Dr. Ashley Rubin

Professor Rubin received her PhD in Jurisprudence and Social Policy from the University of California, Berkeley, in 2013 and joined the University of Toronto in 2016. She teaches courses in crime and socio-legal studies and organizational theory.


Her current research reexamines the dynamics of penal change, focusing on the introduction of new punishments in America and England from the seventeenth century through the early twentieth century. Her interdisciplinary research draws on neo-institutional theory, the law and society literature, and socio-historical studies of punishment. She has projects exploring the uses of penal incarceration before first state prisons, the rise and decline of the proto-prison and modern prison, and the effect of prison authorizations on existing punishments in the United States. Her research also examines the theoretical consequences of analyzing prisons as organizations, including recognizing the dynamics of the diffusion of penal innovations, the tension between organizational concerns and penal goals, and the professionalization efforts of early prison administrators.


She is currently writing a monograph on Eastern State Penitentiary (opened in 1829 in Philadelphia, PA, USA) that explores the role of prison administrators in securing that historic prison’s rejection of field-wide norms despite intense criticism and pressures to the contrary. She has additional projects that focus on prisoners and their experience of and relationship to the prison regime; these projects focus on the causes and consequences of that behavior frequently described as resistance. 


Her research can be found in the Law & Society Review, Law & Social
, Punishment & Society, and Theoretical Criminology, among other outlets.