Craig Haney

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Haney at the University of California, Santa Cruz.

Craig Haney is an American social psychologist and a professor at the University of California, Santa Cruz, noted for his work on the study of capital punishment and the psychological impact of imprisonment and prison isolation from the 1970s on.[1] He obtained his B.A from the University of Pennsylvania and his M.A., Ph.D. in Psychology and J.D. in Law from Stanford University.[2] He is a Distinguished Professor of Psychology and the UCSC Presidential Chair (for a three-year term which runs from 2015 until 2018) at the aforementioned University of California Santa Cruz,[3] where he has been a member the faculty for some 39 years.

In 1971, while at Stanford, Haney collaborated with his famed colleague, Dr. Philip Zimbardo in conducting what is known today as The Stanford Prison Experiment,[4] for which Haney served as a principal researcher. This experience help to set in course Haney’s subsequent career and work with prison systems. The simultaneously staged and real time academic drama at Stanford ingrained in Haney that “context matters, prisoners are people, mistreatment has consequences”. This foundation perpetuated Haney’s passion regarding the psychological impact of incarceration (e.g., mental illness) and his advocacy for humanization and reform.[5][6]

During his professional career Haney has published a panoply of works, including four books, numerous research articles and entries in law reviews.[7] Haney’s book, Death By Design: Capital Punishment as a Social Psychological System was published by Oxford University Press in 2005 and received the Herbert Jacobs Prize from the Law & Society Association as “the most outstanding book on law and society” published that year.[8] His 2006 book, Reforming Punishment: Psychological Limits to the Pains of Imprisonment, published by the American Psychological Association in 2006, was nominated for a National Book Award. Haney was a member of the National Academy of Sciences Committee charged with studying the causes and consequences of high rates of incarceration in the United States, whose work led to the 2014 publication of The Growth of Incarceration in the United States: Exploring the Causes and Consequences (by the National Academy Press). His latest book, Prisons Worldwide (coauthored with Lynne Haney) is forthcoming in December 2018.[9] Haney has also written for the Huffington Post.[10]

Haney has served as an expert witness in several influential United States Federal Court cases related to the prison environment and punishment, including; Toussaint v. McCarthy (1984), Madrid v. Gomez (1995), Coleman v. Brown (1995), and Ruiz v. Johnson (1999).[11] Moreover, Haney's work was influential in the United States Supreme Court 5-4 ruling of Brown v. Plata (2011), which upheld a lower court ruling that the California prison population be reduced.[12] Commenting on this last case, Haney stated: "When prisons are unduly painful, they become harmful and the system begins to break down and fail." He noted further, "Prisoners can carry the consequences of that harm back out into the free world once they're released. I was very gratified to see the Supreme Court embrace that concept”.

In 2012, Haney testified before the Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee at a hearing on “Reassessing Solitary Confinement”.[13] In 2014, he spoke on the National Public Radio program, Fresh Air with Terry Gross, about the impacts of solitary confinement.[14] Most recently, Haney was interviewed by Oprah Winfrey on a 60 Minutes segment that addressed the psychological consequences of long-term isolation.[15]

At University of California, Santa Cruz, Haney was selected as the University’s Distinguished Faculty Research Lecturer in 2014.[16] He has taught Psychology and Law I & II, Social Justice, Society, and Policy, and Graduate Research Methods, and The Social Context. His work with graduate students involves applied research on criminal justice topics including: the effects of imprisonment, criminogenic social histories, the effects of death qualification, and the impact of pretrial publicity on legal decision making. Haney has received numerous teaching awards including, in 2015, his second Excellence in Teaching award bestowed by the UC Santa Cruz faculty senate.


  1. ^ "University of California faculty profile for Craig Haney". Retrieved November 7, 2016.
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  6. ^ Erica Goode (August 9, 2015). "Solitary Confinement Mental Illness". The New York Times.
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  8. ^ Death by Design: Capital Punishment As a Social Psychological System. American Psychology-Law Society Series. Oxford, New York: Oxford University Press. 2005-08-04. ISBN 9780195182408.
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  12. ^ Kara Guzman (October 17, 2014). "UCSC Professor Honored for Prison Research". Santa cruz Sentinel. Retrieved November 9, 2016.
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  15. ^ "Psychology professor Craig Haney discussed solitary confinement with Oprah Winfrey on "60 Minutes"". Retrieved 2018-01-08.
  16. ^ "Psychology and prisons expert Craig Haney talks about social injustices in U.S. prisons at Annual Faculty Research Lecture". Retrieved 2018-01-08.