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Jason Williams

Associate Professor, Justice Studies

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Ph.D., Administration of Justice, Texas Southern University
M.A., Criminal Justice, New Jersey City University
B.A., Criminal Justice, New Jersey City University

Research Interests

Aside from doing research for the academic audience, Dr. Williams is also involved in many public research and information forums enabling him to contribute to public criminology and scholarship. For instance, he has worked alongside the NJ Institute for Social Justice, helping to mobilize the community and legislative support for the eventual passage of NJ's Restorative and Transformative Justice for Youths and Communities Pilot Program bill. This resulted in the state providing over 8 million dollars in support of community-based alternatives for youth entangled in the juvenile justice system. He is also engaged in a similar project, but with a focus on Drug Policy. With support from Open Society Foundations, he's overseeing an initiative whose purpose is to engage public education programming around Harm Reduction and Drug Policy in Northern NJ. This project aids in demythologizing stereotypes and misinformation about people who use drugs, and provides critical critique and solutions around drug policy writ large.

He has also published commentary and opinion pieces at Uprooting Criminology, Truthout,, NJ Monitor, and other outlets. He has also been quoted in notable news outlets such as The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, South Florida Sun-Sentinel, North Jersey, NJ Spotlight News, The San Francisco Chronicle, Newsweek, and other outlets. Prior to joining Montclair State University, he was an assistant professor of criminal justice at Fairleigh Dickinson University. In addition, Dr. Williams has taught a variety of criminal justice and sociology courses at New Jersey City University, Texas Southern University, and John Jay College of Criminal Justice.

He is co-editor of Black Males and the Criminal Justice System, recently published by Routledge. In addition to having conducted on-the-ground critical ethnographic research in Ferguson MO and Baltimore MD following the deaths of Michael Brown and Freddie Gray. Dr. Williams also engages qualitative research around those returning home from prison. More broadly, he has published peer-reviewed chapters and articles on matters relating to race, policing, critical criminology, and social justice.

Moreover, Dr. Williams is actively involved in the American Society of Criminology (ASC). For example, he previously served as the secretary/treasurer for the Division on People of Color and Crime within the ASC. He has also served on various committees within the ASC and the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences. He has served as a journal and book proposal reviewer for a dozen journals and publishers and has served as a guest speaker in a number of venues like Old Dominion University, Augustana College, Virginia State University, York University, Yale University, and others. He also has experience in conducting new program reviews and evaluations.

Selected Publications, Presentations & Op-Eds

Williams, J.M., & Kniffley, S. (Eds.) (2019). Black Males and the Criminal Justice System. London: Routledge.

Williams, J.M. (2019). Special Issue: “Race as a Carceral Terrain: Black Lives Matter Meets Reentry.” The Prison Journal 99(4), 387-395.

Williams, J.M., Wilson, S., Bergeson, C. (2019). “It’s Hard Out Here if You’re a Black Felon”: A Critical Examination of Black Male Reentry. The Prison Journal 99(4), 437-458.

Battle, N., & Williams, J.M. (2019). An Intersectional Criminology Analysis of Black Women’s Collective Resistance. In Middlemass K.M. & Smiley C. (Eds.). Prison Reentry in the 21st Century: Critical Perspectives on Returning Home, 1st Ed (Ebook, Chap 13). NY: Routledge.

Williams, J.M. (2019). Black Males and their Experiences with Policing Under the “Iconic Ghetto” in Ferguson, Missouri. In Williams, J.M., & Kniffley, S. (Eds.). Black Males and the Criminal Justice System (11-20). NY: Routledge.

Williams, J.M., & Battle, N. (2017) African Americans and Punishment for Crime: A Critique of Mainstream and Neoliberal Discourses. Journal of Offender Rehabilitation 56(8), 552-566.

Williams, J.M (2017). Race and Justice Outcomes: Examining the Contemporary Purpose of the American Criminal Justice System. Ralph Bunche Journal of Public Affairs 6(1), article 5.

Williams, J.M., & Wilson, S. (2020). Contextualizing the Impact Incarceration and Reentry have on Black men’s Health: A Critical Examination. Presented at the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences Conference, San Antonio, TX.

Williams, J.M., Garcia, E., & Alaniz, H. (2020). On the Racial and Gendered, Criminalizing Effects of Truancy on Mothers of Color. Presented at the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences Conference, San Antonio, TX.

Wilson, S. & Williams, J.M. (2020). Surviving while Black in the Criminal Justice Classroom. Presented at the Eastern Sociological Sociology Conference, Philadelphia, PA.

Williams, J. (2019). Roundtable: A Conversation with Scholars on Underrepresented Research \sTopics and Methods. Presented at the American Society of Criminology Conference, San \sFrancisco, CA.

Williams, J.M. (2019). Roundtable: Achieving Social Justice Through Community Activism. Presented at the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences Conference, Baltimore, MD.

Wilson, S.K., Williams, J (2019). “I don’t have much trust in police”: A Qualitative Assessment of Black Males and their Experiences and Perceptions Under Police Surveillance in Baltimore. Presented at the Eastern Sociological Society Conference, Boston, MA.

