CJRC Travel Grants 2018
Graduate Students: Eric LaPlant and Lesley Schneider
Title: On the Computer, You’re a Monster”: Formerly Convicted Persons’ Self-Presentation During the Job Application Process
Abstract: Scholars have documented the detrimental effects of a criminal record on employment. While much is known about employers’ reluctance to hiring applicants with criminal records, little research has focused on the experiences of persons with records as they navigate the hiring process. Through 50 in-depth interview with recently restored citizens, we examine how they manage their identities in order to counter stigma and optimize their chances of obtaining employment. We find that face-to-face interaction with employers is seen as a crucial first step in the self-presentation process. Then, applicants are able to selectively disclose distant or less serious offenses, explain the circumstances surrounding these offenses, and can tailor their responses to their interviewer. We also discuss applicants’ aversion towards background check statements, which are thought to reduce the ability to manage one’s identity, creating the fear that applicants will be judged solely on a comprehensive overview of their criminal histories. Further, we explicate the concept of the “candor trap,” whereby applicants fear that even minor discrepancies between responses and employer-conducted background checks may cause employers to view applicants as dishonest, and in turn, reduce the odds of employment. We situate our results in current policy debates surrounding Ban-the-Box policies.
Graduate Student: Scott Duxbury
Title: Fear or Loathing in the US? Fear of Crime, Prejudice, and Racial Disparity in Mass Incarceration, 1978 -2015
Abstract: Although a large body of literature identifies glaring racial disparities at all stages of criminal justice processing, little empirical research has examined how public sentiments may have contributed to racial disparity in incarceration rates throughout mass incarceration. This article tests the influence of racial animus and traces a portion of the rise in racial disparity in incarceration rates to historically high levels of fear of crime. It analyzes data on incarceration at the state and national level, leveraging analytic methods developed in political science to construct robust measures of public opinion from the General Social Survey and the Gallup poll. Results from time series and fixed effects analyses indicate that public fear of crime played a larger role in rising racial disparity in incarceration rates than racial animus or racial threat. Fixed effects analyses also indicate that fear of crime mediates a sizable portion of the effect of racial gaps in violent offending. These findings reveal unexplored processes through which fear of crime contributes to racial inequality in the criminal justice system. As such, they hold implications for research on racial disparity in criminal justice processing, the politics of punishment, and historical legacies of racial subjugation.
Graduate Students: Sadé Lindsay and with Laura C. Frizzell
Title: “When Muslimhood is Protective: Black Women and Police in the U.S.”
Abstract: There is a long and contentious history between police and Black communities in the United States. Research conducted on police violence largely focuses on excessive use of force and the ways it disproportionately affects Black men. Although Black women play key historical and contemporary roles in Black communities and social movements, we know little about the impact of police violence on Black women. We address this gap by conducting in-depth, semi-structured interviews with a diverse group of Black women in Columbus, Ohio. We use inductive, qualitative coding techniques to identify salient themes. In this talk, we take an intersectional approach and focus on the experiences of Black Muslim women. We find that, contrary to expectations, Black Muslim women who wear hijabs find their heightened visibility protective compared to non-Muslim Black women when interacting with police. We highlight lack of Black Muslim women’s media representation and unique stereotypes about African Americans as potential explanations for this finding.
Graduate Students: Sadé Lindsay, Ameila (Qi) Li, Cynthia G. Colen
Title: Born Disadvantaged: Community Incarceration and Birth Outcomes in Ohio Counties
Abstract: Despite a developing literature on the health consequences of incarceration, scholars have not explored its impact at the county level extensively. This research project addresses this gap by investigating the association between incarceration rates and birth outcomes in 88 Ohio counties. Using longitudinal data from the Ohio Department of Health, the Vera Institute of Justice, and the American Community Survey, we ask specifically whether residence in counties with higher incarceration rates is correlated with elevated probabilities of preterm and low-birthweight infants. Our multilevel logistic analyses indicate a significant relationship between county incarceration rates and unhealthy birth outcomes. These findings not only contribute to an interdisciplinary scholarship on the collateral consequences of mass incarceration in the contemporary United States, but also offer important policy implications for criminal justice, community care, and public health.
CJRC Travel Grants 2017
Graduate Student: Lesley Schneider
Title: “The Racial Punishment Paradox: Why More Blacks Go to Prison Even When Judges Sentence More Equally”
Abstract: A mainstay of criminal sentencing research is that black defendants are, on average, treated more harshly than whites. But to what extent has this pattern changed over time, and how might we explain such variation? Further, do changes in the black-white disparity in sentencing map onto the trends in aggregate prison populations? We draw on 33 years of sentencing records (1981-2013; N>350,000) for the state of Minnesota to answer these questions. Our findings point to a ‘racial punishment paradox’: While the racial disparity in state imprisonment rates increased since 1980, the racial disparity in prison sentences decreased. We further investigate whether this incongruity between macro-level and case-level racial disparity is attributable to changes in arrest rates, drug laws, and racial disparities in sentence lengths.
