Amy Lerman. Arresting Citizenship: The Democratic Consequences of American Crime Control

Monday, April 20, 2015 - 2:00pm to 3:30pm
Blumer Room - 402 Barrows Hall

Arresting Citizenship: The Democratic Consequences of American Crime Control

In this project, we argue that institutions of criminal justice have become an important source of political socialization, in which the lessons that are imprinted are antagonistic to democratic participation and inspire negative orientations toward government. To test this argument, we conduct the first systematic empirical exploration of how criminal justice involvement shapes the citizenship, political voice and racial attitudes of a growing swath of Americans. We find that custodial involvement carries with it a substantial civic penalty that is not explained by criminal propensity or socioeconomic differences alone. Our research suggests that the historical growth of the criminal justice sector has profound consequences for the political representation of historically marginalized groups and for the health of American democracy.

Amy E. Lerman is the Michelle Schwarz Associate Professor of Public Policy at the University of California, Berkeley. Her research is focused on issues of race, public opinion and political behavior, especially in relation to crime policy and social inequality. Professor Lerman is the author of two books on the American criminal justice system—The Modern Prison Paradox (Cambridge University Press, 2013) and Policing Democracy (The University of Chicago Press, 2014)—and her research appears in a wide variety of journals, including the American Political Science Review, Perspectives on Politics, Public Opinion Quarterly, Punishment & Society and Political Psychology. Her forthcoming book, The Public Reputation Crisis, examines how perceptions of government shape citizens’ attitudes toward privatization. Professor Lerman holds a PhD in political science, and was an Assistant Professor at Princeton University prior to joining the faculty at Berkeley. In addition, Lerman has served as a speechwriter and communications consultant for national nonprofits and members of the United States Congress, and was a community organizer in Latin America and Southeast Asia. She is currently an adjunct faculty member of the Prison University Project at San Quentin State Prison.