Williams, J. (2018). Roundtable: It’s not Race, its Racism: Shifting the Narrative about Race and Crime. Presented at the American Society of Criminology Conference, Atlanta, GA.

Williams, J. (2018). Intersectionality, #MeToo, and Framing our Future. Presented at the American Society of Criminology Conference, Atlanta, GA.

Williams, J., Johnson-Register, L., & Johnson-Register, Mi. (2018). Creating and Undoing Legacies of Resilience: Black Women as Martyrs in the Black Community Under Oppressive Social Control. Presented at the American Society of Criminology Conference, Atlanta, GA.

Williams, J. (2015, Aug) Doing Ferguson and Baltimore at the Intersection of Racial Oppression and Hopelessness. Uprooting Criminology: Reprinted on Hampton Institution: Reprinted on Truthout

Williams, J. (2015, May) On the Unasked Question of Morality in Police Shootings of Black Bodies.

Williams, J. (2014, Dec 22). “The Hunger Games”-ification of US Police and the Community. Truthout.

Williams, J. (2014, Oct 24). Policing the Blacks: Ferguson and Past Histories. Hampton Institution. Reprinted on Truth Out:


His areas of specialization are race, ethnicity, gender, and justice; criminological/criminal justice theory; critical criminology; critical policing; social control; criminal justice policy; qualitative methods; and the sociology of knowledge.


Office Hours


10:00 am - 12:00 pm
11:00 am - 12:00 pm


Research Projects

Contemporary Ethical Issues in the Criminal Justice System (First Edition)

Contemporary Ethical Issues in the Criminal Justice System steps away from the conventional theoretical frameworks and sociohistorical foundations of criminal justice ethics to focus on the practical problems and controversies that regularly occur within the criminal justice system. Designed to be concise yet comprehensive, the book helps students understand and interpret practical realities within ethical contexts.

Students will learn about topical issues such as racial disparities within the system and community-oriented justice. They will explore practices in policing and training, mass incarceration, and the war on drugs. They will become familiar with the intersection of criminal justice and sociological issues through chapters on gender and family issues and mental health. All chapters begin with an overview that breaks the topic down to make it fully accessible to readers. End-of-chapter conclusions and discussion questions are designed to support retention and encourage critical thinking.

Featuring high-interest, real-world examples Contemporary Ethical Issues in the Criminal Justice System provides much needed information and insight for students interested in careers as criminal justice professionals. The book is well-suited to courses in criminal justice issues and ethics.

African Americans and punishment for crime: A critique of mainstream and neoliberal discourses

Understandings of punishment within the criminological enterprise have failed to capture the nuances associated with experiencing punishment. Moreover, mainstream academic discourses are inherently anachronistic in their conclusions on punishment, thus leaving significant gaps to be filled. One such gap is that of racialized history. This article attempts to make sense of punishment discourses (past and present) by situating them in their proper context. We argue that punishment, in particular for Blacks, is ideological and longstanding. Moreover, we posit that the prolonged punishment of Blacks is hypermanifested in contemporary society via neoliberal logics that have increasingly disabled race as a central focal point in punishment discourses (in both political and academic contexts). We use established literature to bolster arguments and conclude with suggestions for future research.

Race and Justice Outcomes: Contextualizing Racial Discrimination and Ferguson

While scores of literature may hint at the tumultuous relationship between the criminal justice system and Blacks, such literature, however, fail to assess, comprehensively, the intersectional purpose of present criminal justice processes and race. This paper will examine contemporary applications of justice along racial lines. It is argued that current justice outcomes are advantageous to the status quo. It is no secret that the American system of justice has a race problem; however, if the goal is to administer justice then, as this paper argues, the current system needs to be seriously examined and rebuilt. The paper also argues that the criminal justice system is purposely selective, undemocratic, and contributes to the creation of criminal casting at the behest of white supremacy. A brief analysis of the Department of Justice’s report on Ferguson is used to articulate the arguments. Implications for future research are considered.

A Critical Analysis of Race and the Administration of Justice

The anthology A Critical Analysis of Race and the Administration of Justice offers historical and contemporary perspectives on critical issues in the administration of justice and places these issues within a variety of theoretical and sociological contexts. The book focuses on each stage of the criminal justice system—police, courts, and corrections—and examines the way justice is administered differently to certain groups within the overall population.

A Critical Analysis of Race and the Administration of Justice begins with a piece written in 1941 that explores the ways in which societal responses to crime were influenced by abuses of police powers and differential treatment of African-Americans in the court system. As the reading selections progress through the next seventy years and more, students will learn about contemporary race and justice topics such as public opinion, sentencing and youth incarceration.

Designed to encourage critical thinking and stimulate dialogue, A Critical Analysis of Race and the Administration of Justice, is ideal for introductory criminal justice classes, and those that deal with issues of race, gender, and crime.

