Criminology and Criminal Justice

507 Chafee Building, 10 Chafee Road, Kingston, RI 02881

401.874.2587 (ph); 401.874.2588 (f)

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Dr. Natalie A. Pifer

  • Assistant Professor of Criminology & Criminal Justice
  • Chafee Hall, Rm 510
  • Phone: 401.874.2256
  • Email:


Natalie Pifer joined the University of Rhode Island as an Assistant Professor of Criminology and Criminal Justice in fall 2017. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism and politics, a master’s degree in social ecology, a doctorate in criminology law, and society, and a law degree.

Her research draws from punishment and social control as well as law and society to examine criminal justice reform. These interdisciplinary fields frame a scholarly agenda substantively focused on understanding how legal categories drive—or frustrate—changes in policing, punishing, and incarcerating vulnerable groups such as juveniles, the mentally ill or disabled, and the unsheltered. Her most recent research examines how reforms that promise to better police and incarcerate the mentally ill are designed by criminal justice stakeholders and implemented on the ground by front-line workers. Pifer’s publication trajectory reflects her interdisciplinary approach to research, as her work appears in both peer-reviewed social science journals and in law reviews.

She teaches courses on crime and delinquency and on the criminal justice system’s institutions and actors.


  • Criminal justice policy
  • Criminal & civil rights law
  • Extreme punishments
  • Legal history
  • Policing
  • Prisons & jails
  • Qualitative research methods


  • Ph.D. in Criminology, Law, and Society, University of California, Irvine, 2017
  • M.A. in Social Ecology, University of California, Irvine, 2014
  • J.D., Loyola Law School, 2011
  • B.A. in Journalism and Politics, New York University, 2008


Articles & Book Chapter


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