LAW & SOCIETY REVIEW
VOLUME 56 | NUMBER 3
Victim, perpetrator, neither: Attitudes on deservingness and culpability in immigration law
Jamie Rowen, Scott Blinder, Rebecca Hamlin
This study examines whether there is popular support for a restrictive immigration policy aimed at denying safe haven to human rights abusers and those affiliated with terrorism. We designed a public opinion survey experiment that asks respondents to evaluate whether low level or high-level Taliban members who otherwise qualify for refugee status deserve immigration benefits. We found that a majority of respondents did not immediately deny a visa to low-level worker. Looking at respondents’ explanations for their decision, we find two distinct clusters of reasons that we classify as either circumstantial–focused on the particularities of the case–or categorical–focused on general attributes of the applicant. We suggest that domestic and international criminal law logics about acts and intentions, as well as roles and responsibilities, are reflected in beliefs about deservingness in this distinct immigration context, and may support more generous attitudes toward those seeking refugee status. Many respondents using circumstantial reasoning saw a distinction between the jobs potential immigrants have done in their pasts and what they actually believe, underscoring the fraught dynamics of armed conflict in which people may be swept up in violence they do not support.
Relational legal consciousness and anticorruption: Lava Jato, social media interactions, and the co-production of law’s detraction in Brazil (2017–2019)
Fabio de Sa e Silva
Starting in 2014, Brazilian politics was shaken up by the lava jato (LJ) operation, a law-centered anticorruption initiative. LJ unveiled a large corruption scheme in Brazil’s national oil company Petrobras, which involved Petrobras directors, political party officials, and large construction companies. LJ was both disruptive and contentious. To some, it started a new chapter in Brazilian history, marked by greater respect for the “rule of law” and a collective “state of mind” concerned with “ending impunity” and building integrity in politics and businesses. To others, it contributed to undermining democracy and the rule of law, paving the way for an autocratic leader—the current Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro. This article sheds further light on those discussions by looking at LJ as a site of “legal consciousness” production. Empirically, the article focuses on conversations generated by lead LJ prosecutors on a major social media platform (Facebook) from 2017 to 2019. Considering this body of data, the article addresses the question: “When prosecutors and ‘the people’ talked about LJ, what did they talk about?” My findings support the more skeptical views of the operation. The exchanges between LJ prosecutors and their Facebook followers supported the co-production of a cultural schema averse to the “rule of law.” These findings have implications for both legal consciousness and anticorruption research.
Immigration detention as a routine police measure: Discretionary powers in preemptive detention of noncitizens in Finland
This article discusses how administrative practices shape immigration detention policies, addressing both administrative discretion in detention orders and their judicial supervision. Due to vaguely formulated legal criteria and ineffective ex-post judicial supervision, the authorities have considerable discretionary powers in ordering detentions for noncompliant and criminalized noncitizens. Instead of being a measure of last resort, immigration detention is used in a routine manner, with little individual assessment, for the enforcement of removals and the prevention of irregular migration, as well as extensively for crime prevention. The findings demonstrate the role of the police as the main actor in the detention system in Finland, with significant implications for the formation of detention policies.
Procedural justice for all? Legitimacy, just culture and legal anxiety in European civil aviation
This article presents the results of survey-based research which explores if licensed aircraft maintenance engineers working in Norway, Sweden, and Portugal experience regulated “just culture” as procedural justice-infused processes when occurrence reporting in European Union (EU) civil aviation. Drawing on Tylerian procedural justice theory, the study finds that, perceived procedural justice is more strongly associated with legitimacy (perceived as support for rules and authority) than legal anxiety among the maintenance engineers. Country-based results reveal differences in engineers’ legal experiences of occurrence reporting with perceived procedural justice strongest in Sweden and legal anxiety most influential in Portugal. The article contributes with a first exploration of “just culture” as a procedural justice-infused legal intervention to improve compliance to regulated occurrence reporting by negating legal anxiety in a European aviation context.
