Center on Sentencing and Corrections

Barbara Owen, PhD

Barbara Owen, PhD

Dr. Barbara Owen is a national expert in the areas of girls, women, and crime; gender issues in the criminal justice system; and women’s prison culture. She is a professor emerita of criminology at California State University, Fresno, and has extensive experience conducting ethnographies, large-scale surveys, policy studies, and program evaluations. Prior to her career in academia, Dr. Owen was a senior researcher with the Federal Bureau of Prisons.

The author of 20 articles and chapters and numerous technical reports, Dr. Owen’s books include In the Mix: Struggle and Survival in a Women’s Prison (SUNY Press, 1998). Along with Barbara Bloom and Stephanie Covington, she co-authored a major report, Gender-Responsive Strategies: Research, Practice, and Guiding Principles for Women Offenders, in 2003. More recent projects include an analysis of women’s recidivism; research and policy work on prison realignment in California; co-authoring the policy report Unlocking America: Why and How to Reduce America’s Prison Population (a National Institute of Justice-sponsored study that investigated the context of sexual assault in women’s prisons and jails), and ethnographic work for the U.S. Census Bureau.

Dr. Owen serves as a policy advisor to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. Her work with the Prison Rape Elimination Act continues through a National Institute of Corrections validation project to develop and distribute an instrument that assesses the safety and violence climate in women’s facilities. Dr. Owen also works with the Thailand Institute of Justice on international policy issues regarding women offenders. She holds a PhD in sociology from the University of California, Berkeley.