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Reverberations of Inequality - ALEXES HARRIS

Thursday, December 12, 2019 - 4:30pm to 6:00pm

Forum (Room 250), Ronald O. Perelman Center for Political Science and Economics
Map Accessibility / Refreshments Provided

ALEXES HARRIS is a University of Washington Presidential Term Professor in Sociology. Her research interests focus on social stratification processes and racial and ethnic disparities. She investigates how contact with varying institutions (educational, juvenile and criminal justice and economic) impact individuals' life chances.  Her book, A Pound of Flesh (2016), documents the contemporary relationship between the United States' systems of social control and inequality.  Using a mixed-method approach (court observations, interviews with court actors and defendants, review of legal statute and cases, and statistical analysis of court automated data), it analyzes the particular policies and mechanisms used within the criminal justice system to impose and monitor sanctions to poor people who do not pay their legal debts, and I examine the consequences of this process. Outlining how local community and court culture and financial constraints influence contemporary notions of who should be held accountable for their actions by the criminal justice system, Harris argues that monetary sanctions serve as a punishment tool that permanently penalize and marginalize the poor.