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Suspect citizens in a democracy [revisited]

37 minutes

Frank Baumgartner

This week marks the beginning of our summer break here on Democracy Works. We are going to be rebroadcasting a few episodes from our back catalog — with a twist.

In fall 2018, we did two episodes on police, criminal justice, and race that are directly relevant to what’s happening today. We caught up with those guests recently to talk about what’s changed in the past two years and how they think about the research in our current moment.

First up is Frank Baumgartner, Robert J. Richardson Distinguished Professor of Political Science at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. He directed the team that analyzed the data published the book Suspect Citizens: What 20 Million Traffic Stops Tell Us About Policing and Race. 

In the book and in our initial conversation, Bamgartner makes the case that an empathy gap exists between people with political and social power and the people who are most likely to be pulled over. The result is that segments of the population who are already disenfranchised become even more distrustful of the police and the government and less likely to vote and otherwise engage with democracy.

During our follow-up conversation in late June 2020, Baumgartner reflected on whether the empathy gap has closed over the past two years and how common-sense police reform can work — even in the midst of a pandemic.

Additional Information

Suspect Citizens: What 20 Million Traffic Stops Tell Us About Policing and Race

Frank’s profile on the Scholars Strategy Network

Related Episodes

The full episode with Frank from October 2018

What Serial taught Sarah Koenig about criminal justice

The clumsy journey to antiracism

More episodes from Democracy Works

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