Liam Martin

Teaching in 2020


BA in Politics and Economics (Victoria), MA in Sociology (Auckland), PhD in Sociology (Boston College)

Research specialties

My research interests centre on:

  • The causes and consequences of rising prison populations
  • The politics of race and criminal justice
  • The lived experience of imprisonment and reentry
  • Alternatives to imprisonment
  • Research methods and ethnography

Before joining the Institute of Criminology in February 2016, I spent five years studying mass incarceration in America as a graduate student at Boston College.

Funded by the National Science Foundation, my doctoral research involved nine months living in a halfway house for men leaving prison and jail—spread over three separate stays—and life history and follow-up interviews with a network of former prisoners established while living at the house. Using this ethnographic approach, I examined the lasting impact of incarceration on former prisoners, and the strategies they use to rebuild their lives while facing often extreme social exclusion.

I am particularly interested in forms of teaching and research that engage directly with those most affected by the prison system. While in America, I taught college courses inside Framingham and Norfolk state prisons through the Boston University prison education program.

Current research

My research on reentry is part of a broader concern with the social impact of large-scale incarceration. Penal policy in New Zealand has followed American trends, and building on my experience there, I am now developing a long-term program of research on the causes and consequences of prison growth in New Zealand.

I am keen to collaborate with other researchers and supervise postgraduate work on these issues.

Selected publications

Martin, L. (2020). Foucault and the Power of Criminal Justice. In C. Chouhy, Cochran, J & Jonson, C (eds.), Criminal Justice Theory: Explanations and Effects. New York: Routledge.

Martin, L. (2019). Halfway Home: the thin Line Between Abstinence and the Drug Crisis. In K. Middlemass, Smiley, C (eds.), Prisoner Reentry in the 21st Century. New York: Routledge.

Martin, L. (2018). “Free But Still Walking the Yard”: Prisonization and the Problems of Reentry. Journal of Contemporary Ethnography, 47(5),

Martin, L. (2018). The Globalization of American Criminal Justice: the New Zealand Case. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Criminology, 51(40),

Martin, L. (2016). The Corrections Myth, Berkeley Journal of Sociology, vol. 59.

Martin, L. (2015). Ethnography as Research Justice Strategy. In A. Jolivette (ed.), Research Justice: Methodologies for Social Change, Bristol: Policy Press.

Martin, L. (2013). Reentry within the Carceral: Foucault, Race and Prisoner Reentry. Critical Criminology, 21(4): 493-508,

Public Commentaries

Martin, L. (2018). Prison numbers are dropping but home detention is too harsh. New Zealand Herald, December 12

Martin, L. (2018). Myths don't do us justice; we need to share facts. New Zealand Herald, August 27

Martin, L. (2018). Prison breeds crime, it doesn't cure it. New Zealand Herald, June 12

Martin, L. (2018). Three strikes - prison policy by baseball slogan. New Zealand Herald, June 10

Martin, L. (2018). Countdown to the Mega-Prison. Dominion Post, March 9.

Martin, L. (2017). Labour Needs to Scrap Corrections' Plan to build Mega-Prison. New Zealand Herald, October 26.

Martin, L. (2017). The Fate of NZ’s Mega-Prison will be the First Big Test of Labour’s Commitment to Reform. The Spinoff, November 3.

Martin, L. (2017). The Best way to Prevent Prison Violence is Sending Fewer People to Prison. Dominion Post, July 12.

Martin, L. (2016). Lessons from Youth Justice for our Prison Policy. Dominion Post, October 20.

Martin, L. (2014). The Human Face of a Broken System. Boston Herald, April 6.

Teaching in 2020