Politics Faculty

Anjuli Verma
  • Title
    • Assistant Professor of Politics
  • Division Social Sciences Division
  • Department
    • Politics Department
  • Affiliations Legal Studies, Science & Justice Research Center, Institute for Social Transformation
  • Phone
    831-459-7094 (office)
  • Email
  • Website
  • Office Location
    • Merrill College Faculty Office Annex, Office 163
  • Office Hours Spring 2024 | By Appointment, WEDNESDAYS, 1:30pm-3:00pm (please email for a time slot).
  • Mail Stop Merrill/Crown Faculty Services
  • Mailing Address
    • Politics Department / Merrill Faculty Services / 1156 High St.
    • University of California, Santa Cruz California 95064
  • Faculty Areas of Expertise Law and Policy, Politics, Legal Studies, United States Politics and Government, Discrimination and Inequality, Philosophy of Science, Drug Policy
  • Courses POLITICS 201: Logics of Inquiry (Fall 2024), POLITICS 21: Governing the Golden State (Fall 2024), POLITICS/LEGAL STUDIES 121: Racism & Justice in America (Winter 2025), POLITICS/LEGAL STUDIES 182: The Power to Punish (Spring 2025)
  • Advisees, Grad Students, Researchers Anthony Lara Bencomo, Hugo Galindo, , Shaun Hailey Raguse

Summary of Expertise

While scholarship on mass incarceration in the U.S. has surged in recent decades, Anjuli Verma’s research pivots attention to the phenomenon of prison downsizing and investigates the potential for system-wide decarceration as an emergent 21st-century transformation. At its core, her scholarship aims to discover potential turning points in the development of institutions and the characteristics, conditions and contexts that enable or frustrate change. Dr. Verma’s research and teaching also engages innovations in social science research methods, particularly those attempting to resolve the dilemmas that arise in designing and conducting mixed-methods studies.

Research Interests

Punishment and inequality; mass incarceration; decarceration; deinstitutionalization; sociology of law; politics and social change; mixed-methods research; aging and community health.

Biography, Education and Training

See: Anjuli Verma, PhD - Curriculum Vitae (CV).

Anjuli Verma is an Assistant Professor of Politics and teaches in the Legal Studies Program at UC Santa Cruz. Dr. Verma was previously a Chancellor’s Postdoctoral Fellow in the Jurisprudence and Social Policy Program at UC Berkeley School of Law. She received a Ph.D. in Criminology, Law and Society from UC Irvine and a B.A. in Political and Social Thought from the University of Virginia.

Dr. Verma's research examines legal reform, social inequality, and the governance of crime and punishment from an interdisciplinary perspective using multiple methods. Her work appears in Law & Society Review, The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, The Oxford Handbook on Prisons and Imprisonment, Ethnography, Sociological Perspectives, The British Journal of Criminology, Punishment & Society, The American Journal of Bioethics, The Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Criminology and Criminal Justice (forthcoming) and Political Science Quarterly (forthcoming).

Dr. Verma previously worked as a policy advocate and communications strategist on drug policy and criminal justice reform issues at the American Civil Liberties Union. As an undergraduate, she held internships at the Southern Poverty Law Center in Montgomery, Alabama and the National Indian Human Rights Commission in New Delhi.

Honors, Awards and Grants

Law & Society Association Dissertation Award, Honorable Mention (2017).

Chancellor’s Postdoctoral Fellow, University of California, Berkeley. Jurisprudence and Social Policy Program. Faculty mentor: Jonathan Simon. Project: The “Afterlife” of Mass Incarceration: Prison Displacements, Aging and Community Health (2016-2018).

National Science Foundation, Doctoral Dissertation Research Improvement Grant: “Understanding Local Legal Compliance in a Potential Era of Prison Downsizing,” SES-1535511 (2015-2016).

National Institute of Justice, Graduate Research Fellowship Program in the Social and Behavioral Sciences: “California’s Realignment: Understanding Local Legal Compliance in a Potential Era of Prison Downsizing,” 2015-IJ-CX-0001 (2015-2016).

Selected Publications


Verma, A. & Sykes, B.L. (2022) "Beyond the Penal Code: The Legal Capacity of Monetary Sanctions in the Corpus of Califrornia Law." RSF: The Russell Sage Foundation of the Social Sciences 8(1): 36-62.

Hancock, B., Sykes, B.L. & Verma, A. (2018) “The Problem of ‘Cameo Appearances’ in Mixed-Methods Research: Implications for 21st-Century Ethnography.” Sociological Perspectives 61(2): 314-334. 

Sykes, B., Verma, A. & Hancock, B. (2018) “Aligning Sampling and Case Selection in Quantitative-Qualitative Research Designs: Establishing Generalizability Limits in Mixed-Methods Studies.” Ethnography 19(2): 227-253.

Verma, A. (2016) “A Turning Point in Mass Incarceration? Local Imprisonment Trajectories and Decarceration under California’s Realignment.” The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 664: 108-135.

Verma, A. (2015) “The Law-Before: Legacies and Gaps in Penal Reform.” Law & Society Review 49(4): 847-882.

Verma, A. (2004) “Why Criticisms of SATURN Mirror Criticisms of Any Mandatory Student Drug-testing Policy.” The American Journal of Bioethics 4: 52-53.


Verma, A. (Forthcoming) “Mass Incarceration, Decarceration, and Abolition: Beyond Keywords.” The Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Criminology and Criminal Justice. 

