Michelle Inderbitzin

Oregon State University
Sociology, School of Public Policy

307 Fairbanks Hall
Corvallis, OR
mli@oregonstate.edu |  Visit Personal Website

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My research interests include prison culture, juvenile justice, and the possibilities of transformative education. I frequently teach college courses in state prisons and in juvenile correctional facilities, so I have many opportunities to think about how these fields come together and overlap.

Inderbitzin, Michelle. 2007. “Inside a Maximum-Security Juvenile Training School: Institutional Attempts to Redefine the American Dream and Normalize Incarcerated Youth.” Punishment & Society 9 (3): 235-251.
Abstract: The focus of this article is on attempts within a juvenile correctional facility to `normalize' adolescent inmates and to deflate or redirect their goals and aspirations. Many young offenders have been socialized to fully embrace the `American Dream'. For the teenage boys in this study, the American Dream was about the attainment of wealth and masculine prestige. Lacking legitimate opportunities to attain wealth through conforming means, most turned to criminal enterprises, leading to their incarceration. In this article, I argue that juvenile correctional facilities are one of the last bastions of the `old penology' and one latent task of such institutions is to level the aspirations of young inmates so that they will face fewer anomic conditions when released back into the community. Drawing on ethnographic research of a cottage for violent offenders at one state's maximum-security juvenile training school, I demonstrate how cottage staff members play a central role in modeling conforming behaviors, strategies and attitudes for their institutional `sons', encouraging the boys to `aim low' and adopt aspirations and goals more in line with the opportunities available to them in the community.
DOI: 10.1177/1462474507077492
Inderbitzin, Michelle. 2009. “Re-entry of Emerging Adults: Adolescent Inmates’ Transition Back into the Community.” Journal of Adolescent Research 24 (4): 453-476
Abstract: This article is based on the sociological analysis of the experiences and perspectives of five young men making the transition out of one state's end-of-the-line maximum security juvenile correctional facility and attempting to reenter the community as emerging adults. As part of a larger ethnographic study of violent offenders in a cottage, these young men shared their observations as they faced their futures with both fear and hope. Upon their release from the institution, they found few people or services to rely on, and they struggled the best way they knew to cope with new and frightening responsibilities of independence and emerging adulthood.
DOI: 10.1177/0743558409336747
Uggen, Christopher, and Michelle Inderbitzin. 2010. “Public Criminologies.” Criminology & Public Policy 9 (4): 725-749.
Abstract: Research SummaryrnrnPublic scholarship aspires to bring social science home to the individuals, communities, and institutions that are its focus of study. In particular, it seeks to narrow the yawning gap between public perceptions and the best available scientific evidence on issues of public concern. Yet nowhere is the gap between perceptions and evidence greater than in the study of crime. Here, we outline the prospects for a public criminology, conducting and disseminating research on crime, law, and deviance in dialogue with affected communities. We present historical data on the media discussion of criminology and sociology, and we outline the distinctive features of criminology?interdisciplinary, a subject matter that incites moral panics, and a practitioner base actively engaged in knowledge production?that push the boundaries of public scholarship.rnrnPolicy ImplicationsrnrnDiscussions of public sociology have drawn a bright line separating policy work from professional, critical, and public scholarship. As the research and policy essays published in Criminology & Public Policy make clear, however, the best criminology often is conducted at the intersection of these domains. A vibrant public criminology will help to bring new voices to policy discussions while addressing common myths and misconceptions about crime.
DOI: 10.1111/j.1745-9133.2010.00666.x

Substantive Focus:
Law and Policy PRIMARY
Education Policy SECONDARY
Social Policy

Theoretical Focus:
Policy Analysis and Evaluation PRIMARY
Public Opinion SECONDARY