Katherine Beckett is a Professor in the Department of Sociology and the Law, Societies, and Justice Program. She is also a faculty affiliate of the West Coast Poverty Center and Clowes Center for the Study of Conflict and Dialogue, and a faculty associate and steering committee member of the Center for Human Rights at the University of Washington.
Beckett received her Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of California at Los Angeles in 1994. Her research analyzes the causes and consequences of legal changes and penal practices. Beckett's early research analyzed how and why crime-related issues assumed a central place on the U.S. political agenda, and why enhanced punishment was embraced as the best solution to these problems. More recent research projects have explored the consequences of penal expansion for social inequality, the role of race in drug law enforcement, and the transformation of urban social control practices in the United States. She is the author of numerous articles and three books on these topics, including, most recently, Banished: The New Social Control in Urban America, published in 2010 by Oxford University Press and nominated for the C. Wright Mills Book Award.
Beckett's work has been supported by the National Science Foundation, Allen Family Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the Washington State Minority & Justice Commission, the Open Society Institute, and others. She has received numerous awards for her research, teaching and service work, including the University of Washington's Public Service Award. She was elected to the Washington State Academy of Sciences in 2016. Beckett also works closely with a number of civic organizations, including the Racial Disparity Project and Columbia Legal Services.