Luke Muentner, PhD, MSW

Post-Doctoral Research Fellow

Leadership Education in Adolescent Health (LEAH)
Department of Pediatrics, University of Minnesota.

man in black hoodie standing near brown concrete building during daytime

As a doctoral candidate at the University of Wisconsin-Madison's School of Social Work and a Graduate Research Fellow at the Institute for Research on Poverty, my research centers on mass incarceration, community reentry, and the consequences that they have for child and family well-being. My research involves a critical analysis of system disparities and risk factors while emphasizing individual, family, and community resilience. I bring to my work strong analytical skills, a consistent track record of productivity, and a dedicated focus on equity and social justice.

View my CV

My dissertation examines the well-being of children when parents are released from prison. Given the burgeoning literature that documents generally poor outcomes for children amidst their parents' incarceration, much remains unknown as to how these children fare when parents return to the community. My mixed methods dissertation provides one of the first formal accounts that documents the life and well-being of children while their parents are in reentry.


Human Development and Family Studies 535: A Family Perspective on Policy Making

Independent Instructor, 3 semesters

Explores the relationship between family functioning and public/private policies at the local, state and federal levels and examines different avenues for influencing policy development.

Luke is able to shed light on important social justice issues by amplifying marginalized voices without showing his own political bias. He is always challenging us to create our own opinions instead of simply sharing his own.

Luke takes important technical vocabulary and political theory and is always able to perfectly craft these concepts into relevant lessons about the world around us. I truly feel like I am a more informed citizen because of his teaching.

I love that he welcomed us and created a comfortable and positive environment where we felt engaged and able to share our thoughts. He was also always there for us and always looked to debrief in order to better himself and the course.

Practice and Advocacy

“Proximity has taught me some basic and humbling truths, including this vital lesson: Each of us is more than the worst thing we’ve ever done. My work with the poor and the incarcerated has persuaded me that the opposite of poverty is not wealth; the opposite of poverty is justice. Finally, I’ve come to believe that the true measure of our commitment to justice, the character of our society, our commitment to the rule of law, fairness, and equality cannot be measured by how we treat the rich, the powerful, the privileged, and the respected among us. The true measure of our character is how we treat the poor, the disfavored, the accused, the incarcerated, and the condemned.”

― Bryan Stevenson, Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption

Community Organizing

Engaging in local, statewide, and national advocacy and action opportunities on criminal justice reform that respond to root causes of injustice.

Reentry Case Management

Creating intervention plans and supporting people recently released from jail and prison with housing, employment, health, and support needs.

Program Development

Designing, implementing, and evaluating a community program tailored to the unique needs of families following a fathers' incarceration.