Graduate Student: Laura DeMarco
Title: “Variation and Change in Criminal Record Policies for Public Housing”
Abstract: There is a widespread misconception that having a criminal record excludes individuals from public housing. While a series of federal policies in the 1980s and 1990s encouraged the use of criminal background checks for applicants, local Public Housing Authorities (PHAs) have a great deal of discretion in their admissions and occupancy criteria. This project aims to explore the variation and change in admissions policies and administrative plans at the local level. In particular, I ask how local PHAs responded to federal guidelines during the rise of mass incarceration. Which places adopted the most restrictive policies considering criminal records in the admissions process? Which places held on to less restrictive policies? Were federal efforts under the Obama administration successful in encouraging local agencies to give those with a criminal record a second chance? I will present preliminary results from a randomly selected sample of PHAs across the United States to answer these questions.
Graduate Student: Courtney DeRoche
Title: “Predicting Punitiveness: Exposure to Violence and Victims’ Attitudes in Darfur”
Abstract: Transitional justice literature has predominantly concentrated on the effects of transitional justice mechanisms on victimized populations after the mechanisms have been implemented. Little is known, however, about victims’ attitudes before the implementation of such processes. As such, we ask: is greater exposure to violence associated with more punitive attitudes? To answer this question, we analyze survey data from 1,490 externally displaced Darfuri genocide victims living in refugee camps across eastern Chad. Specifically, we examine whether two measures of exposure to violence—personal and familial victimization—predict support of the death penalty for the five main actors in the genocide: government officials, army commanders, government soldiers, Janjaweed commanders, and Janjaweed soldiers. We find that high exposure to either form of violence is associated with higher odds of preferring the death penalty for government officials, army commanders, and Janjaweed commanders. Surprisingly, there is no relationship between exposure to violence and preference for the death penalty for government soldiers, who are the lower ranking “foot-soldiers” who have carried out the majority of the violence in villages across Darfur. Victims’ punitive attitudes thus differ by the perpetrator’s level of authority, and victims are more likely to have more punitive attitudes with regard to those seen as responsible for the violence. We close by emphasizing the importance of incorporating victim’s attitudes into post-conflict transitional justice decisions, as a consideration of victims’ attitudes may influence the effectiveness of reconciliation efforts.
Graduate Student: Scott Duxbury
Title: “Structural Determinants of Police Use of Deadly Force”
Abstract: Police killings are a social problem. While the legitimate use of force is a necessary feature of police safety and public well-being, the illegitimate use of force can oppress groups by enacting latent prejudices, deterring groups from reporting crimes, and cultivating police distrust. Since police disproportionately use deadly force on Black men, some scholars have argued that police killings are a form of social control in response to perceived racial threat. However, this research focuses primarily on structural determinants of police use of deadly force, leaving the ideological mechanisms which connect population changes to individual actions unexamined. Our project examines attitudinal and ideological correlates of internal state violence. Specifically, we examine the effects of racial threat, fear of crime, and punitive attitudes on police killings. Our data are cross-sectional time series data of counties and states in election years. We use negative binomial multilevel models with random slopes to the incidence rate of police killings and police killings against Blacks in a given county on a given year. Our primary research focus seeks to uncover whether fear of crime and punitive attitudes mediate the effect of racial threat on police killings of Blacks. Positive results will have implications for minority threat theory, which is often critiqued for providing little causal explanation for its empirical predictions, studies on race and policing, and cultural approaches to the sociology of punishment.
Graduate Student: Laura Frizzell
Title: “Sexuality and Crime: A Contextual Exploration”
Abstract: The recent integration and centering of sexuality in criminological research has elicited important findings regarding individuals’ sexual identities and their trajectory from offending through the criminal justice system. In particular, researchers have found that sexual minorities may have higher propensities toward criminal and delinquent activities as compared to same-gender heterosexual peers, especially for women. However, insufficient research has explored the mechanisms behind these disparate propensities. Under the framework of general strain theory, I investigate potential contextual factors that may increase daily strain for sexual minorities and consequently their propensity to commit crime, including rural residency (compared to urban or suburban) and Southern residency (as compared to other regions of the country). Additionally, for adolescents, I investigate whether the number and proportion of sexual minorities within their school predicts delinquency. I use data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health to predict the frequency of delinquent acts. I find that, while context matters in predicting this frequency, individual factors remain the strongest predictors of delinquency for heterosexual and sexual minority individuals alike.
Graduate Student: Sade Lindsay
Title: “Racial Framing, Moral Crusades, and Drug Epidemics”
Abstract: Researchers focusing on media and political discourse during drug epidemics afflicting racial minorities find that politicians create moral crusades to impose social control upon these communities. Given the historical significance of race in the U.S., these studies are important in exhibiting how racially charged moral crusades largely result in punitive statutes. However, scholars are inattentive to how politicians and the media frame moral crusades during drug epidemics afflicting whites. In this study, I use the 1980s crack cocaine epidemic and the current heroin and opiate epidemic to analyze how the media and politicians frame white drugs epidemics compared to Black drug epidemics. Using a dataset of 400 news articles, I conduct a qualitative content analysis and find politicians and the media frame white and Black drug epidemics differently. They frame the heroin epidemic as a public health concern by humanizing heroin addicts and advocating for collective action. In contrast, they frame the crack epidemic as a public safety concern emphasizing social control and crime prevention over treatment and rehabilitation. Lastly, I find that racialized rhetoric is utilized to facilitate these different approaches. These findings have implications for racial inequality in both criminal justice and public health.