In the United States, almost 8 million individuals have served time in state or federal prison, 20 million individuals have a felony conviction, and roughly one-third of the total population will be arrested by age 23. Contact with the criminal justice system is ubiquitous, but it is broadly disparate. Criminal justice contact—including police stops, arrests, convictions, and incarceration—is concentrated among racial/ethnic minorities, those with low educational attainment, young men, and individuals living in disadvantaged neighborhoods. The prevalence and unequal distribution of criminal justice contact, in conjunction with its consequences across the life course and across generations, has important implications for social inequality.
For an upcoming issue of RSF, sociologist Kristin Turney and criminologist Sara Wakefield will organize a conference and co-edit the issue on criminal justice contact and inequality. It will feature ten articles that examine how criminal justice contact creates, maintains, and exacerbates social inequalities and analyze the consequences of criminal justice contact for individuals, families, and communities.