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Robert Johnson

Professor Department of Justice, Law & Criminology

Professor Johnson's areas of expertise include the prison and other institutions of punishment and confinement, the death penalty, institutional violence, and race and justice in America. He has published extensively in these areas. He has testified or provided expert affidavits before state and federal courts, the U.S. Congress, and the European Commission of Human Rights. Courses Professor Johnson teaches include Violence in Institutions, Violence in America, The Prison Community, Advanced Seminar in Corrections, and Corrections in America.


PhD State University of New York, Albany
MA State University of New York, Albany
BA Fairfield University

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SPA - Justice, Law and Criminology
Kerwin Hall - 254
Contact Info
(202) 885-2951

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For the Media
To request an interview for a news story, call AU Communications at 202-885-5950 or submit a request.


  • Fall 2018

    • CORE-107 Complex Problems Seminar: Harsh Justice
    • Description
    • JLC-444 Topics in Criminal Justice: Extreme Punishments
    • Description
    • JLC-696 Selected Topics:Non-Recurring: Extreme Punishments
    • Description

AU Expert

Area of Expertise:

Death penalty, prisons, creative writing on crime and punishment, race and jutice in America, institutional violence, corrections

Additional Information:

Robert Johnson's social science books include Culture and Crisis in Confinement; Condemned to Die: Life Under Sentence of Death; Hard Time: Understanding and Reforming the Prison; and Death Work: A Study of the Modern Execution Process.Johnson has edited five social science books: The Pains of Imprisonment (with Hans Toch); Crime and Punishment: Inside Views (with Hans Toch); Life without Parole: Living and Dying in Prison Today (with Sonia Tabriz, an AU honors alum); A Life for a Life: America’s Other Death Penalty (with Thomas Bernard), and A Woman Doing Life: Notes from a Prison for Women. Johnson’s best known work of social science—Death Work: A Study of the Modern Execution Process—won the Outstanding Book Award of the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences. Johnson's creative writing includes four collections of original poems: Poetic Justice: Reflections on the Big House, the Death House, and the American Way of Justice, winner of the L.I.F.E. award from WilloTrees Press; Burnt Offerings: Poems on Crime and Punishment; Sunset Sonata: Stories and Poems from the River’s Edge, and most recently, A Zoo Near You (which includes contributions by current and former AU students). His book, Lethal Rejection: Stories on Crime and Punishment (coedited with Sonia Tabriz, an AU honors alum), features many of his short stories and plays. Johnson’s creative writing has appeared in Admit2, The American Review, Black Bear Review, The National Catholic Reporter, Carnelian, CMC (Crime Media Culture), Dan River Anthology, JMWW, Lifelines, Mannequin Envy, Pleasant Living Magazine, Tacenda Literary Magazine, and Wild Violet. His short story “The Practice of Killing” won a national fiction contest sponsored by Wild Violet magazine. His first novel, Miller’s Revenge, was published by Brown Paper Publishing in 2010. Johnson’s best known work of social science—Death Work: A Study of the Modern Execution Process—won the Outstanding Book Award of the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences.

Media Relations
To request an interview please call AU Media Relations at 202-885-5950 or submit an interview request form.

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