A Vera Institute of Justice Research Symposium
October 25 and 26, 2018

The unprecedented scale of incarceration in the United States has many political, economic, and social effects. The inaugural symposium leveraged the uniquely detailed historical dataset of incarceration in local jails and state prisons that Vera developed to explore the use of incarceration at the county level. It is largely county officials—judges, prosecutors, people who manage jails—that decide how communities use incarceration (i.e., who is sent to jail and prison, and for how long). Thus, county-level variability makes for more robust, theoretically-grounded studies of the causes and impacts of high rates of incarceration seen across the United States. Symposium participants—selected through a call for papers—represented a variety of disciplines including sociology, history, criminology, public health, and economics.

Incarceration (Panel 1)

Caring Cages, Coalfield Crisis: The Political Economy of Incarceration in Indiana and Kentucky
Judah Schept, Associate Professor in the School of Justice Studies, Eastern Kentucky University

More Beds, Less Welfare: Jail Incarceration Growth in Upstate New York
Andrew Pragacz, Doctoral Student in Sociology, Binghamton University

“Jails Everywhere are Inadequate”: Histories of County Jails before 1970 and Beyond
Melanie Newport, Assistant Professor of History, University of Connecticut

Discussant: Jack Norton, Vera Institute of Justice

Conceptions of Incarceration Growth (Panel 2)

The Downstream Effects of State Prison Reform
Amy Lerman, Assistant Professor, University of California, Berkeley
Alyssa Mooney, Postdoctoral Fellow, California Policy Lab

Job Loss and Incarceration: Local Effects of a Natural Experiment
John Clegg, Collegiate Assistant Professor, University of Chicago
Adaner Usmani, Postdoctoral Fellow at the Watson Institute, Brown University
Jacob Kang-Brown, Senior Research Associate, Vera Institute of Justice

Can You Move to Opportunity: Evidence from the Great Migration
Ellora Derenoncourt, Doctoral Student in Economics, Harvard University

Discussant: Heather Schoenfeld, Boston University

Spatial and Scalar Variation (Panel 3)

Jailing Immigrant Detainees
Emily Ryo, Associate Professor of Law and Sociology, USC Gould School of Law
Ian Peacock, Doctoral Student in Sociology, UCLA

The Politics of Punishment is Purple: Carceral Capacity and Disadvantage in the Prison Boom
John Eason, Associate Professor of Sociology, University of Wisconsin
Mary E. Campbell, Associate Professor of Sociology, Texas A&M University
Benjamin Ghasemi, Doctoral Student in Sociology, Texas A&M University
Eileen Huey, Doctoral Student in Sociology, Texas A&M University

Farm Aid for the Big House
Jack Norton, Research Associate, Vera Institute of Justice

Discussant: Nina Siulc, Vera Institute of Justice

The Changing and Uneven Geography of Mass Incarceration (Panel 4)

Incarceration Diffusion: A County-Level Examination of Racial Variation in The Spread of Incarceration from 1980-2010
Ifeoma Ajunwa, Associate Member of the Law Faculty & Assistant Professor, School of Industrial & Labor Relations, Cornell University
Peter Rich, Assistant Professor of Policy Analysis and Management, Cornell University

Excess Punishment: The Geographic Concentration Of Mass Incarceration
Jessica Simes, Assistant Professor of Sociology, Boston University

The Impact of Geographic Changes in the Use of Confinement on the Racial and Ethnic Composition of Prison and Jail Inmates
Katherine Beckett, Professor of Sociology, University of Washington
Lindsey Beach, Doctoral Student in Sociology, University of Washington
Discussant: Jacob Kang-Brown, Vera Institute of Justice

Incarceration and Health (Panel 5)

Deindustrialization, Incarceration, and Mortality from Diseases of Despair In the United States: County-level Analysis, 1980-2014
Elias Nosrati, Doctoral Student in Sociology, Cambridge University
Jacob Kang-Brown, Senior Research Associate, Vera Institute of Justice
Michael Ash, Professor of Economics, University of Massachusetts, Amherst
Martin McKee, Professor of European Public Health, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine
Michael Marmot, Professor of Epidemiology and Public Health, University College, London
Lawrence King, Professor of Economics, University of Massachusetts, Amherst

Does Reducing Incarceration Rates Improve Population Health? A County-Level Analysis
Robert Weidner, Professor of Anthropology, Sociology and Criminology, University of Minnesota Duluth
Jennifer Schultz, Associate Professor of Economics, University of Minnesota Duluth

Health Impacts of Mass Incarceration: Association between County Jail Incarceration Rates and Risk of Preterm Birth in U.S. Women in 2015
Jacquelyn Jahn, Doctoral Student in Social and Behavioral Sciences, Harvard School of Public Health

Discussant: Jim Parsons, Vera Institute of Justice

Looking Ahead (Panel 6)

Who is Providing Health Care to Jail Inmates?: Examining Demographic, Health, and Criminal Justice Correlates to Medical Staffing across U.S. County Jails
Kathryn Nowotny, Assistant Professor of Sociology, University of Miami
Marisa Omori, Assistant Professor of Sociology, University of Miami

The Economic Consequences of Rural Prison Development
Hannah Walker, Assistant Professor of Political Science and Criminal Justice, Rutgers University
Loren Collingwood, Assistant Professor of Political Science, University of California, Riverside

Building Community Engagement & Accountability: Contesting Criminal Justice Elections & Local Jail Decarceration
Brenda Carter and Pilar Weiss, Reflective Democracy Campaign

Discussant: Chris Henrichson, Vera Institute of Justice