Soc 320 Research Opportunity, Fall 2020: Compiling Case Histories from Jail and Court Records

Term: Fall 2020 (Soc 320, Section 135)
Status: Open
Contact: Please contact Prof Pamela Oliver if interested. It is available for 1-3 credits.
Description: This project is in collaboration with Dane County community activists who are concerned about who is in the jail and people’s criminal histories that send them in and out of the jail. In particular, although the names of everyone in jail on a given day is on the Internet, and activists have been collecting those names since 2019 and know who has been in jail on a given date, less is known about the people who never go to jail or who cycle in and out of jail on probation revocations. This information can be extracted from online court records, but the process involves reading and understanding each record one at a time.
Duties: Students will work with Prof Oliver and local activists to understand how to read the court records. They will be given names of people to research in the records and will summarize their cases in an organized way. They will learn a great deal about some of the complex workings of the criminal justice system. All the meetings and the work will be done virtually. Students will be expected to keep a log of their time worked and to be available for meetings with others working on the project.