Priscilla Ocen

Associate Professor of Law

BA, San Diego State University
JD, University of California Los Angeles, School of Law


Priscilla Ocen is an Associate Professor of Law at Loyola Law School, where she teaches criminal law, family law and a seminar on race, gender and the law. Her work examines the relationship between race and gender identities and punishment. In particular, Ocen’s scholarship has explored conditions of confinement within women’s prisons and the race and gender implications of the use of practices such as shackling during labor and childbirth.  She has also explored the ways in which race, gender and class interact to render women of color vulnerable to various forms of violence and criminalization. Her work has appeared in academic journals such as the California Law Review, the UCLA Law Review and the Du Bois Review as well as popular media outlets such as the Los Angeles Daily Journal, Ebony and Al Jazeera.

Prior to joining the faculty at Loyola Law School, Ocen was a Critical Race Studies fellow at UCLA School of Law, where she taught a course on Critical Race Theory and a seminar on Race, Gender and Incarceration.

Additionally, Ocen served as a law clerk to the Honorable Eric L. Clay of the U.S Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. Following her clerkship, she was the Thurgood Marshall Fellow at the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area, where she worked on various racial justice issues including voting rights, police misconduct, and conditions of confinement in women’s prisons. Additionally, Ocen spearheaded the creation of a Black Women’s Reentry Project.

Ocen is also active in the community as she serves as a member of the board of directors for the Equal Justice Society, an organization dedicated to transforming the nation’s consciousness on race through law, social science and the arts.

Selected Scholarship

  • Beyond Shackling: Prisons, Pregnancy and the Struggle for Birth Justice, (co-authored with J. Chinyere Oparah), forthcoming in BIRTHING JUSTICE: BLACK WOMEN, PREGNANCY AND CHILDBIRTH (J. Chinyere Oparah, Alicia Bonaparte and Shanelle Matthews eds.) (2015).
  • Unshackling Intersectionality, 10 Du Bois Rev. 471 (2013)
  • Punishing Pregnancy: Race, Incarceration and the Shackling of Pregnant Prisoners, 100 Cal. L. Rev. 1239 (2012)
  • The New Racially Restrictive Covenant: Race, Welfare and the Policing of Black Women in Public Housing, 59 UCLA L. Rev. 1540 (2012) 

Works in Progress

  • (E)racing Childhood: Examining the Racialized Construction of "Childhood" and "innocence" in the Treatment of Sexually Exploited Minors, 62 UCLA L. Rev. (2015).
  • Birthing Injustice:  Mass Incarceration, Pregnancy Prosecutions and the Construction of Pregnancy as a Status Offense
Representative Academic Presentations
  • Discussant, Panel on “Racialized and Gendered Punishment and Reentry,” American Sociological Association, August 18, 2012.
  • Keynote Speaker, Reproductive Justice and Women’s Prisons: A Contradiction in Terms?, California Reproductive Justice Roundtable, September 2011.
  • The New Racially Restrictive Covenant presented at Intersecting Relations of Domination, University of Paris, June 2011.
  • Punishing Pregnancy: Race, Incarceration and the Punishment of Pregnant Prisoners presented at UC Berkeley Department of African-American Studies, Seminar on Race and Public Policy, May 2011.
  • Sovereign Violence, Fifth Annual Critical Race Studies Symposium: Race and Sovereignty (moderator), April 2011.
  • Speak So You Can Speak Again: A Discussion of the Challenges and Agency of Africana Women, Department of Africana Studies, California State University, Dominguez Hills, April 2011.
  • African American Girls and the Intersection of Race, Gender, Class, Age and Place, African-American Girls and the Criminal Justice System: A Call to Action, The Thelton Henderson Center for Social Justice at UC Berkeley School of Law, April 2011.