The diversity officer: Police officers’ and black women civilians’ epistemologies of race and racism in policing
Shannon Malone Gonzalez, Samantha J. Simon, Katie Kaufman Rogers
Diversifying police forces has been suggested to improve “police-minority relations” amidst national uprisings against police violence. Yet, little research investigates how police and black civilians—two groups invoked in discourse on “police-minority relations”—understand the function of diversity interventions. We draw on 100 in-depth interviews with 60 black women civilians and 40 police from various racial and ethnic backgrounds to explore how they understand the function of racial diversity in policing. Findings highlight discrepancies in how these two groups frame the utility of racial diversity in policing, revealing conflicting epistemologies of race and racism. Police draw on an epistemology of racial ignorance (Mills 1997, 2007, 2015) to selectively accommodate race-conscious critique while denying the history and power dynamics between the institution and minority communities. Conversely, black women civilians, grounded in a standpoint epistemology (Collins, 1986, 2009), emphasize the historical roots of policing, along with collective memories, and lived experiences to understand the relationship between the institution and minority communities. Through a comparative analysis of these frames, we theorize dominant/state-sponsored discourse on diversity and police-minority relations as form of racecraft (Fields & Fields 2012, 2014) that serves to legitimize negligible institutional change to policing in an era of renewed scrutiny of police racism.
Racial equity in eligibility for a clean slate under automatic criminal record relief laws
Alyssa C. Mooney, Alissa Skog, Amy E. Lerman
States have begun to pass legislation to provide automatic relief for eligible criminal records, potentially reducing the lifelong collateral consequences of criminal justice involvement. Yet numerous historical examples suggest that racially neutral policies can have profoundly disparate effects across racial groups. In the case of criminal record relief, racial equity in eligibility for a clean slate has not yet been examined. We find that in California, one in five people with convictions met criteria for full conviction relief under the state’s automatic relief laws. Yet the share of Black Americans eligible for relief was lower than White Americans, reproducing racial disparities in criminal records. We identify two policy amendments that would reduce the share of Black men in California with convictions on their criminal records from 22% to 9%, thereby narrowing the difference compared to White men from 15 to seven percentage points. Put another way, an additional one in seven Black men currently has a conviction record, compared to their White counterparts. This would decline to an additional one in 14 if both hypothetical policy amendments were incorporated. We close with discussion of criminal history data quality limitations, which pose a second key challenge to equitable implementation of automatic criminal record relief reforms nationwide.
How to not have to know: Legal technicalities and flagrant criminal offenses in Santiago, Chile
Drawing on ethnographic data gathered in lower criminal courts and in one unit of the Public Prosecutor’s Office in Santiago, Chile, I explore the way in which criminal offenses considered flagrant are treated by the Chilean criminal justice system. Citing the literature on legal technicalities, I describe how flagrant criminal offenses are constructed through practices that make it possible for the actors involved to avoid directly referring to the alleged facts. From their identification on the streets by police officers to their reassignment to a different unit of the Public Prosecutor’s Office or their adjudication at a criminal court, flagrant criminal offenses are defined by a specific way of approaching the alleged facts, which is translated into specific organizational and documentary practices. The role of these practices contrasts with the apparently marginal role that the detention in flagrante delicto plays in the mechanics of criminal law. As a technicality, the flagrant character of a criminal offense conveys certain epistemological assumptions about how to determine what happened and what exactly constitutes the criminal offense. More specifically, it conveys assumptions about what cannot, for the moment, be known and that can, therefore, be ignored throughout the bureaucratic and judicial process.
Shari’a, Inshallah: Finding god in Somali legal politics. By Massoud, Mark F.. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2021. 250 pp. $34.99 paperback
Against progress: Intellectual property and fundamental values in the internet age. By Silbey, Jessica. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2022. 448 pages, $90.00 hardcover/$30.00 paperback.