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Miami Racial and Ethnic Justice Project

Along with Nick Petersen and ​our research team, we investigate racial and ethnic disparities in Miami Dade County's criminal legal system. Tracking all adults arrested in Miami-Dade County from 2010-2015, we authored the Unequal Treatment report for the ACLU of Florida, finding disparities throughout the system (in arrest, pretrial detention, charging and conviction, and sentencing) both at the individual and neighborhood levels.

We have papers looking at how racial inequalities in prosecution and sentencing become institutionalized through "race-neutral" case factors, and how bail and pretrial detention are stratification mechanisms for subsequent case outcomes. We have also examined racial inequalities in case processing for low-level crimes, as well as spatial contingencies of nuisance crime prosecutions, finding racialized patterns of enforcement across neighborhoods. 

With Yader Lanuza, we are examining colorism in punishment outcomes for Hispanic people.

Context of drug enforcement and prosecution in federal and state courts

I also examine how neighborhood and other place-based contexts matter for institutionalizing racial inequalities in drug crimes. I've analyzed how spatial patterns of prosecution and sentencing drive racial inequalities in drug crimes in one California county, and investigated how racial inequalities in drug cases develop over prosecution and sentencing through early discretionary stages and indirect pathways in state courts. Along with Mona Lynch, we focus on meso-level organizational change in drug cases in federal courts, including how racial inequalities in crack enforcement are institutionalized in federal courts, and how legal norms become entrenched in places over time.


With Rachel Lautenschlager, I have also investigated how neighborhoods matter for police use-of-force in communities of color. This paper builds on prior work examining how police drug enforcement reflects racialized conceptions of neighborhoods

Intersection of punishment, treatment, and other systems

In this emerging area of research, I consider how punishment intersects with treatment and other systems.  Along with Rachel Lautenschlager and Jacqueline Lee, I am working on a project exploring how court actors in a problem-solving court balance punitive and rehabilitative aims and practices. I have also done some work with the COVID Prison Project, which tracks COVID-19 in prison systems.

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