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University of California, Berkeley
policing, urban politics, criminal justice, racial politics
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My dissertation and book project investigates the origins of inequalities in the application of state power. When do democratic institutions produce egalitarian outcomes, and when do they reinforce existing inequalities? I examine these issues in the context of policing in the United States. Other scholars have traced the tremendous inequalities in the application of legal force in the United States. People of color are both more likely than whites to be arrested for similar behaviors, and less likely to receive aid from the criminal justice system in dealing with violence. What explains this legal inequality?

While most scholars focus on either national or state criminal law or the biases of individual officers, I argue that inequalities in the application of policing power are the result of differences in local political representation. I find that descriptive representation for racial minorities cuts racial disparities in over-policing by more than half — but only when racial minorities hold a majority of seats. I draw on multiple sources of data, including two years of fieldwork in East Bay cities and multiple quantitative data sets, to trace the consequences of political exclusion, and the institutional arrangements that produce it.

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