Michael C Campbell

Associate Professor

What I do

I research changes in law and policy that affect punishment, primarily in the United States. Much of my work focuses on state-level socioeconomic and political forces that affect state prison populations.


Penal policy; state politics; corrections; history, race and punishment

Professional Biography

Michael Campbell is an associate professor in the Department of Sociology and Criminology at the University of Denver His research employs mixed research methods to examine the social, historical and political forces that shape law and policy, especially those associated with mass incarceration. His work has been published in the American Journal of Sociology, Law and Society Review, Criminology, Punishment and Society and other sociological and criminological journals.


  • Ph.D., Criminology, Law & Society, University of California, Irvine, 2009
  • MA, European History, Indiana University, 2000
  • BA, History, Indiana University, 1995


My current research work includes a project funded by the National Science Foundation (with co-PI Heather Schoenfeld) that examines state-level criminal justice reforms that affect correctional populations and mass incarceration. The goal is to compare and contrast reforms across state contexts since 2000 to better understand how state and national forces have shaped policy reform efforts in the United States. This work aims to provide new insights into what types of actors and organizations deploy different resources in their efforts to shape penal policy. The ultimate goal is to identify successful paths away from mass incarceration and toward criminal justice policies that address rather than reinforce inequality.

Featured Publications

Campbell, M. C. (2016). Are all politics local? A case study of local conditions in a period of law and order politics. Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 664(March), 43-61.