Center on Sentencing and Corrections

Barbara Owen, PhD

Barbara Owen, PhD

Barbara Owen, PhD, is an international expert in the areas of women and imprisonment; improving operational practice in women’s prisons via research; and women’s prison culture. She has extensive experience in conducting mixed methods research, including participant observation, ethnographies, large-scale surveys, policy studies, and program evaluation. Internationally, her work involves implementing human rights protections in women’s prisons with the Thailand Institute of Justice.

A Professor Emerita of Criminology at California State University, Fresno, she received her Ph.D. in Sociology from UC Berkeley in 1984. Prior to returning to academia, Dr. Owen was a Senior Researcher with the Federal Bureau of Prisons. Her books include In Search of Safety: Confronting inequality in women’s imprisonment (University of California Press, 2017; with James Wells and Joy Pollock) and In the Mix: Struggle and Survival in a Women’s Prison (SUNY Press, 1998). Along with Barbara Bloom and Stephanie Covington, she co-authored the policy initiative Gender-Responsive Strategies: Research, Practice, and Guiding Principles for Women Offenders (National Institute of Corrections, 2003). Other projects include empirical work relating to the context of sexual and other forms of safety in women’s prisons; an analysis of women’s recidivism; research and policy work on Realignment in California, and co-authoring the policy report “Unlocking America.” Dr. Owen’s work has been funded by local, state and federal agencies.

Her consulting experience includes several projects with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation; on-going work with the National Institute of Corrections; extensive work with The Moss Group in providing research and policy review of operational practice in women’s facilities; developing architectural design in women’s jails; and evaluation efforts within local probation systems.