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Associate Professor of Sociology, Colorado State University

Tara Opsal is an Associate Professor of Sociology and the Director of Undergraduate Studies at Colorado State University. Her research focuses on the way systems of formal social control intersect with and shape individual and group behavior. To examine this question, Dr. Opsal’s research considers two spheres where government regulation/intervention occurs: crime/victimization and, additionally, the environment. First, her work critically examines the criminal processing system and the consequences of sentencing and correctional policy for those impacted by it. In this area she has conducted research on parole, reentry from prison to the community, foster youth, and bystander programming. Regarding the environment, Dr. Opsal focuses on how the public understands the role of state institutions in protecting (and neglecting) the environment through regulatory policy. Her research in this area focuses on oil and gas development in the state of Colorado and examines citizen’s experiences with state and local regulatory actors. Her articles on these topics have appeared recently in Critical Criminology, Sociological Inquiry, The Journal of Contemporary Ethnography, Women & Criminal Justice, The Prison Journal, and Criminal Justice Studies.


  • –present
    Associate Professor of Sociology and the Director of Undergraduate Studies, Colorado State University