Criminology, Law and Society
University of California, Irvine
Ph.D. Sociology, New York University
J.D., Cornell Law School
3375 Social Ecology II
Punishment and social control, law and society, criminal justice, social theory, life sentencing, capital punishment
Christopher Seeds is Assistant Professor in the Department of Criminology, Law and Society at the University of California, Irvine. His research interests encompass punishment writ broadly, including laws, policies, practices, and experiences concerning sentencing, confinement, and prison release. Much of his work takes a historical-sociological approach that generates analyses, explanations, and theoretical insights from empirically detailed examinations of the legal and penal fields. His current research examines very harsh penal laws and practices. One ongoing project studies the emergence of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole (LWOP) as a feature of contemporary punishment in the United States. Another project focuses on contemporary sentencing reform initiatives and the ways in which bifurcation between low-level/serious or nonviolent/violent crime operates as a principle, process, and product of those reforms.
He obtained his Ph.D. in Sociology in 2018 from New York University, supported by awards from the National Science Foundation and Mellon/American Council of Learned Societies. Before then he served as an appellate and post-conviction attorney representing death-sentenced prisoners in South Carolina and New York, worked a visiting scholar with the Cornell Death Penalty Project, and directed the wrongful convictions clinic at Cornell Law School. His writing on punishment has been published in journals including Law & Society Review, Law & Social Inquiry, and Punishment & Society. He has authored and co-authored law review articles on a variety of topics related to capital litigation—including ineffective assistance of counsel, cultural competency in mitigation investigation, and intellectual disability and Eighth Amendment jurisprudence—one of which (coauthored with John H. Blume and Sheri Johnson) was recently cited by the U.S. Supreme Court in Moore v. Texas, 137 S. Ct. 1039 (2017). He continues to be active in seeking legal relief and policy reform for prisoners serving life or long-term sentences.
Seeds, Christopher. 2019. “Life Without Parole Sentencing.” In Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Criminology and Criminal Justice. Oxford University Press. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acrefore/9780190264079.013.465.
Seeds, Christopher. 2019. “Historical Modes of Perpetual Penal Confinement: Theories and Practices Before Life Without Parole.” Law & Social Inquiry 44(2): 305-332.
Seeds, Christopher. 2018. “Disaggregating LWOP: Life Without Parole, Capital Punishment, and Mass Incarceration in Florida, 1972-1995.” Law & Society Review 52(1): 172-205.
Seeds, Christopher. 2017. “Bifurcation Nation: American Penal Policy in Late Mass Incarceration.” Punishment & Society 19(5): 590-610.