Sarah Beth Kaufman, Ph.D.
- Associate Professor , Sociology and Anthropology
Sarah Beth Kaufman is a sociologist and critical criminologist, interested broadly in knowledge, culture, politics, and art. She worked as a mitigation specialist in New Orleans during the late 1990’s, helping to secure reduced sentences for impoverished capital murder defendants, before completing a Ph.D. in sociology at New York University, where she also taught for the Bard Prison Initiative at the Bayview Women’s Correctional Facility. Students who take her classes can expect to become sharper readers, writers, and critical thinkers.
Dr. Kaufman’s 2020 book, American Roulette: The Social Logic of Death Penalty Sentencing Trials with University of California Press, is the first systematic ethnography of death penalty trials in the United States. Taking readers inside capital courtrooms across the country, Kaufman shows that the “super due process” accorded capital is the system’s best attempt at fair and impartial criminal sentencing, but fails to create justice. If you want to know how a courthouse in Lubbock, TX compares to one in Brooklyn, NY, she’s a good person to ask. She also co-authored the documentary theatre project, To Be Honest: Voices on Islam from an American City.
"The Criminalization of Muslims in the United States, 2016." Qualitative Sociology, 2019.
“To Be Honest: Voices on Islam During the 2016 Presidential Election.” A one-act play co-authored with William Christ and Habiba Noor, 2017.
“Mourners in the Court: Victims in Death Penalty Trials, Through the Lens of Performance.” Law & Social Inquiry: Journal of the American Bar Foundation, 2017.
"Citizenship and Punishment: Situating Death Penalty Jury Sentencing."Punishment and Society: The International Journal of Penology 13, 3: 333-353, 2011.
"The Criminalization of New Orleanians in Katrina's Wake." Social Science Research Council, 2006.
Dr. Kaufman's publications are available here.