African-Americans spend more time in our jail than whites. Why?

The Sociology and Anthropology Department will host their first research series of the new year at noon on Friday, January 29. Dr. Frank Beck, associate professor of sociology, along with criminal justice graduate student Alexis Swanson, will present their answers to the question, “Why do African Americans spend more time in jail than whites?”

Frank D Beck
Dr. Frank D. Beck, associate professor of sociology

There is an ongoing and necessary conversation about race and the criminal justice system in America; it has been too long in coming. African Americans are more likely to have negative encounters with law enforcement, compared to whites. African Americans are disproportionately more likely to be booked into the jail. Jail stays disrupt people’s lives. Stays longer than three days increase the chance of family disruption and unemployment. Our results of pre-trial detention show that length of stay is most proximately related to legal factors (severity of the charge, number of counts, and number of prior convictions). Yet, length of stay is also related to extralegal factors, such as race/ethnicity, sex, age, mental health, and year of the incarceration. While legal factors related to the case matter more, length of stay for African Americans is 50 percent longer than whites—even after holding all else constant. Why?

Alexis Swanson
Alexis Swanson, graduate student (CJS)

If interested, please follow the zoom link to attend, at noon on Friday, January 29. The talk is free and open to the public. An ISU email is not required to attend.

This information was made possible with support from McLean County and the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council.