Seth Prins, PhD, MPH

  • Assistant Professor of Epidemiology and Sociomedical Sciences
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Seth J. Prins is a psychiatric epidemiologist whose two programs of research concern the collateral consequences of mass criminalization and mass incarceration for public health, and how the division and structure of labor influence mental illness and substance use. He is the principal investigator on a National Institute on Drug Abuse grant to study the role of the collateral consequences of the school-to-prison pipeline on adolescent health and development.

Prins's two programs of research are connected by an underlying interest in how political-economic arrangements, power relations, racialized class conflict, and various forms of social control affect population health. His research integrates advanced epidemiologic methods with contemporary social theory to operationalize criminalization, incarceration, and social class as dynamic relational processes rather than individual attributes.

His work appears in American Journal of Sociology, American Journal of Public Health, Lancet Public Health, Epidemiology, Social Science & Medicine, Addiction, Sociology of Health & Illness, American Journal of Industrial Medicine, Theoretical Criminology, Law & Human Behavior, among others.

Prins has been quoted or had his research featured in The New York Times, US News & World Report, The Washington Post, The Guardian, The Atlantic, New York Magazine, among others.

His writing has appeared in New York Daily News, The Nation, Jacobin, The Appeal, and Protean Magazine.

Academic Appointments

  • Assistant Professor of Epidemiology and Sociomedical Sciences

Administrative Titles

  • Co-Convener, Cross-Cutting Theme, Columbia Population Research Center

Credentials & Experience

Education & Training

  • BA, 2004 McGill University
  • MPH, 2010 Columbia University
  • PhD, 2016 Columbia University


Research Interests

  • Community Health
  • Healthcare Policy
  • Incarceration Prevention
  • Mental Health
  • Substance Use

Selected Publications

Prins SJ, Kajeepeta S, Hatzenbuehler ML, Branas CC, Metsch LR, Russell ST. School Health Predictors of the School-to-Prison Pipeline: Substance Use and Developmental Risk and Resilience Factors. Journal of Adolescent Health. Published online November 24, 2021

Kajeepeta, S., Mauro, P.M., Keyes, K.M., El Sayed, A.M., Rutherford, C.G., Prins, S.J. (2021). Association between county jail incarceration and cause-specific county mortality in the USA, 1987–2017: a retrospective, longitudinal study. Lancet Public Health.

Prins, Seth J, Sarah McKetta, Jonathan Platt, Carles Muntaner, Katherine M Keyes, and Lisa M Bates. “‘The Serpent of Their Agonies’: Exploitation As Structural Determinant of Mental Illness.” Epidemiology, Volume Published ahead of Print (2020).

The Disciplining Effect of Mass Incarceration on Labor Organization. Reich, A. D. and Prins, S. J. American Journal of Sociology, 125(5). 2020

Connecting the Dots Between Mass Incarceration, Health Inequity, and Climate Change. Prins, S. J.; and Story, B. American Journal of Public Health, 110(S1): S35–S36. 2020.

County Jail Incarceration Rates and County Mortality Rates in the United States, 1987–2016. Kajeepeta, S.; Rutherford, C. G.; Keyes, K. M.; El-Sayed, A. M.; and Prins, S. J. American Journal of Public Health, 110(S1): S109–S115. 2020.

Prins, S. J. Criminogenic or Criminalized? Testing an Assumption for Expanding Criminogenic Risk Assessment. Law and Human Behavior Online First (2019)

See a complete list of publications