Victor Rios

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Victor M. Rios is a Mexican-American professor, author, and former high school drop-out and juvenile delinquent.[1] His research examines how racism, inequality, and class play a role in determining if a person will be successful in education.[2]

Early life

Rios immigrated with his mother to the United States when he was two years old and grew up in a single parent household in one of the poorest neighborhoods in East Oakland, where he was surrounded by drugs and gangs. Rios dropped out of school in the eighth grade.[3] He would later attempt to attend school a second time, but dropped out again soon after. After being a victim of gun violence multiple times he decided to resume his schooling with the help of one of his high school teachers, Flora Russ and various other mentors.[1]

In 1995 Rios began attending California State University, East Bay, with the condition that he take part in a summer program that would teach him basic college academic skills.[4] He graduated from East Bay in 2000 and by 2005, had earned a master's degree and a Ph.D. from University of California, Berkeley.[4]


Rios is currently employed by University of California, Santa Barbara, where he works as a Professor of Sociology.[5] He is the co-winner of the 2013 Oliver Cromwell Cox Award for his book Punished: Policing the Lives of Black and Latino Boys,[6] and is the creator of the sociological theories, "The Youth Control Complex", "Racialized Punitive Social Control", and "Cultural Misframing." [7] In the youth control complex theory Rios argues that the prison and education systems work together to "criminalize, stigmatize, and punish young inner city boys and men."[7] He opposes terms such as "at risk youth", as he feels that the term "at risk" has damaging affects on children. He recommends the term "at-promise" instead. [4][8]


  • Punished: Policing the Lives of Black and Latino Boys (NYU Press, 2011)[9]
  • Street Life: Poverty, Gangs, and a Ph.D (Five Rivers Press, 2011)
  • Project GRIT: Generating Resilience to Inspire Transformation (Five Rivers Press, 2016)
  • Buscando Vida, Encontrando Éxito: La Fuerza de La Cultura Latina en la Educación (Five Rivers Press, 2016)
  • Human Targets: Schools, Police, and the Criminalization of Latino Youth (University of Chicago Press, 2017)


  1. ^ a b "One Man's Journey From Gang Member to Academia". PBS NewsHour. Retrieved 2017-02-08. 
  2. ^ Rios, V. (2012-11-16). "Reframing the Achievement Gap". Contexts. 11 (4): 8–10. doi:10.1177/1536504212466324. 
  3. ^ Rios, Victor M. (2011-01-13). Street Life: Poverty, Gangs, and a Ph.D. California: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform. ISBN 9781453832691. 
  4. ^ a b c Tijero, Evelyn. "From East Oakland to Ph.D." The Pioneer. Retrieved 2017-02-09. 
  5. ^ "Victor Rios | Sociology". Retrieved 2017-02-08. 
  6. ^ "Section on Racial and Ethnic Minorities Past Award Recipients". American Sociological Association. 2011-03-08. Retrieved 2017-02-08. 
  7. ^ a b Wade, Lisa; on, PhD (November 10, 2010). "Victor Rios and the Youth Control Theory". Sociological Images. Retrieved February 10, 2017. 
  8. ^ "At Promise Youth | UCSB Sustainability". Retrieved 2017-02-09. 
  9. ^ Monaghan, Peter (2011-07-17). "A Sociologist Returns to the Mean Streets of His Youth". The Chronicle of Higher Education. ISSN 0009-5982. Retrieved 2017-05-31. 
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