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Dr. Sara Wakefield



Ph.D. (2007) Sociology, University of Minnesota; M.S. (2001) Sociology, University of Wisconsin; B.A. (1998) Sociology (Law, Crime, and Deviance), University of Minnesota

Office Location

CLJ, 579C

Office Hours

See course syllabi for by-semester office hours

Areas of Specialization

Incarceration and Reentry
Stratification and Inequality
Life Course, Family and Childhood Wellbeing


Sara Wakefield received her Ph.D. from the Department of Sociology at the University of Minnesota. Her research interests focus on the consequences of mass imprisonment for the family, with an emphasis on childhood wellbeing and racial inequality, culminating in a series of articles and book, Children of the Prison Boom: Mass Incarceration and the Future of American Inequality (Oxford University Press, with Chris Wildeman). More recently, a series of team-based projects that provide original data on the consequences of contact with the criminal legal system that are not easily captured in available datasets (PINS, WO-PINS, and FamHIS) and recent demographic analyses estimate the number of people in the United States with a felony conviction and the prevalence of termination of parental rights among U.S. children. Her current work is focused on sibling overlap in crime, punishment, and the consequences of criminal legal system contact.

Website/Google Scholar


Google scholar page

Current Grants:

2024-2026: Co-Investigator/Consultant. “A Social Scientific Approach to Intimate Partner Violence and Partner Femicide.” Rockwool Foundation & Duke University.

Recent & Key Publications:

Wakefield, S., Baker G., & Wildeman, C. (2024). “The Consequences of Sibling Criminal Legal System Contact for Family Life.” Journal of Marriage and Family 86, 4: 931-945.

Wakefield, S. (2022). “Criminal Justice Reform and Inequality.” American Journal of Criminal Justice 47, 6: 1186-1203.

Wakefield, S., & Andersen, L. H. (2020). Pretrial Detention and the Costs of System Overreach for Employment and Family Life. Sociological Science 7: 342-366.

Enns, P. K., Yi, Y., Comfort, M., Goldman, A. W., Lee, H., Muller, C., Wakefield, S., Wang, E.A., & Wildeman, C. (2019).  What Percentage of Americans Have Ever Had a Family Member Incarcerated?  Evidence from the History of Incarceration Survey (FamHIS). Socius 5: 1-45.

Turney, K., & Wakefield, S. (2019). Criminal Justice Contact and Inequality. RSF: The Russell Sage Foundation Journal of the Social Sciences 5: 1-23.

Kirk, D. S., & Wakefield, S. (2018). Collateral Consequences of Punishment: A Critical Review and Path ForwardAnnual Review of Criminology 1: 171-194.

Wakefield, S., & Wildeman, C. (2013). Children of the Prison Boom: Mass Incarceration and the Future of American Inequality. New York: Oxford University Press.

Wakefield, S., & Uggen, C. (2010). Incarceration and StratificationAnnual Review of Sociology 36: 387-406.