Nicole Kaufman is an affiliate with Ohio University’s Center for Law, Justice and Culture. She received her doctorate in sociology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2014. Kaufman’s research areas cover political sociology, criminology and penology, law and society, and qualitative methods. Her research examines the meaning of social inclusion and the policies and laws that hinder and help extend citizenship rights to Americans. She is concerned with how these questions play out in managing several areas: prisoner reentry, women’s incarceration, faith-based treatment, and environmental racism.
Her dissertation focused on the process of societal inclusion of formerly incarcerated women and men as citizens. She examined the programs and goals of organizations that work with women, policies that facilitate prisoner reentry, and the process of inclusion of formerly incarcerated people in communities. Kaufman explains that the spin to her work is moving beyond recidivism as a focus, in order to “think about reentry in terms of citizenship and what does it mean for society to invest in communities and inclusion.” Her paper entitled “Prisoner Incorporation: The Work of the State and Non-Governmental Organizations” is forthcoming in Theoretical Criminology.
Kaufman teaches courses on criminal justice in America, criminology and punishment and society. She is a member of the American Society of Criminology, the American Sociological Association, the Law and Society Association, as well as the Society for the Study of Social Problems, Sociologists for Women in Society and the Southern Sociological Society.
Her interest in studying social justice and inequalities began as an undergraduate at Columbia University’s Barnard College. Kaufman participated in an NSF “REU” program (Research Experiences for Undergraduates) at the University of Idaho where she was paired with a rural sociologist. Over two summers, she was included in fieldwork in New Mexico and Idaho to collect data on how different actors viewed the issue of nuclear waste storage in Indian Country. Environmental justice and waste storage was also the topic of her senior thesis at Barnard.
For her master’s degree, Kaufman studied the emergence of the idea of environmental racism in the courtroom through the voices of plaintiffs challenging unwanted land uses and judges. She explains, “This project showed how the courtroom can be a place to build and extend rights, despite consistent losses and before there is a social movement fighting together. A movement can begin from developing ideas about the right of people of color to be protected from unjust exposure to toxins, in cases where the plaintiffs do not know each other.”