Assistant Professor

Photo of Dr. Sarah

519-888-4567 x 46648

PhD Criminology and Socio-Legal Studies (University of Toronto) 

MA Criminology and Socio-Legal Studies (University of Toronto)

BA (Simon Fraser University)


Fellow, Balsillie School for International Affairs, and Co-lead of the Migration, Mobilities, and Social Politics Research Cluster

Research, teaching, and supervision areas

  • Border criminology
  • Immigration detention and deportation
  • Punishment, parole, and re-entry
  • Postcolonial, antiracist, and feminist thought
  • Critical border and migration studies
  • Qualitative research methods
  • Criminology and sociolegal studies 

Current Research

I am currently completing a research project examining immigration detention and deportation in the United Kingdom (UK), with specific focus on the experiences of confinement and removal in relation to affective issues of home, belonging, and identity in postcolonial, multicultural Britain. This project is based on ethnographic research at four immigration removal centres (IRCs) in the UK along with follow-up research with detained individuals who were released and/or deported. I am in the midst of writing up this research as a book, tentatively titled Migration Penality: Detention and Deportation in Postcolonial Britain (Routledge).

My second area of research involves the Prison Transparency Project, a collaborative study focusing on issues of carceral transparency and accountability. Initially funded through a three-year SSHRC Partnership Development Grant, we are now seeking a SSHRC Partnership Grant to comparatively explore the cultures of transparency in Canada, Spain, and Argentina in relation to imprisonment and immigration detention.

Selected Publications


  • Turnbull, S. (2016) Parole in Canada: Gender and Diversity in the Federal System. Vancouver: UBC Press.

Book Chapters

  • Turnbull, S. (2021) Racial Innocence, Liberal Reformism, and Immigration Detention: Toward a Politics of Abolition. In: K. Struthers Montford and C. Taylor (eds.) Building Abolition: Decarceration and Social Justice, 29-42. Abingdon: Routledge.
  • Turnbull, S. (2019) The Uses and Limits of Photovoice in Research on Life After Immigration Detention and Deportation. In: M. Deflem and D.M.D. Silva (eds.) Methods of Criminology and Criminal Justice Research. Sociology of Crime, Law, and Deviance, Volume 24, 151-164. Bingley: Emerald Publishing.
  • Turnbull, S. and Hasselberg, I. (2019) Foreign National Prisoners: Precarity and Deportability as Obstacles to Rehabilitation. In: P. Ugwudike, P. Raynor, F. McNeill, F. Taxman, C. Trotter, and H. Graham (eds.) The Routledge Companion to Rehabilitative Work in Criminal Justice, 800-811. Abingdon: Routledge.
  • Balfour, G., Hannah-Moffat, K., and Turnbull, S. (2018) Planning for Precarity? Experiencing the Carceral Continuum of Imprisonment and Reentry. In: A. Sarat (ed.) After Imprisonment. Studies in Law, Politics, and Society, Volume 77, 31-48. Bingley: Emerald Publishing.
  • Turnbull, S. (2018) Making Sense of the Shifting ‘Field’: Ethical and Practical Considerations in Researching Life After Immigration Detention. In: A. Fili, S. Jahnsen, and R. Powell (eds.) Criminal Justice Research in an Era of Mass Mobility, 130-143. Abingdon: Routledge.
  • Turnbull, S. (2018) Starting Again: Life After Deportation from the United Kingdom. In: S. Khosravi (ed.) After Deportation: Ethnographic Perspectives, 37-61. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Bosworth, M., Hasselberg, I., and Turnbull, S. (2016) Imprisonment in a Global World: Rethinking Penal Power. In: Y. Jewkes, J. Bennett, and B. Crewe (eds.) Handbook on Prisons, Second Revised Edition, 698-711. Abingdon: Routledge.
  • Bosworth, M. and Turnbull, S. (2015) Immigration Detention and the Expansion of Penal Power in the United Kingdom. In: K. Reiter and A. Koenig (eds.) Extreme Punishment: Comparative Studies in Detention, Incarceration and Solitary Confinement, 50-67. London: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Bosworth, M. and Turnbull, S. (2014) Immigration Detention, Punishment, and the Criminalization of Migration. In: S. Pickering and J. Ham (eds.) The Routledge Handbook on Crime and International Migration, 91-106. Abingdon: Routledge.

Journal articles

  • Dobson, R. and Turnbull, S. (2022) In or Against the State? Hospitality and Hostility in Homelessness Charities and Deportation Practice. International Journal of Law in Context (forthcoming).
  • Turnbull, S. (2019) Living the Spectre of Forced Return: Negotiating Deportability in British Immigration Detention. Migration Studies 7(4): 513-532. 
  • Turnbull, S. (2017) Immigration Detention and the Racialized Governance of Illegality in the United Kingdom. Social Justice 44(1): 142-164.
  • Turnbull, S. (2017) Immigration Detention and Punishment. In: H.N. Pontell (ed.) Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Criminology and Criminal Justice [online]. Oxford: Oxford University Press. DOI: 10.1093/acrefore/9780190264079.013.231.
  • Turnbull, S. and Hasselberg, I. (2017) From Prison to Detention: The Carceral Trajectories of Foreign-national Prisoners in the United Kingdom. Punishment & Society 19(2): 135-154.
  • Turnbull, S. (2016) ‘Stuck in the Middle’: Waiting and Uncertainty in Immigration Detention. Time & Society 25(1): 61-79.
  • Turnbull, S. (2014) Aboriginalising the Parole Process: ‘Culturally Appropriate’ Adaptations and the Canadian Federal Parole System. Punishment & Society 16(4): 385-405.
  • Hannah-Moffat, K., Maurutto, P., and Turnbull, S. (2009) Negotiated Risk: Actuarial Illusions and Discretion in Probation. Canadian Journal of Law and Society 24(3): 391-409.
  • Turnbull, S. and Hannah-Moffat, K. (2009) Under These Conditions: Gender, Parole and the Governance of Reintegration. British Journal of Criminology 49(4): 532-551.


Research Grants

  • 2018-2019: Principal Investigator, Visualising Immigration Detention and Deportation, Research Innovation Fund, Birkbeck College, University of London, £3,500
  • 2015-2018: Co-Investigator with D. Moore (Principal Investigator), G. Balfour, K. Hannah-Moffat, J. Martel, and D. Parkes, Prisons Transparency Project, Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) Partnership Development Grant [no. 890-2014-0034], $194,635

Research Networks

University of Waterloo

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