Grant Funded Research

Scott, Jamil S. “Running for Justice? Understanding Black Women Judicial and Prosecutorial Candidates,” Center for American Women and Politics. Total award: $16,400

There is a growing body of literature that points to the impact of judicial decision making and prosecutorial discretion in the increasing gap in criminal justice outcomes for racial minorities in the United States. While scholars have attended to how judges and prosecutors are implicated in the racial disparities in convictions and sentencing, less attention has been paid to who runs and serves in these offices – particularly when these offices are elected positions. Judges and prosecutors are overwhelming white and male. However, the 2018 election brought a great deal of excitement due to a number of Black women being elected to the ranks of judges and prosecutors.  This excitement comes at a time in which the relationship between people of color and the criminal justice system is likely at its most complicated though. More attention is on judicial and prosecutorial decision making because of police violence against Black people in the United States. The proposed project seeks to evaluate why Black women seek elective office for criminal justice positions and how their presence in these roles influences group members’ attitudes about the criminal justice system. I take a multi-method approach to address these questions (using interviews, an experiment and election data). The goal of this multi-method approach is to reveal how Black women think of themselves as candidates for these positions, to understand how the public views Black women when they run, and to capture the contexts in which we are more or less likely to see Black women run for judicial and prosecutorial office.

Scott, Jamil S., Daniel Solomon, and Kelebogile Zvobgo (co-PIs).“Racial Violence and Public Attitudes Towards Justice,” American Political Science Association. Total award: $5000

Is the public’s knowledge of racial violence associated with support for justice? And, what might racial justice look like? Scholarship on violence in comparative politics and international relations demonstrates that personal exposure to violence shapes individual political attitudes, for example, by decreasing political tolerance and decreasing trust in government. But little work studies how knowledge of past violence against a racial minority group influences support for different remedies, such reparations and memorials, for the group. Even less work considers how knowledge of contemporary violence against a racial minority group influences support for remedies. As the United States experiences social and political unrest in the wake of new violence against Black, Indigneous, People of Color – in the midst of a deadly pandemic – it is vital that scholars discern the conditions under which citizens support restitution for past and present harms. To begin addressing this urgent question, we conduct a series of state-level survey experiments across the US on public support for various measures being proposed by elected officials, social leaders, and victims’ families in response to historical and contemporary racial violence. The first of these is a survey on racial-terror lynchings in Maryland, where legislators have created a truth commission on the subject. In addition to the experimental data, we draw on qualitative data from life histories with descendents of lynching victims and interviews with civil society groups and policy makers. 

Scott, Jamil S. and Jack Santucci (co – PIs).“East-coast and National Experimental Tests of Candidate Entry under Single-seat Ranked-choice Voting, with Measurement of Attitudes toward Descriptive Representation,” New America Foundation. Total award: $23,000

Does ranked-choice voting (RCV) encourage more candidate entry? Does it encourage entry among women and people of color? Does the type of representation people want vary with whether politicians “look like” the people they represent? And if people want more “activist” representation, are they more likely to respond to RCV incentives? We study these issues via a survey experiment in Philadelphia — a city that is large, diverse, understudied, and mostly unexposed to RCV advocacy- as well as nationally on a survey that oversamples people of color.