Elizabeth Adams

Elizabeth  Adams
  • PhD Candidate
  • School of Criminal Justice
  • MS 2014, Michigan State University
  • BA 2012, Michigan State University
  • 3rd Floor, Nisbet Building
  • 1407 S. Harrison Rd.
  • East Lansing, MI 48823


Curriculum Vitae


Elizabeth A. Adams is a Doctoral Candidate in the School of Criminal Justice at Michigan State University. She is interested in advancing research on the impact of criminal justice system processing on individuals, and in identifying correctional approaches that improve the circumstances of justice-involved individuals. Most of her research is employed using a mixed method approach involving the examination of a large number (n = 165 – 402) of justice-involved women’s qualitative reports of their experiences on supervision in relation to their reports on outcomes or quantitative measures such as risk factors and recidivism. Her recent research is focused on the effect of different types of social support and communication styles that supervision agents’ use with their female clients on probation and parole regarding issues that are common among justice-involved women such as substance use, employment, parenting stress, and child custody issues.

After her extensive work managing and coding over 1800 narrative accounts of women on community supervision, she recognized that justice-involved mothers often attributed their motivations for improvement to their roles as parents. This led her to examine the link between women’s discussion of parenting motivations and women’s recidivism. She found that women’s motivations for children did not consistently translate into reduced recidivism, and that motivations to improve for children were related to higher levels of recidivism for mothers residing in neighborhoods with high levels of crime.

To build on this research, her dissertation examines how idealistic expectations of women as caregivers communicated in various contexts, including within criminal justice settings, may lead mothers to pursue strenuous or unrealistic parenting goals. She is also examining how parent-related challenges (i.e. limited resources, neighborhood dangers, and criminal justice system involvement) may complicate women’s pursuit and ability to achieve idealistic parenting goals, which may contribute to their diminished wellbeing and their use of negative coping mechanisms. Her goals for this research are to clarify how justice-involved mothers’ experiences and interactions contribute to their development of problematic parenting goals. The aim is to provide criminal justice practitioners with recommendations on ways to discuss parenting, provide support, and help clients set realistic parenting goals.

Elizabeth is a MSU College of Social Science Research Fellow (2015) and an Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences Doctoral Summit Fellow (2018). In 2016 she received a Top 4 Paper Award from the Interpersonal Communication Division at the International Communication Association’s conference in Japan. She has also received multiple awards to support her development from the School of Criminal Justice at MSU including the Criminal Justice 75th Anniversary Scholarship and the Criminal Justice Alumni Graduate Endowed Assistantship. Her work has been published in British Journal of Criminology, Criminal Justice and Behavior, and in several books.


Women's Experiences of Motherhood, Violations of Supervision Requirements and Arrests

Year: 2017 Authors: Adams, E. A., Morash, M., Cobbina, J. E., & Smith, S. W. Journal: British Journal of Criminology

Supportive Messages Female Offenders Receive From Probation and Parole Officers About Substance Use: Message Perceptions and Effects

Year: 2017 Authors: Holmstrom, A. J., Adams E. A., Morash, M., Smith, S. W., & Cobbina, J. E. Journal: Criminal Justice and Behavior

The Nature and Effects of Messages that Women Receive from Probation and Parole Agents in Conversations About Employment

Year: In Press Authors: Roddy, A. L., Morash, M., Adams, E. A., Holmstrom, A. J., Smith, S. W., & Cobbina, J. E. Journal: Criminal Justice and Behavior

Prison Experiences and Identity in Women's Life Stories

Year: In Press Authors: Morash, M., Adams, E. A., Goodson, M. V., Cobbina, J. E., & Smith, S. W.

Book Chapter in Leverentz, A., Chen, E., & J. Christian, Moving beyond recidivism: Expanding approaches to research on prisoner reentry and reintegration. NYU Press

How Interpersonal Communication Improves the Lives of Women on Probation and Parole

Year: In Press Authors: Smith, S. W., Morash, M., Holmstrom, A., Walling, B., & Adams, E. A.

Book Chapter in S. W. Wilson and S. W. Smith (Eds.), Reflections on Interpersonal Communication. San Diego: Cognella