Priscilla Ocen, Professor of Law

Professor of Law

Courses Taught

  • Criminal Law
  • Critical Race Theory



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


Priscilla Ocen is a 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, gender and systems of punishment. Her work also explores the ways in which race, gender and class interact to render women of color vulnerable to various forms of violence and criminalization. In particular, Ocen’s work draws attention to the ways in which criminalization and incarceration are used to police the reproductive choices of poor women of color. Her work has appeared in academic journals such as the California Law Review, the UCLA Law Review, the George Washington Law Review, the UC Davis Law Review and the Du Bois Review as well as popular media outlets such as the Los Angeles Daily JournalEbony and Al Jazeera.

Ocen is the co-author of the influential policy report, Black Girls Matter: Pushed Out, Overpoliced and Underprotected.  The report was part a larger effort co-organized by Ocen and others to highlight the various forms of discipline and punishment experienced by Black girls, which are often overlooked in mainstream advocacy efforts and policy initiatives. As part of this effort, Ocen co-hosted a community hearing on the status of Black women and girls in Los Angeles.

Ocen has applied her work to broader advocacy efforts, as she has served as a trainer for federal public defenders, assisted with the development of new programs in domestic violence centers in South Los Angeles, and strategized with community groups regarding efforts to monitor conditions of confinement in the Los Angeles County women’s jail. Most recently, Ocen was appointed to serve as a member of the newly established Los Angeles Sheriff’s Oversight Commission. 

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.


  • The Story of Ferguson v. City of Charleston in REPRODUCTIVE RIGHTS AND JUSTICE STORIES (Melissa Murray, Reva Siegel and Kate Shaw eds. forthcoming 2018)
  • Incapacitating Motherhood, ___ U.C. Davis Law Review ___ (forthcoming 2018)
  • Birthing Injustice: Pregnancy as a Status Offense, 85 GEO. WASH. L. REV. (July 2017)
  • Beyond Ferguson: Integrating the Social Psychology of Criminal Procedure and Critical Race Theory to Understand the Persistence of Police Violence, in A THEORY OF CRIMINAL JUSTICE: LAW AND SOCIOLOGY IN CONVERSATION (Sharon Dolovich and Alexandra Natapoff eds. forthcoming 2017)
  • (E)racing Childhood: Examining the Racialized Construction of "Childhood" and "Innocence" in the Treatment of Sexually Exploited Minors, 62 UCLA L. REV. 1586 (2015) 
  • 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)
  • Black Girls Matter: Overpoliced and Underprotected (co-written with Kimberlé Crenshaw Jyoti Nanda 2015)
  • Unshackling Intersectionality, 10 DU BOIS REVIEW 471 (2013)
  • The New Racially Restrictive Covenant: Race, Welfare and the Policing of Black Women in Public Housing, 59 UCLA L. REV. 1540 (2012)
  • Punishing Pregnancy: Race, Incarceration and the Shackling of Pregnant Prisoners, 100 CAL. L. REV. 1239 (2012)

Works in Progress

  • At Home and Under Siege: Black Women, the Home and the Criminal Law (co-authored with Devon Carbado)

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.