Edith Kinney


Edith Kinney

Associate Professor

Department of Justice Studies


Law and Society; legal mobilization; social movements; criminal justice reform; corrections; human trafficking; sex offending; drug policy; cannabis equity; reentry and record clearance.

Current Research Activities

My research examines social movements and legal mobilization, focused particularly on movements addressing criminal justice reform. This work is deeply interdisciplinary, grounded in the Law and Society tradition that examines the "gap" between law on the books and law in action. Current research projects examine homelessness and reentry services; campus and community policing and public safety interventions; policy reforms to address cannabis equity and address the harms of the "War on Drugs," and a research project partnering with community-based organizations to assess barriers to implementing cannabis record clearance in California.

Research Connections to Current Events

The uprisings and protests of 2020 revealed deep division in public perception of criminal justice institutions, particularly policing. My RSCA work highlights how social norms, a lack of legal literacy, and public perception of crime and criminalized populations can produce counterproductive, harmful, and even deadly consequences.

Personal Connections to Research

I became interested in learning about rights and how to mobilize them after a close family friend began the long process of escaping from her abuser. The challenges of accessing law, the practical limitations of legal protection, and social norms in my small Midwestern town revealed the limitation of "rights" and the need for advocates. Early experiences of harassment, discrimination, and lack of legal services led me to a career in research as well as a law degree from the University of California, Berkeley. The law and debates about it serve as an endlessly interesting terrain of social and cultural conflict, a tool for social control as well as a vehicle of social change.