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Maria S. Smith

Social Scientist. Data Scientist.



I am a doctoral student in the Department of Sociology at the University of California, Berkeley, and a 2020 National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellow.  I research the intersections of crime, law, and deviance, science and technology, and knowledge and power.  My research aims to conceptualize and investigate the uses and social consequences of artificial intelligence in the criminal justice system.  I deploy both qualitative and computational methods.  I am a co-founder of the  Data for Black Lives (D4BL) Hub in the Bay Area.  I mentor previously incarcerated, system impacted, and first-generation students.

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"In fact, we should acknowledge that most people are forced to live inside someone else’s imagination. And one of the things we have to come to grips with is how the nightmares that many people are forced to endure are the underside of an elite fantasy about efficiency, profit, and social control."  - Ruha Benjamin 

Academic Projects

Works in Progress...


The Duality of Communication Technology in Smart Prisons explores the way digital communication technologies (email, video visitation, and videogram) promise to promote connection to the outside world while also shaping and controlling the lives of loved ones who communicate with family members behind bars. Essentially, this project aims to bring Megan Comfort's Doing Time Together into the digital era.


 The Rise of The Smart Prison: A New Paradigm Shift? investigates the goals of data surveillance in smart prisons, the way data is used to amplify or modify punishment, and the broader social consequences--once incarcerated people are released from prison. Fundamentally, this project is interested in the way power operates or changes with the inundation of individualized smart devices.

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