Sarah Esther Lageson

Assistant Professor, School of Criminal Justice, Rutgers University-Newark

About Sarah

Lageson studies how technology changes law, criminal justice, media on crime, and systems of American punishment. Her current research examines the growth of online crime data that remains publicly available, creating new forms of “digital punishment.” Sarah has worked on reentry research and policy since 2007, when she joined the Americorps VISTA Minnesota Prisoner Reentry Program, and later as Research Coordinator for the Council on Crime and Justice in Minneapolis, MN. She has led several evaluations of prison-based educational and service programming, including a federally-funded family reunification program and state-funded parenting education programs. Her academic focus in sociology focuses on how criminal justice contact impacts work, relationships, and participation in community, civic and social life. 

In the News

Sarah Esther Lageson's research on the stigma of having a criminal history discussed by Olivia Solon, "Haunted by a Mugshot: How Predatory Websites Exploit the Shame of Arrest," The Guardian, June 12, 2018.
Sarah Esther Lageson quoted on online stigma for suspects by Michael Barba , "SFPD Blasts Alleged Drug Dealers Online as Critics Decry ‘Public Shaming’" San Francisco Examiner, April 29, 2018.
Regular contributions by Sarah Esther Lageson to Office Hours.
Regular contributions by Sarah Esther Lageson to [email protected].
Regular contributions by Sarah Esther Lageson to Public Radio Exchange.
Regular contributions by Sarah Esther Lageson to KFAI 90.3 FM Minneapolis.
Regular contributions by Sarah Esther Lageson to Minnesota Legacy Project.
Regular contributions by Sarah Esther Lageson to Give Methods a Chance.
Regular contributions by Sarah Esther Lageson to KMOJ 89.9 FM Minneapolis.
Sarah Esther Lageson's research on job applicant’s criminal history discussed by Workplace Prof., "How Managers Consider Job-Applicant Criminal History," Law Professor Blogs Network, October 29, 2014.
Sarah Esther Lageson quoted on the use of electronic shaming for social control, "Using the Internet for Social Control" Examiner, September 11, 2014.


"Crime Data, the Internet, and Free Speech: An Evolving Legal Consciousness" Law and Society Review 51, no. 1 (2017): 8-41.

Asks how law should govern access to criminal history on the internet. Reveals how both parties construct legality in the absence of positive legal restrictions. Shows how current data practices reinforce structural inequalities already present in criminal justice institutions in a profoundly public manner, leaving website subjects with little recourse and an inescapable digital trail.

"Digital Degradation: Stigma Management in the Internet Age" (with Shadd Maruna). Punishment & Society 20, no. 1 (2018): 113-133.

Describes how the internet has become a fertile space for the expression of public anxieties about social problems and a digital prison that can discourage the labeled from engaging with the processes of reintegration.

"The Edge of Stigma: An Experimental Audit of the Effects of Low-level Criminal Records on Employment" (with Chris Uggen, Mike Vuolo, Ebony Ruhland, and Hillary Whitham). Criminology 52, no. 4 (2014): 627-654.

Measures the effect of low-level records and race on employment, through an experimental field audit.

"Found Out and Opting Out: The Consequences of Online Criminal Records for Families" The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 665, no. 1 (2016): 127-141.

Draws on interviews and fieldwork with people attempting to expunge and legally seal their criminal records. Explores how online versions of these records impact family relationships. 

"Criminal Record Questions in the Era of ‘Ban the Box’" (with Mike Vuolo and Chris Uggen). Criminology & Public Policy 16, no. 1 (2017): 139-165.

Studies a random selection of job application criminal record questions with an analysis of how different groups are “shut out” of employment due to how questions are asked.

"Digital Punishment’s Tangled Web" Contexts 15, no. 1 (2016): 22-27 .

Analyses the digital criminal history landscape, detailing the tension between more information for public safety and privacy rights for those accused of crimes.

"Legal Ambiguity in Managerial Assessments of Criminal Records" (with Mike Vuolo and Chris Uggen). Law and Social Inquiry 40, no. 1 (2015): 175-204.

Incorporates interviews with employers on how they grapple with applicants’ criminal records, paired with empirical observations of their hiring behavior.