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.
DegreesPhD 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
- Ward - 254
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- JLC-596 Selected Topics:Non-Recurring: Women in Prison
Area of Expertise: Death penalty, prisons, creative writing on crime and punishment
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, which received the Outstanding Book Award of the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences. 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 most recently, A Woman Doing Life: Notes from a Prison for Women. Johnson has published widely in academic journals, including law review articles. 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. His work, Cell Buddy, has been read at the Kennedy Center. 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.
To request an interview please call AU Media Relations at 202-885-5950 or submit an interview request form.
AU News and Achievements
Use of Fiction by SPA Professor Prompts Book with Students
Robert Johnson teaches criminal justice, but he’s also a writer. Now some of his students are writers, ...
SPA Professor and Student Publish Legal Argument Against Juvenile “Death by Incarceration”
Dead kids walking. That’s how professor Robert Johnson and student Sonia Tabriz refer to the nearly ...