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Research Interests

Mass incarceration

Trauma among incarcerated/formerly incarcerated men

Trauma-focused reentry services

Legacy of historical racial violence within criminal justice system


Maria is in her second year of the social work PhD program and is an NIMH T32 Predoctoral Fellow.

For ten years prior to entering the doctoral program, Maria was a social worker for the Equal Justice Initiative, a non-profit human rights organization focused on reforming the criminal justice system.  In that role, Maria served on the legal teams of clients who were 13 and 14 when sentenced to die in adult prisons.  She also helped develop and implement reentry programming for men and women leaving prison after serving decades-long sentences, often beginning in childhood.

Maria returned to school in order to further develop social work knowledge about the experiences of the incarcerated and formerly incarcerated to improve programming for this under-served population.  In particular, her research focuses on the gap in knowledge about the cumulative traumatic stress common in the lives of incarcerated and formerly incarcerated men and the ways in which trauma and the history of racial injustice inherent in the criminal justice system create challenges in the reentry process, both for those returning from prison and those communities receiving them.


Curriculum Vitae