Patrice D. Collins is the 2024 winner of the Yale Sociology department’s 21st Century Dissertation Prize, for her dissertation ‘Everybody is Locked Up’: Families with Incarcerated Loved Ones.

May 14, 2024

Patrice Collins’ 2022 dissertation, ‘Everybody is Locked Up’: Families with Incarcerated Loved Ones, is an outstanding ethnographic study that renders and explains the ways in which ordinary, everyday policing effectively criminalizes a significant portion of the impoverished local Black community, while simultaneously working to delegitimate the wider systems of social control and alienate local Black residents.

The life crisis caused by virtually every arrest ripples through the local community, demoralizing but also activating an informal system of help from neighbors, friends and relatives who, to the extent that they can, intervene to care for children and provide critical support for the arrestees, both emotionally and materially.

In the context of persistent urban poverty and an epidemic of interpersonal violence, Collins’ research sheds new light on the lived experience of local Black residents, especially how they cope with the structural poverty and racism impacting their everyday lives.

More particularly, her ethnographic research illustrates the way inner-city people experience everyday trauma, first as crime victims, and then as victims of the police, as a high proportion of police contacts result in incarceration, directly impacting poor Black families. 

But critically important, the most vulnerable victims are the children who are directly orphaned by mass incarceration, and a culture of everyday trauma.

Hence, through her astute ethnographic observations, by listening to what her subjects say and by watching what they do, Patrice Collins makes a significant contribution to existing knowledge and to our understanding of these critically important urban issues.