Researcher, Professor of Criminal Justice
Influenced by her experiences as a sister and aunt of two men serving life sentences, Dr. Willingham’s research focuses on mass incarceration’s impact on Black families and how trauma informs Black women’s experiences in the criminal legal system. Her work on incarcerated fathers and their children, Black women’s prison narratives, teaching in women’s prisons, and Black women and police violence has been published in academic journals and edited collections.
Dr. Willingham has presented her research at academic conferences nationally and internationally, given lectures at universities in the United States and the United Kingdom, and facilitated writing and reentry workshops in women’s and men’s prisons. She has also appeared on numerous webinars and podcasts, sharing her expertise on race, gender, and crime, and higher education in prison.
Dr. Willingham is co-founder of the Jamii (pronounced JAH-ME) Sisterhood, an organization that offers a safe and innovative space for Black women working in higher education in prison. She also served as the first Managing Editor of the Journal of Higher Education in Prison, which publishes solely on the topics and issues about higher education in prison.
Dr. Willingham is the editor of the anthology Punishment and Society, which she purposefully curated for educators who teach about the societal ramifications of incarceration. The reader includes a collection of interdisciplinary readings focusing on race and gender in prison, incarceration’s financial and emotional impact on families and children, and mass incarceration’s impact on communities. Dr. Willingham is currently writing two books – one about missing and murdered Black women and girls, and the other about Black women in higher education in prison.
TOPICS: Criminal Justice, Policy, Women & Girls of Color