Adelbert H. Sweet Professor of Law
Faculty Co-Director, Stanford Criminal Justice Center
Dr. Joan Petersilia has spent more than 25 years studying the performance of U.S. criminal justice agencies and has been instrumental in affecting sentencing and corrections reform in California and throughout the United States. She is the author of 11 books about crime and public policy, and her research on parole reform, prisoner reintegration and sentencing policy has fueled changes in policies throughout the nation. A criminologist with a background in empirical research and social science, Dr. Petersilia is also faculty co-director for the Stanford Criminal Justice Center (SCJC), focusing on policies related to crime control, sentencing, and corrections, and developing nonpartisan analyses and recommendations intended to aid public officials, legal practitioners, and the public in understanding criminal justice policy at the state and national levels.
Before joining the Stanford Law School faculty, Dr. Petersilia was a professor of criminology, law and society in the School of Social Ecology at the University of California, Irvine, and director of UCI’s Center for Evidence-Based Corrections. She also previously served as a special advisor to Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, helping to reorganize juvenile and adult corrections and working with the California State Legislature to implement prison and parole reform. She recently chaired Governor Schwarzenegger’s Rehabilitation Strike Team and was also co-chair of California’s expert panel on offender programs. Dr. Petersilia is a former director of the Criminal Justice Program at the RAND Corporation; former president of the American Society of Criminology; former co-director of the National Research Council’s study on Community Supervision and Desistance from Crime; and former director of the National Research Council’s study on Crime Victims with Developmental Disabilities.
Professor Petersilia was chosen by Stanford University as the recipient of the 2013 Roland Volunteer Service Prize. The Roland prize recognizes Stanford faculty who involve students in integrating academic scholarship with significant volunteer service to society.