John Eason
John M. Eason
Senior Fellow
Equity Scholar
Justice Policy Center
Office of Race and Equity Research
As a recovering community organizer and academic, I have found Urban is the perfect space to create rigorous, policy-relevant social science to engage and affect discourse on the most pressing criminal legal system challenges.

John Major Eason is senior fellow and equity scholar in the Justice Policy Center and the Office of Race and Equity Research at the Urban Institute. He is also the Watson family university associate professor of sociology and international and public affairs at Brown University and author of Big House on the Prairie: Rise of the Rural Ghetto and Prison Proliferation. He is a mixed-methods researcher specializing in ethnography and rare events and has research interests in health disparities, punishment, and race across rural and urban communities. He recently served as a member of the University at Buffalo’s inaugural Center for Diversity Innovation’s Distinguished Visiting Scholars cohort. Eason has faculty affiliations across Brown University, including the Simmons Center for the Study of Slavery and Justice. After serving as an associate professor in the Department of Sociology at the University of Wisconsin–Madison from 2018 to 2022, Eason maintains affiliations with the university’s Institute for Research on Poverty, the Applied Population Lab, and the Carbone Cancer Center. From 2010 to 2013, he was an assistant professor at Arizona State University before moving to Texas A&M University from 2013 to 2017. Before receiving an MPP and PhD from the University of Chicago, he worked as a congregation-based community organizer, focusing on housing and criminal justice, and served as a political organizer, most notably for then–Illinois state senator Barack Obama. His work on COVID in confined spaces and prison proliferation is funded by the National Science Foundation.

Research Areas
Immigrants and immigration
Neighborhoods, cities, and metros
Race and equity
Health and health care
Crime, justice, and safety
Black/African American communities
Community and economic development
Community engagement
Social determinants of health
Racial inequities in neighborhoods and community development
Racial and ethnic disparities in criminal justice
Place-based initiatives
Mass incarceration
Immigrant communities and COVID-19
Immigrant communities and racial equity
Health equity
Featured Work