Faculty Seminar Series: Hannah Walker, "Mobilized Injustice: Criminal Justice Contact and Latinos' Political Participation"

Hannah Walker
Post-Doctoral Fellow, Prisons and Justice Initiative
Georgetown University
Thursday, October 13, 12:30-2:00 PM
ICC 141, CCAS Boardroom“Mobilized Injustice: Criminal Justice Contact and Latinos’ Political Participation”



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 racial subgroups? Existing literature overwhelmingly sends the single message that all types of contact politically demobilize, without attention to the conditions under which the injustices of the system can mobilize people to action. Additionally, although much of this work has attended to issues related to race, it focuses on the Black-white divide, despite the fact that Latinos now comprise around 35 percent of those held in federal custody. I argue that that increased targeting of Latinos by local police for the purposes of immigration enforcement constitutes a threatening policy environment triggering Latino identity. When individuals connect their experiences with the criminal justice system and ICE to a larger sense that contact was due to group-based targeting, contact can politically mobilize. I call the belief that one was targeted by police on the basis of group affiliation a sense of systemic injustice. Through focusing on the Latino community I develop an explanation for mobilization as result of contact, and bring the criminalization of immigrants through punitive immigration policy into a larger discussion of the American carceral state. My analytic approach is multimethod. I draw on the University of New Mexico Robert Wood Johnson Center for Health Policy Immigrant Health survey to quantitatively demonstrate the mobilizing impact of contact. Interviews with activists, advocates and community members provide a narrative around quantitative findings.