Black and Blue: How African Americans Judge the U.S. Legal System by James L. Gibson and Michael NelsonABSTRACT
It is not hyperbole to proclaim that a crisis of legal legitimacy exists in the relationships between African Americans and the law and legal authorities and institutions that govern them. However, this legitimacy deficit has largely (but not exclusively) been documented through anecdotal evidence and a steady drumbeat of journalistic reports, but not rigorous scientific research. We posit that both experiences and in-group identities are commanding because they influence the ways in which black people process information, and in particular, the ways in which blacks react to the symbols of legal authority (e.g., judges’ robes). Based on two nationally-representative samples, this book ties together four dominant theories of public opinion: Legitimacy Theory, Social Identity Theory, theories of adulthood political socialization and learning through experience, and information processing theories, especially the Theory of Motivated Reasoning and theories of System 1 and System 2 information processing. Our findings reveal a gaping chasm in legal legitimacy between black and white Americans. More importantly, black people themselves differ in their legal legitimacy. Group identities and experiences with legal authorities play a crucial role in shaping whether and how black people extend legitimacy to the legal institutions that so much affect them.
How ‘the incarceration capital of America’ embraced criminal justice reformFor decades, the state of Louisiana has been known as the incarceration capital of America. But over the past year, the state has been trying to shed that reputation with new reforms that decrease the prison population and save money. William Brangham went to find how it's playing out for former prisoners, in a story produced by Frank Carlson in partnership with the Pulitzer Center.