Professor Jefferis’s research focuses on theories of punishment and the law and policy governing prison and detention, with an emphasis on the for-profit prison industry and immigration-related confinement. She takes both critical and comparative approaches to her work, looking at carceral systems, practices, and theories around the world. Professor Jefferis has presented her research at Harvard Law School, the University of Texas at Austin, the University of Denver College of Law, Loyola University School of Law, Louisiana State University Law, the Australian National University, London University, Amsterdam Law School, the University of Lisbon, and Leiden University, among others. She has provided expert commentary on prison and detention issues for national and international media outlets, including VICE, Mother Jones, and NowThis, and has been solicited as an amicus curiae for cases involving prison law and prisoners’ rights in courts around the country.
Professor Jefferis’s scholarship is informed by her unique teaching and practice experience, which lie at the intersection of constitutional law and prisoners’ rights, immigration law, and federal courts. She has extensive civil rights litigation experience and has represented plaintiffs in federal courts across the country, including in the United States Supreme Court. She has taken several cases to trial and successfully litigated numerous appeals. In 2018, she was a member of a team of clinic faculty and student attorneys that successfully challenged the constitutionality of a federal prisoner’s convictions, resulting in his release from prison. One of her most memorable moments as an attorney and teacher was witnessing her client reunite with his family after being separated from them for more than a decade.
Prior to joining the Nebraska Law faculty, Professor Jefferis taught at California Western School of Law in San Diego and in the Civil Rights Clinic at the University of Denver College of Law. Before entering academia, she was the Nadine Strossen Fellow with the American Civil Liberties Union’s National Security Project in New York and an associate attorney with a boutique civil rights firm in Colorado. Professor Jefferis also clerked for the now-retired Honorable Gale T. Miller of the Colorado Court of Appeals.
Civil Rights Litigation 729/G
This is a three-credit introductory study of American civil rights law with a focus on general civil rights enforcement against government actors. In this course, we will examine the primary sources of law defining “civil rights,” the means by which a plaintiff may litigate a civil rights claim against individuals and entities, and the limitations and defenses that may be available to a party defending against such a claim. You will study the doctrine of constitutional tort law as applied to state and federal actors, civil rights limitations and defenses like absolute and qualified immunity, supervisory and municipal liability, the enforcement of certain statutory rights, available remedies, and matters of institutional reform or “impact litigation.” We recommend taking Constitutional Law II before or alongside this course.
Race & the Law 664R
his is a three-credit seminar examining the intersection of race and the law and, specifically, the role that law has played and continues to play in the oppression, subordination, and promotion of people and groups based on race. We will anchor our studies with a look at the historical periods involving slavery, the Civil War, the First Reconstruction, the Jim Crow era, and the Civil Rights Movement and Second Reconstruction, before examining contemporary issues of race in areas of the law such as land use, education, employment, policing, punishment, and elections. Enrollment limit 15.
An introduction to the theory and practice of litigation in federal and state courts. Topics studied include jurisdiction, pleading, joinder, discovery, motion practice, the right to jury trial, trial and post-trial motions, appellate review and preclusion doctrine.
Carceral Deference, (work-in-progress).
Carceral Intent, 27 Mich. J. of Race & L. 323 (2022) (forthcoming).
American Punishment and Pandemic, 21 Nevada L.J. 1207 (2021).
Beyond Emissions: Migration, Prisons, and the Green New Deal, 51 Environmental L. 161 (2021) (with Wyatt G. Sassman).
Yearning to Breathe Free: Migration-Related Confinement in America, 106 Cornell L. Rev. Online 27 (2020).
Constitutionally Unaccountable: Privatized Immigration Detention, 95 Indiana L.J. 145 (2020).
Delegating Care, Evading Review: The Federal Tort Claims Act and Access to Medical Care in Federal Private Prisons, 80 La. L. Rev. 37 (2019).
Private Prisons, Private Governance: Essay on Developments in Private-Sector Resistance to Privatized Immigration Detention, 15 NW J.L. & Soc. Pol’y 82 (2019).
It’s Just Like Prison: Is a Civil (Nonpunitive System of Immigration Detention Theoretically Possible?, 96 Denv. L. Rev. 953 (2019) (with René Lima-Marín).
“The Prison Pandemic,” in The Impact of COVID-19 on Civil Rights and Social Justice (Am. Bar. Assoc., forthcoming 2023) (with Nicole B. Godfrey).
Presenter, “Carceral Competencies + Carceral Intent,” Law and Society Annual Meeting 2022, ISCTE Instituto Universitário de Lisboa, Lisbon, Portugal (July 15, 2022).
