Associate Professor


  • Find Me On:

  • Office Hours:

    Fall 2022: Thursdays from 1:00 to 3:00
  • Role:

  • Position:

    • Associate Professor
    • Director of Undergraduate Studies
  • Concentration:

    • Criminology and Criminal Justice
    • Program Evaluation
    • Corrections and Reentry
    • Green Criminology
    • Gender
  • Department:

    • Sociology and Women's Studies & Gender Research
  • Education:

    • Ph.D., University of Colorado-Boulder


Tara Opsal is an Associate Professor of Sociology at Colorado State University. As a sociologist who engages critical and applied criminological questions, she focuses on understanding how different systems of formal social control intersect and effect individual and group behavior. In particular, she conducts community-based and mixed methods research that examines the criminal legal system and the consequences of sentencing and correctional policy for, especially, justice-involved women. She has conducted research on community corrections, parole, reentry from prison, foster youth, and bystander programming in the juvenile justice context. Dr. Opsal is especially committed to working with practitioners in non-profits and government agencies to help bridge the gap that can occur between academic research and on the ground practice. Moreover, through these community-based research efforts she prioritizes space for the voices of those entangled in the legal system to inform process, programming, and policy recommendations.

Dr. Opsal also examines the effects of social control in relationship to environmental laws and regulations. Here she focuses on examining the factors that shape state response to environmental harm and crime. Her recent work focuses on understanding the ways that prisons produce environmental harms and public health risks that impact the nearby environment, communities, and those who are incarcerated.

Center for the Study of Crime and Justice:

Center for Women's Studies and Gender Research:

The Fostering Success Program:


  • Women, Crime, and Victimization

  • Punishment and Society

  • Introduction to Sociology

  • Gender and Society

  • Qualitative Methods