Sister Esther Heffernan is a widely respected leader in the areas of peace and social justice. Her 1972 book, Making It in Prison: The Square, The Cool and The Life, is a seminal work in the field. She has amassed an impressive collection of research and has published works on the history of women and prisons, the development of the American penal system, and co-correctional policies in American prisons. Sister Esther was on the Wisconsin Legislative Council's Committee on the Revision of the Criminal Code and Committee of Community Corrections, and, more recently, has joined the Dane County Task Force on Racial Disparities in the Criminal Justice System. In the general area of prison research Sister Esther was on the advisory board of the 2005 Sage Encylopedia on Prisons & Correctional Facilities. Sister Esther is Professor Emerita of Social Science at Edgewood College in Madison. She was elected a Fellow of the Wisconsin Academy in 2002.
Sister Esther Heffernan passed away on November 20, 2020.