John Major Eason is an Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He holds a Ph.D. from the Department of Sociology at the University of Chicago. Professor Eason, a native of Evanston, Illinois recieved a B.A. in Urban and Regional Planning from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and a M.P.P. from the Harris School of Public Policy at the University of Chicago.

Before entering graduate school, he was a church-based community organizer focusing on housing and criminal justice issues. He also served as a political organizer for then Illinois State Senator Barack Obama.

His research interest challenges existing models and develops new theories of community, health, race, punishment, and rural/urban processes in several ways. First, by tracing the emergence of the rural ghetto he establishes a new conceptual model of rural neighborhoods. Next, by demonstrating the function of the ghetto in rural communities he extends concentrated disadvantage from urban to rural community process. These relationships are explored through his book, Big House on the Prairie: Rise of the Rural Ghetto and Prison Proliferation, at the University of Chicago Press.

Recently, through his collaboration with the National Immigrant Justice Center he is investigating health outcomes in immigrant detention centers. He uses multi-method, multi-level approaches in empirical investigations ranging from imprisonment, prisoner reentry, murder, healthcare access, and health disparities across the rural-urban continuum.

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  • John Eason explains the realities of criminal justice reform in Wisconsin  Governor-elect Tony Evers announced the members for a criminal justice reform advisory panel and listed big goals for the state of Wisconsin. John Eason, a UW-Madison associate professor of sociology specializing in criminal justice reform, joins us to discuss Wisconsin's rates of incarceration. Eason explains that changes must be a rebuild, not a reform on “Here and Now” Noon Wednesday for Wisconsin Public Television. December 14, 2018.
  • Will Governor Evers's Marijuana Proposals Impact Racial Incarceraiton Disparities?  Governor Evers says his proposal to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana will mitigate racial discrepancies in incarceration rates. Our guest John Eason explains why these disparities exist, and how enforcement of laws against marijuana possession contributes to them. “The Morning Show” with Colleen Leahy on Wisconsin Public Radio. February 22, 2019.