Leah Jacobs Assistant Professor



2321 Cathedral of Learning

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Dr. Jacobs’ scholarship is at the intersection of social welfare and criminal justice policy and intervention. Her research focuses on socio-structural risk factors for criminal justice involvement among members of vulnerable communities.  She is particularly interested in the role of neighborhood qualities in contributing to arrests among people with mental health and substance use problems, as well as reentry programs that seek to decrease recidivism among these populations. Dr. Jacobs is the Principal Investigator for From Cell Blocks to City Blocks, a study examining the way in which neighborhood risk/protective factors and behavioral health treatment affect recidivism among probationers.

Dr. Jacobs is also a former case manager, program planner and evaluator, and community organizer. She holds a BS in Psychology from Northeastern University, a dual MA in Policy and Planning and Child Development from Tufts University, and an MSW and PhD in Social Welfare from the University of California- Berkeley.

Currently, Jacobs is co-editing a special issue of the Journal of Sociology and Social Welfare (Call for Submissions).

Research Interests

  • Neighborhood effects and criminal justice involvement
  • Criminal justice involvement among people with mental health and substance use problems
  • Diversion efforts and prisoner re-entry programming
  • Geospatial analysis and systematic social observation using Google Street View
  • Community-engaged scholarship

Funded Projects and Fellowships

National Institute of Justice Graduate Research Fellow (2016), More than Mental Disorder: The Effects of neighborhood and treatment on recidivism for probationers with psychiatric diagnoses

National Institute for Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism/Alcohol Research Group Pre-doctoral Fellow (2015), From Cell Blocks to City Blocks: The Role of neighborhood risk factors in predicting recidivism

University of California- Berkeley Center for Research on Social Change Fellow (2014-2016), From Criminalized Patients to Risk Exposed Agents: Reconceptualizing carceral involvement among individuals with psychiatric diagnoses

University of California- Berkeley Student Mentoring and Research Training Award (2013), Experiences of Incarceration among People with Mental Illness

University of California- Berkeley Office of the President’s Mentored Research Award (2013-2014)

University of California- Berkeley Human Rights Center Fellowship (2013), Stories of the Cell and the Street: Engaging people with mental illness in criminal justice system change           

Selected Publications

Jacobs, L. A. & Giordano, S. N. J. (2017) "It's Not Like Therapy": Patient-Inmate Perspectives on Jail Psychiatric Services. Administration and Policy in Mental Health and Mental Health Services Research. Advance online publication (http://rdcu.be/vbO6). doi: 10.1007/s10488-017-0821-2. 

Jacobs, L. A., Katcher, K., Krummenacher, P., & Tonnesen, S. [2017] Root & Rebound: An Innovative program paints the reentry landscape. In S. Stojkovic (Ed.), Prisoner Reentry: Critical Issues and Policy Directions. New York, N.Y.: Palgrave Macmillan.  

Segal, S. & Jacobs, L. A. (2013). Deinstitutionalization. Encyclopedia of Social Work. New York, N.Y.: Oxford University Press.

Jacobs, L. A. (2013). Social justice and anthropology: From observation to action. In M. Austin (Ed.), Social Justice and Social Work: Rediscovering a Core Value of the Profession. Los Angeles, C.A.: Sage.

Oliveri, R., Deshmuk-Towery, I., & Jacobs, L. A. (2011) Youth Perspectives on Health Care. In F. Sherman & F. Jacobs (Eds.), Juvenile Justice: Advancing Research, Policy and Practice. Hoboken, N.J.: John Wiley & Sons.

Mistry, J., Jacobs, F., & Jacobs, L. A. (2008).  Cultural relevance as program to community alignment. Journal of Community Psychology, 37(4), 487-504.