Race, Party, and Representation in Criminal Justice Politics

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Authors Laurel Eckhouse
Journal/Conference Name THE JOURNAL OF POLITICS
Paper Category
Paper Abstract What explains racial inequalities in law enforcement and criminal justice policy? I argue that political representation plays a key role. Most explanations of representation focus on partisanship or use a left-right scale to measure the effectiveness of representation. However, liberal cities like Berkeley, San Francisco, Minneapolis, and Seattle have racial disparities in policing that dwarf those found in Ferguson, the nation’s exemplar of unequal policing. Divisions by party and divisions by race interact to produce serious problems of representation on issues related to crime, policing, and violence. Black and white Democrats do not hold similar views; for both historical and electoral reasons, white Democrats have typically determined the party’s policy stances. As a result, black Americans face substantial barriers to obtaining representation on criminal justice issues (and beyond) through a partisan political system. Researchers should analyze parties as coalitions rather than homogeneous groups.
Date of publication 2019
Code Programming Language R

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