Resilience and Racial Equity Speaker Series: Kevin Wozniak
Race, Politics, and Public Opinion about Justice Reinvestment
Dr. Kevin Wozniak, UMass Boston Sociology Department
About the Presentation
Across the country, numerous states (including Massachusetts) are pursuing “justice reinvestment” reforms designed to save money by sentencing nonviolent offenders to less expensive, community-based sanctions instead of prison and instead invest funds into more evidence-based approaches to preventing crime. While JRI has been popular among policymakers, we know very little about public support for the justice reinvestment paradigm. In this study, I collected and analyzed focus group and survey data to answer two research questions. First, what do members of the public think about JRI-style reform, and how would they choose to reinvest saved funds into future crime prevention? Second, how does the language used to describe JRI reform affect people’s crime prevention budget preferences? I pay particular attention to differences in opinion between white and black participants, and I test whether or not exposure to racialized cue words polarizes opinion across race.About the Presenter
Kevin H. Wozniak is an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Massachusetts Boston. He studies the politics of punishment and criminal justice. He received his PhD from American University in Washington, D.C. He is a recipient of the W.E.B. Du Bois Fellowship for Research in Race, Gender, Culture, and Crime from the National Institute of Justice. He is also a past Congressional Fellow of the American Political Science Association, during which he worked on criminal justice and education policy for Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA).