Historian Heather Thompson named to National Academy of Science advisory panel

Heather Ann Thompson, professor of history in the Department of African American Studies and the Department of History at Temple, has been named to a National Academy of Sciences panel to study the causes and consequences of high rates of incarceration in the United States. The two-year, $1.5 million project is sponsored by the National Institute of Justice and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

Thompson, the only historian named to the panel, is writing the first comprehensive history of the Attica Prison Rebellion of 1971 and its legacy. She is also the author of Whose Detroit: Politics, Labor and Race in a Modern American City (Cornell University Press: 2001).

The 18-member panel of leading scholars and experts, chaired by Jeremy Travis, president of John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York, will examine the reasons for the dramatic increases in U.S. incarceration rates since the 1970s. Currently, more than 2.3 million people are behind bars in American prisons and jails at any one time, representing one of the highest incarceration levels in the world.

The commission will focus on existing scientific evidence on incarceration in the U.S. and propose a research agenda on incarceration and alternatives to incarceration for the future. 

Others panelists are Jeffrey Beard, former secretary of the Pennsylvania Corrections Department, now at Pennsylvania State University; Robert Crutchfield, a sociologist at the University of Washington; Tony Fabelo of the Council of State Governments Justice Center; Marie Gottschalk, professor of political science at the University of Pennsylvania; Craig Haney, professor of psychology at the University of California, Santa Cruz; Randall Kennedy, a law professor at Harvard University; Glenn C. Loury, professor of social sciences and economics at Brown University; Sara McLanahan, professor of sociology and public affairs at Princeton University; Lawrence Mead, professor of politics and public policy at New York University; Ann Morrison Piehl, professor of economics at Rutgers University; Daniel Nagin, professor of public policy and statistics at  Carnegie Mellon University; Devah Pager, a professor of sociology at Princeton;  Robert Sampson, professor of social sciences at Harvard and president of the American Society of Criminology; Michael Tonry, professor of law of the University of Minnesota; Avelardo Valdez, professor of social work at the University of Southern California; and Bruce Western, professor of sociology at Harvard.