Presenter, “Carceral Competencies,” Courts as an Arena of Societal Change, Leiden University, Leiden Law, Leiden, Netherlands (July 8, 2022).
Presenter, “Carceral Competencies,” ComplianceNet 2022, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam Law School, Amsterdam, Netherlands (July 8, 2022).
Presenter, “Carceral Competencies,” W.G. Hart Legal Workshop 2022, Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, School of Advanced Study | University of London, London, United Kingdom (June 10, 2022).
Keynote Speaker, “New Law Teachers Workshop,” American Association of Law Schools—Women in Legal Education Section, Washington, D.C. (June 3, 2022).
Presenter, “Carceral Intent,” American Constitution Society Constitutional Law Scholars Forum, Barry University School of Law, Miami, Florida (February 25, 2022).
Presenter, “Incarceration Inequalities,” ANU Law 60th Anniversary Conference: Public Law and Inequality, The Australian National University, Canberra, Australia (February 16, 2022).
Presenter, “Administrative Challenges to Achieving Decarceral Imperatives,” Administrative Law Review Symposium, American University Washington College of Law, Washington, D.C. (Oct. 29, 2021).
Discussant, “HATE: Should We Resist It with Free Speech, Not Censorship? Featuring Nadine Strossen,” California Western School of Law, San Diego, California (June 10, 2021).
Presenter, “Carceral Spaces, COVID-19, and Civil (In)Justice: A Comparative Look at Australia, Italy, and the United States,” Law and Society 2020 Annual Meeting, Chicago, Illinois (May 27, 2021).
Discussant, “Conversation with Andrea Freeman, Author of Skimmed,” California Western School of Law, San Diego, California (March 9, 2021).
Panelist, “Defending and Promoting Civil Rights in a Time of Coronavirus,” University of Miami School of Law, Miami, Florida (Sept. 17, 2020).
Panelist, “Housing and Justice During COVID-19,” Civil Rights Week & Fair Housing Film Festival, Baltimore Office of Equity and Civil Rights, Baltimore, Maryland (August 26, 2020).
Moderator, “Immigration Enforcement and Deportation,” Law and Society 2020 Annual Meeting, Denver, Colorado (May 31, 2020).
Panelist, “Migrating to Prison: America’s Obsession with Locking Up Immigrants,” Law and Society 2020 Annual Meeting, Denver, Colorado (May 31, 2020).
Presenter, “The Punitive Nature of Non-Citizen Detention: Perspectives from History, Sociology, and Law,” Law and Society 2020 Annual Meeting, Denver, Colorado (May 30, 2020).
Moderator (in discussion with Nadine Strossen), “HATE: Should We Resist It with Free Speech, Not Censorship?”, Civil Rights Summit, University of Denver Sturm College of Law, Denver, Colorado (January 24, 2020).
Co-presenter, “Litigating Claims Against Federal Prison and Detention Officials,” Colorado Trial Lawyers Association, Denver, Colorado (January 17, 2020) (invited).
Panelist, “Privacy and National Security, American Constitution Society Western Regional Convening,” Denver, Colorado (October 25-26, 2019) (invited).
Panelist, “Immigration Detention and Abolition,” Prison Abolition, Human Rights, and Penal Reform: From the Local to the Global, University of Texas at Austin, School of Law, Austin, Texas (September 27, 2019).
Panelist, “Alternatives to Immigration Detention,” Harvard Law Review Symposium, Harvard Law School, Cambridge, Massachusetts (April 11, 2019) (invited).
Panelist, “ICE and the Constitution,” University of Denver Sturm College of Law, Denver, Colorado (March 27, 2019) (invited).
Panelist, “Prisoners’ Rights and Prison Accountability,” Civil Rights Summit, University of Denver Sturm College of Law, Denver, Colorado (February 15, 2019) (invited).
Panelist, “Prison Reform, Prisoner Rights, Policy Work, and Overall Reform of the Criminal Justice System,” Louisiana Law Review Symposium, Louisiana State University Law, Baton Rouge, Louisiana (February 1, 2019).
Moderator, “Conditions of Confinement in Immigration Detention,” Prisoners’ Advocates Conference, University of Denver Sturm College of Law, Denver, Colorado (October 5-6, 2018) (invited).
Panelist, “Contesting and Disrupting Racial Narratives in Pedagogy and Practice,” Justice, Professionalism and the Lawyer as Public Citizen, Midwest Clinical Legal Education Conf., University of Kansas School of Law, Lawrence, Kansas (October 13, 2017).
Panelist, “Pedagogical Tools to Sharpen Student Engagement with Marginalized Communities,” Association of American Law Schools Conference on Clinical Legal Education, Denver, Colorado (May 6-9, 2017).