Title

The Adams Center Presents: Valerie Jenness, Ph.D.

Document Type

Presentation

Publication Date

11-7-2012

Abstract

"Agnes Goes to Prison: Transgender Prisoners in Prisons for Men and the Olympics of Gender Authenticity Professor Jenness is Dean of the School of Social Ecology and Professor in the Department of Criminology, Law and Society and in the Department of Sociology at the University of California, Irvine. Her research interests are organized around the politics of crime and criminalization; the nexus between law and marginalized communities; and public policy related to social control. Professor Jenness is the author of three books, including Making Hate a Crime: From Social Movement to Law Enforcement Practice (2001), Hate Crimes: New Social Movements and the Politics of Violence (1997), and Making it Work: The Prostitutes' Rights Movement in Perspective (1993), and a vast array of articles published in top-tier academic journals. Over the years, her work has been recognized with awards from the American Sociological Association, the Gustavus Myers Center for the Study of Bigotry and Human Rights in North America, and the Society for the Study of Social Problems, among others. She is frequently invited to speak at universities and governmental bodies both in the United States and internationally. In addition to her extensive record of cutting-edge research, Professor Jenness has recently undertaken work with an array of public officials to develop evidence-based policy related to crime and justice. Most recently, she has worked with the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) to develop historic policy mandating engagement with transgender people in a respectable and fair way during encounters in public as well as in local jails. This work was informed by her research on transgender prisoners, including the first systematic empirical study of transgender inmates in men’s prisons. To do so, she worked with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) to identify all transgender inmates in all California prisons. This was no small task, requiring Professor Jenness to work both collaboratively with, and independently from, the CDCR’s Director of Adult Institutions (to whom all 33 California prison wardens report). To do this, she developed an innovative interview schedule specifically designed to be sensitive to transgender prisoners and to capture a wealth of information on their lives inside and outside of prison. When contacted, 95% of the transgender population in California’s prisons agreed to participate in the study, a stunning participation rate that clearly speaks to Professor Jenness’s unique ability to work with transgender people caught up in the justice system. The Adams Center is proud to present a scholar of this stature to the campus community both as a speaker and as an instructor in the classroom. Indeed, beyond delivering what promises to be an engaging and provocative talk tonight, Professor Jenness has agreed to teach a number of classes at SU, including a senior seminar session in sociology on methods of research involving vulnerable populations and a session on violence against sexual and gender minorities in the Psychology Department. In addition, the Adams Center will offer students and faculty opportunities to meet and interact with Professor Jenness in small groups during her two days on campus.

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