Black Males and the Criminal Justice System

Relying on a multidisciplinary framework of inquiry and critical perspective, this edited volume addresses the unique experiences of Black males within various stages of contact in the criminal justice system. It provides a comprehensive overview of the administration of justice, mental and physical health issues faced by Black males, and reintegration into society after system involvement.

Recent events—including but by no means limited to the shootings of unarmed Black men by police in Ferguson, Missouri; Baltimore; Minneapolis; and Chicago—have highlighted the disproportionate likelihood of young Black males to encounter the criminal justice system. Black Males and the Criminal Justice System provides a theoretical and empirical review of the need for an intersectional understanding of Black male experiences and outcomes within the criminal justice system. The intersectional approach, which posits that outcomes of societal experiences are determined by the way the interconnected identities of individuals are perceived and responded to by others, is key to recognizing the various forms of oppression that Black males experience, and the impact these experiences have on them and their families.

This book is intended for students and scholars in criminology, criminal justice, sociology, race/ethnic studies, legal studies, psychology, and African American Studies, and will serve as a reference for researchers who wish to utilize a progressive theoretical approach to study social control, policing, and the criminal justice system.

“It’s Hard Out Here if You’re a Black Felon”: A Critical Examination of Black Male Reentry

Formerly incarcerated Black males face many barriers once they return to society after incarceration. Research has long established incarceration as a determinant of poor health and well-being. While research has shown that legally created barriers (e.g., employment, housing, and social services) are often a challenge post-incarceration, far less is known of Black male’s daily experiences of reentry. Utilizing critical ethnography and semi-structured interviews with formerly incarcerated Black males in a Northeastern community, this study examines the challenges Black males experience post-incarceration.

Race as a Carceral Terrain: Black Lives Matter Meets Reentry

In the United States, racialized people are disproportionately selected for punishment. Examining punishment discourses intersectionally unearths profound, unequal distinctions when controlling for the variety of victims’ identities within the punishment regime. For example, trans women of color are likely to face the harshest of realties when confronted with the prospect of punishment. However, missing from much of the academic carceral literature is a critical perspective situated in racialized epistemic frameworks. If racialized individuals are more likely to be affected by punishment systems, then, certainly, they are the foremost experts on what those realities are like. The Black Lives Matter hashtag came about during the aftermath of the George Zimmerman non-verdict in the killing of Trayvon Martin, and it helped to cultivate the organization which turned into a multiracial international movement in defense of Black dignity and humanity. While Black Lives Matter was initially inspired by police violence, it has expanded its reach to include causes beyond police malpractice and brutality. This special issue of The Prison Journal seeks to merge principles associated with Black Lives Matter (as noted on their website) with critical issues endemic to community reentry after incarceration and the racialized and gendered impediments it produces. The empirical pieces included are qualitative to reflect the epistemologies of the affected, as we believe that narratives more powerfully capture these hard-to-reach (or deviant in comparison to the norm) perspectives. This special issue includes articles that critically foreground the voices of formerly incarcerated citizens (including some who are mothers and fathers) and reentry service providers. Importantly, it provides suggestions for new directions in reimagining a more democratic and racially equitable society without current punishment regimes.

Health Implications of Incarceration and Reentry on Returning Citizens: A Qualitative Examination of Black Men’s Experiences in a Northeastern City

While a great deal of research captures the lived experiences of Black men as they navigate through the criminal legal system and onto reentry, very little research is grounded in how those processes are directly connected to their health. Although some research argues that mass incarceration is a determinant of poor health, there is a lack of qualitative analyses from the perspective of Black men. Black men face distinct pathways that lead them into the criminal legal system, and these same pathways await them upon reentry. This study aims to examine the health implications associated with incarceration and reentry of Black men. While adopting a phenomenological approach alongside interviews, our findings show both race- and gender-specific outcomes for the men in our sample. For example, health and wellness appears to be a significant theme that governs their (in)ability to matriculate society. Moreover, their contact with the criminal legal system appears to exacerbate health concerns and hindrances toward reentry. Other themes include mental health and the role of masculinity. We conclude with implications on policy and future research.

Creating and Undoing Legacies of Resilience: Black Women as Martyrs in the Black Community Under Oppressive Social Control

This paper contextualizes the struggles and contributions of Black motherhood and reproductive justice under police surveillance in Baltimore, Maryland. We conducted semi-structured interviews with mothers regarding their experiences and perceptions of policing in their community during the aftermath of the police-involved death of Freddie Gray. While the literature disproportionately focuses on Black males, little knowledge is known about the struggles and contributions of Black mothers in matters concerning police brutality and the fight against institutional violence. There still remains the question regarding the role of and impact on Black mothers during matters of institutional violence against Black children. We fill this gap by highlighting narratives and lived knowledges within a Black motherhood perspective. Primary themes show that Black women are subject to terror from police and system agents, they face reproductive justice issues, as they are criminalized as mothers—and are affected mentally, but they employ various resistance strategies that strengthen their resilience. Results indicate that Black women are the backbone and martyrs of their communities, but this comes at a tremendous cost because they remain largely unprotected and subject to immeasurable institutional violence and judgment against their mothering strategies.