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Brittany Friedman

Assistant Professor of Sociology, University of Southern California
Chapter Member: Los Angeles Unified SSN
Areas of Expertise:

About Brittany

Dr. Friedman is a sociologist and expert on cover-ups, prisons, and the dark side of institutions. Friedman is co-founder of the Captive Money Lab and an Affiliated Scholar of the American Bar Foundation. Her first book, Carceral Apartheid: How Lies and White Supremacists Run Our Prisons, will be released in fall 2024 and traces how the enduring legacy of white supremacist alliances between incarcerated civilians and law enforcement shines a light on U.S. empire and carceral governance. Friedman frequently engages in public sociology through writing, interviews, and as a producer for documentary films.

In the News

Quoted by Katie Moore in "Missouri Wants To Take Money Prisoner Got After His Mom’s Death To Pay for His Incarceration," The Kansas City Star, March 25, 2024.
Quoted by Daniel P. Smith in "Unveiling Hidden Injustice: The Truth Behind ‘Pay-To-Stay’ Prison Policies," USC Dornsife News, February 12, 2024.
Guest on Systemic, January 4, 2024.
Research discussed by Libor Jany, in "LAPD to Use AI to Analyze Body Cam Videos for Officers’ Language Use," Los Angeles Times, August 22, 2023.
Quoted by Robin Wilson-Glover in "Why the Verdict in the George Floyd Case Matters in New Jersey," Advance Local, February 15, 2023.
Quoted by Brianna Holt in "Why Women of Color Are Missing From TikTok’s ‘Stay-at-Home Girlfriend’ Trend," Business Insider, December 3, 2022.
Quoted by Ruqaiyah Zarook in "Abolish the Debt Sentence," The Nation, March 22, 2022.
Guest on WKAR Public Media, March 4, 2022.
Guest on The Untold Story: Criminal Injustice, March 1, 2022.
Quoted by Nicole Froio in "What Happens to People of Color After Weed Is Legal?," ZORA, December 16, 2020.
Interviewed in "Rutgers Professor Discusses Pay-To-Stay Practice, Criminal Justice Reform," (with Joanne Chung) The Daily Targum, December 2, 2020.
Quoted by Stephen Loiaconi in "Cuts to Police Funding Amid Rising Crime in Some Cities Spur Controversy," ABC30 News, September 23, 2020.
Interviewed in "Black Radical Prisoner Organizing Didn’t Die With George Jackson," (with Jonah Walters) Jacobin, August 21, 2020.
Guest on This Is Hell!, September 29, 2018.


"White Unity and Prisoner-Officer Alliances" Contexts 21, no. 3 (2022): 28-33.

Explores the relationship between law enforcement and white supremacists, highlighting how alliances between prisoners and correctional officers reinforce the privileges of white power.

"The “Damaged” State vs. the “Willful” Nonpayer: Pay-to-Stay and the Social Construction of Damage, Harm, and Moral Responsibility in a Rent-Seeking Society" (with April D. Fernandes and Gabriela Kirk). The Russell Sage Foundation Journal of the Social Sciences 8, no. 1 (2022): 82-105.

Shows how states increasingly view incarcerated individuals as a source of revenue to offset the costs of incarceration, often by suing them for these expenses. Examines how states construct the narrative of damage, harm, and willfulness in pay-to-stay lawsuits against prisoners, revealing that states label incarcerated individuals as willful nonpayers in an effort to frame them as morally responsible for the damages suffered.

"Toward a Critical Race Theory of Prison Order in the Wake of COVID-19 and Its Afterlives: When Disaster Collides with Institutional Death by Design" Sociological Perspectives 64, no. 5 (2021): 689-705.

Traces racial disparities embedded within American prisons that exacerbate the harm of the COVID-19 pandemic on imprisoned Black people. Explores why prisons are particularly vulnerable to COVID-19, identifying institutional parameters such as the prioritization of institutional survival over human survival and management of uncertainty through strategies that prioritize the institution's existence over the well-being of incarcerated individuals.