Mobilized by Injustice: Criminal Justice Contact, Political Participation and Race
Walker, Hannah Lynn
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This dissertation asks the following questions: Under what conditions are individuals mobilized by experiences with the criminal justice system and under what conditions are individuals demobilized? How do these impacts differ among whites, Blacks and Latinos? While existing literature sends the message that all types of contact with the system leads to political withdrawal, I argue that understanding the criminal justice system as systemically unjust can mobilize people to action. A sense of systemic injustice is the belief that negative experiences with the system are a result of unfair targeting by criminal justice policy due to group affiliation. Race conditions the paths by which individuals arrive at a sense of injustice, where whites understand negative experiences through the lens of class and Blacks and Latinos leverage race-based narratives. Drawing on five survey datasets I find support for the claim that when efficacy remains intact, a sense of injustice that arises from criminal justice experiences catalyzes political action. Fifty-nine in-depth interviews illustrate the process politicization resulting from contact across racial subgroups. Importantly, this dissertation expands on the racialized nature of law enforcement through a focus on Latinos, increasingly targeted for reasons related to immigration.
- Political science