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Why are criminal sanctions more severe in some times and places than in others?

What drives criminal justice systems to become more or less punitive?

My research re-examines criminal justice in both democratic and authoritarian contexts.

My most recent project, The Contradictions of Chinese Capital Punishment, is a study of the causes and consequences of 21st century death penalty reform in China, the world's leading executioner state. The project draws on nearly two years of fieldwork and more than seventy interviews in China.



(Not) Talking about Capital Punishment in the Xi Jinping Era (with Matthew Robertson and Susan Trevaskes) 11 International Journal for Crime, Justice and Social Democracy 79 (2022).

Suspended Execution Beyond China’s Borders (with Daniel Pascoe) 9 Asian Journal of Law and Society 133 (2022).


Experimental Criminology and the Free-Rider Dilemma (with Johann Koehler) 61 British Journal of Criminology 209 (2021).

Body Count Politics: Quantification, Secrecy and Capital Punishment in China 45 Law & Social Inquiry 706 (2020).

Winner of the 2019 Law & Social Inquiry Graduate Student Paper Prize

Winner of the 2019 Asian Law & Society Association Graduate Student Article Award


Making Sense of Life without Parole in China (with Su Jiang) 21 Punishment & Society 70 (2019).



Borges, the Keystone and the Legal Imagination, in The Cabinet of Imaginary Laws (Thanos Zartaloudis and Peter Goodrich, eds.) (2021).


Harsh Justice? 4 Made In China: A Quarterly on Chinese Labour, Civil Society, and Rights 64 (2019).


Power Surge: China’s New National Supervisory Commission, in China Story Yearbook 2018: Power 30 (Jane Golley, Linda Jaivin & Paul J. Farrelly Eds.) (2019).


“Book Review: The Will to Punish, by Didier Fassin & The Death Penalty, Vol. II, by Jacques Derrida.” 59 British Journal of Criminology 1254 (2018).


“Book Review: The Routledge Handbook of Chinese Criminology, by Liqun Cao, Ivan Y. Sun and Bill Hebenton, Eds.” 18 Punishment & Society 514 (2016).



理解中国的终身监禁 [Making Sense of Life without Parole in China], in The Criminal Law Review: New Vision of Criminal Law] (Su Jiang Ed.) (Chinese reprint) (2018).


Translator for Genlin Liang, The Vicissitudes of Chinese Criminal Law and Theory: A Study in History, Culture and Politics, 5 Peking University Law Journal 25 (2017).

Photo (above): Rule by Law, campaign sign at children's playground, Beijing.

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