prisons and the social and economic implications of maintaining ties to prisoners. Her recent work focuses on the role of informal social support in the reentry process, including a study of a family-based prisoner reentry intervention for young people and a mentoring program for formerly incarcerated women. Christian has presented her research throughout the United States as well as in England and Singapore and is a member of the Racial Democracy, Crime and Justice Network, formerly based at Ohio State University and currently at Rutgers University-Newark.

Awarded a $60,000 seed grant in May 2015 from the Office of the Chancellor, Christian is focusing on the development of a campaign to successfully reintegrate into the Newark community formerly incarcerated individuals. Specifically, she is endeavoring to conduct interviews with formerly incarcerated men and their family members to examine how individual and relational strengths unfold during the process of reintegration. The results of her efforts will inform the development and delivery of services for formerly incarcerated individuals and their family members.

Widely published, Christian is co-author or co-editor of the following works, among others: How Offenders Transform Their Lives (Willan Publishing, 2009); “Secondary Narratives in the Aftermath of Crime: Defining Family Members’ Relationships with Prisoners,” published in Punishment & Society (Vo. 13, No. 4, 2011); and “Gender Differences in the Transformation Narrative: Implications for Revised Reentry Strategies for Female Offenders,” published in Journal of Offender Rehabilitation (Vol. 48, Issue 6, 2009).

Christian received her doctoral degree from the University at Albany School of Criminal Justice in 2004 and has been a member of the Rutgers University faculty since 2003.