Chair: Brian Johnson

The Effects of Justice System Involvement across Multiple Domains

Building: G
Room: 12

Author: Slocum Lee Ann Slocum, University of Missouri – St. Louis

Title: Measuring the Consequences of Concentrated Enforcement Activity on Communities
A litany of studies has documented the unintended consequences faced by people who enter the criminal justice system; for example, they have more difficulty finding employment, have poorer health outcomes, and engage in more law violating behavior. While work has documented the damage done to neighborhoods when large numbers of people cycle in and out of prison, less is known about the impact of other, more common forms of criminal justice system contact on communities. Using 10 years of data, this research explores the relationship between a variety of forms of police enforcement activity (e.g., arrests, issuance of citations, pedestrian checks, etc.) and community characteristics in St. Louis City. Particular attention is paid to various methods of measuring the potential consequences of concentrated enforcement activity on civic engagement and citizens’ involvement in the co-production of safety. Information on police enforcement activity was obtained from St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department (SLMPD) and was geo-coded and aggregated to the census-tract level. Community characteristics were captured using a number of sources including data from the United States Census, systematic observations, and 311 calls. Results from this study contribute to the emerging literature on the unintended consequences of concentrated enforcement activity on neighborhoods.
Keywords: policing, community
Author: Johnson Brian Johnson , University of Maryland

Pilar Larroulet, University of Maryland
Title: The “Distance Traveled”: Investigating the Downstream Consequences of Charge Reductions for Disparities in Incarceration
Relatively little empirical work examines the impact that prosecutorial charging decisions exert on sentencing. We investigate this issue by estimating the “distance traveled” in charge bargaining, or the expected change in the likelihood of incarceration associated with reductions in charges at different stages of prosecution. Using detailed data on charging decisions in New York County, we examine how the probability of incarceration shifts as a result of charging decisions. We then investigate racial and gender disparities in the “distance traveled” to provide new insights into the role that charge bargaining plays in contributing to social inequalities in punishment. Findings indicate that charge reductions are associated with sizeable decreases in the probability of incarceration, particularly for charging changes that occur as part of the plea bargaining process between screening and conviction. On average, the distance traveled is substantially greater for female than male defendants and for White compared to Black and Latino defendants, even after accounting for a host of other relevant punishment factors. Findings are discussed as they relate to contemporary theoretical perspectives on prosecutorial decision-making and social inequality in punishment.
Keywords: incarceration, sentencing
Author: Porter Lauren Porter , University of Maryland

Hedwig Lee, University of Washington
Title: Oppressed and Distressed: Time Served in U.S. Prison and the Mental Health Penalty Paid by African American Females
Imprisonment is an experience that varies by duration, yet we know little about how this variation impacts psychological wellbeing. Research suggests that longer lengths may be more harmful due to repeated and prolonged exposure to stressors. On the other hand, prisoners may adapt to prison life, meaning that longer durations could be accompanied by greater adjustment (and in turn, lower levels of distress). In addition, the prison experience as well as capacity to cope with prison life may vary across race and sex. Thus, the relationship between duration and mental health may not be uniform. Using the Survey of Inmates in State and Federal Correctional Facilities (2004), we examine the relationship between incarceration “dosage” and mental health among current prisoners. We find that time served is negatively related to mental health symptoms and specifically, symptoms related to anger and psychosis. However, the experience is markedly different for black females, whose predicted mental health worsens with time.
Keywords: incarceration, mental health
Author: Loughran Thomas Loughran , Pennsylvania State University

Holly Nguyen, Pennsylvania State University
Title: Anticipated Struggle: Perceptions of Future Labor Market Difficulties Among Incarcerated Offenders
Numerous challenges face formerly incarcerated individuals which affect communities, families and criminal recidivism. From a labeling and cumulative disadvantage perspective, a collateral consequence of incarceration is exclusion from conventional opportunities such as employment and education. Participation in the labor force after being incarcerated can be an important step in a former inmate's reintegration into the community. Yet this is frequently one of the most difficult tasks former offenders undertake. Among this socially and economically disadvantaged group, having a criminal record makes it even harder to find employment or have decent wages and impedes occupational mobility (Kling 2006; Pettit and Lyons 2009). Yet to date, very little research considers how subjective beliefs about potential difficulties for securing stable legitimate employment post release are internalized by prisoners, and how these beliefs can induce affected individuals to forego searching for legitimate opportunities and return to crime. The current study uses data collected from a sample of N=511 soon-to-be released incarcerated offenders, for whom we directly elicit perceptions of future labor market discrimination. Specifically, we examine how subjective expectations are related to an individual’s future job-seeking behavior and employment post-release. Moreover, we demonstrate the predictive validly of these measures by linking to post-release recidivism.
Keywords: incarceration, employment, discrimination
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