The Political Implications of Crime Control in Latino Neighborhoods
This study examines the political consequences of policing in working-class, Latinx immigrant neighborhoods. As part of this research, I conducted in-depth interviews with over sixty individuals residing in San Diego including activists, students, formerly incarcerated adults, and nonprofit professionals. In addition, through participant observation in two community organizations, I had the opportunity to participate in conversations between policy advocates, community residents, and police administrators and observe first-hand how the concerns of residents are incorporated into policing. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Latinxs continue to report they have negative interactions with local police that make them feel targeted for enforcement based on their ethnicity, perceived “illegality,” and where they live. Grievances and resentment toward local police were rooted in Latinxs’ experiences with police practices including sobriety checkpoints, investigatory stops, and gang enforcement tools (e.g., gang injunctions, gang documentation). Moreover, I find theoretically and empirically consequential variation in the types of institutional interactions Latinxs have with local police and corresponding distinct pathways for their political engagement. For instance, in response to sobriety checkpoints and impound policies individuals and organizations have engaged in long-term political engagement to change these practices. In contrast, less mobilization exists around investigatory stops and gang enforcement tools, despite dissatisfaction with these institutional practices. In providing a rich portrait of the implications of crime control in Latinx neighborhoods, my dissertation highlights individual and collective agency and constraints on political engagement. This study makes several important empirical and methodological contributions to the subfield of American politics. First, through a qualitative approach, I provide a rich, layered view of what policing means for Latinxs living near the border. By going local, I capture the contradictory ways local, state, and federal policy contexts meet and impact the lives of my participants, their families, and communities in which they live. In contrast to extant studies on the carceral state, my work examines how individual level factors, community organizations, and local policies shape political (dis)engagement. Through an examination of these moving pieces, I provide a complicated, in-depth portrayal of political engagement in Latinx communities that cannot be characterized as fully mobilizing or demobilizing. Methodologically, using qualitative methods took my work in unexpected directions, allowed participants in their own words to describe how policing shaped their political lives, and gave me the opportunity to observe police-community interactions.
Michener, JamilaJones-Correa, Michael
Garcia-Rios, Sergio I
Ph. D., Government
Doctor of Philosophy
dissertation or thesis