Published: Edited Volume by Weaver, Hacker and Wildeman on Criminal Justice & American Civil Life

The January 2014 volume of the The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, titled "Detaining Democracy? Criminal Justice and American Civic Life," edited by Christopher Wildeman, Jacob S. Hacker and Vesla M. Weaver has been published online.

The introduction to the volume, also titled, "Detaining Democracy? Criminal Justice and American Civic Life," was written by Weaver, Hacker and Wildeman.


We live in the midst of what may be the most visible and transformative government intervention since the 1960s. The number of prisoners has multiplied fivefold in just 35 years. At the same time, other types of criminal justice contact—from the use of misdemeanor charges (Natapoff 2012) to stop-and-frisks (to brief detentions based on reasonable suspicion of criminal activity rather than probable cause)—have dramatically increased as well (Fagan et al. 2010). In the words of historian William Novak, “The power of the U.S. government to regulate, study, order, discipline, and punish its citizens . . . has never been greater” (2008, 760).

This power has not been felt equally by all Americans. For most, it is virtually invisible. For men of color—especially those who reside in the poorest neighborhoods—and for the people close to them, it is the most sustained and consequential interaction with government that they experience, and among the most pervasive features of their social lives.

In short, criminal justice has become a key way that citizens and communities interact with their state. And yet we know strikingly little about its political and civic consequences. In this volume, a set of distinguished scholars from many disciplines considers these effects.


Additional articles by ISPS affiliates and co-authors:

Chris Wildeman, "Parental Incarceration, Child Homelessness, and the Invisible Consequences of Mass Imprisonment."

Benjamin Justice and Tracey L. Meares, "How the Criminal Justice System Educates Citizens."

Amy E. Lerman and Vesla Weaver, "Staying out of Sight? Concentrated Policing and Local Political Action."






Area of study 
Criminal Justice