Lynch, M. & Verma, A. (2016) “The Imprisonment Boom of the Late Twentieth Century: Past, Present, and Future.” Pp. 1-34 in The Oxford Handbook on Prisons and Imprisonment, John Wooldredge and Paula Smith, eds. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 


Hanink, P.A., Verma, A. & Ward, G. (2020) "Can We Trust the Police to Intervene in Fellow Officer Misconduct?" JURIST. 20 June.

Verma, A. (2020) “Book Review: Author Meets Critics Symposium: 40th Anniversary Edition of The Prison and the Factory, by Dario Melossi and Massimo Pavarini,” Punishment & Society. 18 June. (Advance Access)

Verma, A. (2017) “Book Review: Progressive Punishment: Job Loss, Jail Growth, and the Neoliberal Logic of Carceral Expansion, by Judah Schept,” British Journal of Criminology 57(4): 1002-1005.

Verma, A. & Sykes, B. (2017) Monetary Sanctions and Legal Financial Obligations in California. Washington, DC: Laura and John Arnold Foundation. 

Verma, A. (2011) Afterword to The Primetime War on Drugs and Terror: An Analysis of the War on Terror and the War on Drugs in Popular Primetime Television Programs, by Blakely, J. & Nahm, S. Los Angeles: The Norman Lear Center, University of Southern California School for Communication & Journalism.

Kern, J., Gunja, F., Cox, A., Rosenbaum, M., Appel, J., & Verma, A. (2006) Making Sense of Student Drug Testing: Why Educators Are Saying No. 2d ed. New York: Drug Policy Alliance & American Civil Liberties Union.

Allard, P., Lapidus, L., Luthra, N., Levingston, K., Small, D. & Verma, A. (2005) Caught in the Net: The Impact of Drug Policies on Women and Families. New York: Brennan Center for Justice, American Civil Liberties Union & Break the Chains.

Selected Presentations

Verma, A. & Haney, C. “California: Our Criminal Justice System and Political Possibilities.” UCSC University Forum Election Series: What are Elections Good for? Final Session. 19 Oct. 2020 (invited).

Verma, A. Roundtable: Dilemmas of Carceral Reform. American Political Science Association Annual Conference. 11 Sept. 2020. Presenter.

Verma, A. “The ‘Percent Black’ Trope: Framing Race, Crime, Health & Justice.” The Violence of Belonging panel 23.05. Western Political Science Association Meeting. Via Zoom, 22 May 2020.

Verma, A. & Simon, J. “Aging Out of Prison? Life ‘After’ Mass Incarceration in Old Age.” Law & Society Annual Meeting. Toronto, Canada. 7-10 June, 2018.

Verma, A., Ocen, P., Story, B., Han, S., Schept, J., Brown, M., Petersen, A., Havrylyshyn, A. & Simon, J. Abolition in the 21st Century: Invitation to Law & Society panel. Law & Society Annual Meeting. Toronto, Canada. 7-10 June, 2018. Chair.

Verma, A. & Simon, J. “Afterlives of Mass Incarceration: Elderly Parole and Prison Displacements in California.” Carceral Studies Working Group. UC Berkeley. 21 Mar. 2018 (invited).

Verma, A. “The Great Experiment and the Great Reckoning: Decarceration and the Legal Reform of Mass Incarceration in California.” UC Berkeley, Sociology Department Colloquium Series. 5 Feb. 2018 (invited) & UC Berkeley, Ethnic Studies Department. 2 Oct. 2017.

Christensen, C.D. & Verma, A. “Police Killings in Fact: From the Social, to the Political, to the Public,” White Supremacy panel 15.63, Political Theory: Critical and Normative Section. Western Political Science Association Annual Meeting. San Francisco, CA, 31 Mar., 2017.

Verma, A. The Temporality of Law, Three Ways: Legal “Events” and Regime Shifts in the Mass Incarceration State. Stanford University Program in Law and Society, 4th Conference for Junior Researchers, Law, Innovation and Disruption. Stanford Law School, Stanford, CA. 12-13 May, 2017. (selected). 

Verma, A. Is “Decarceration” Even a Word? The Legal Reform of Mass Incarceration in California. Center for Research on Social Change, UC Berkeley. 7 Mar., 2017 (invited).

Verma, A. Measuring Decarceration: Population Principles and Prison Displacements. UC Berkeley Demography and Population Sciences Miniconference: Population and Incarceration. Berkeley, CA, 12 Dec., 2016. (invited). 

Verma, A. Policing the Silent War: Notes from the Field. Center for the Study of Law and Society Visiting Scholars Speaker Series, UC Berkeley, 1 Dec. 2016 (invited).

Verma, A. Prison Displacements and Life "After" Mass Incarceration for the Elderly. American Society of Criminology Annual Meeting. New Orleans, LA, 16-19 Nov., 2016.

Selected Recordings

KSQW Radio: Cutting Edge #71 (2020): “Anjuli Verma on Policing Reform,” (with Chris Benner, UC Santa Cruz Institute for Social Transformation). 28 June. (Audio Recording).

Verma, A. (2017) Is “Decarceration” Even a Word? The Legal Reform of Mass Incarceration in California. Center for Research on Social Change, UC Berkeley. 7 Mar. (Video Recording).

Rights/Camera/Action Conference (2008) “Anjuli Verma, Advocacy Director of the ACLU Drug Law Reform Project, and The Primetime War on Drugs and Terror,” with The Norman Lear Center, University of Southern California Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism & the American Civil Liberties Union. Los Angeles, CA. 8 June. (Transcript).

Teaching Interests

Punishment and inequality; mass incarceration; decarceration; deinstitutionalization; sociology of law; politics and social change; research design and methods; mixed-methods research.