Tip Sheets

KBJ’s response to questions on crime, violence ‘monumental’

Media Contact

Rachel Rhodes

The Supreme Court confirmation hearing for Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson began this week, with some senators questioning the strength of her past record on crime – particularly sex trafficking cases.

Sadé Lindsay

Assistant Research Professor

Sadé Lindsay is a researcher and sociologist in Cornell University’s Jeb E. Brooks School of Public Policy. Her work focuses on the intersection of criminal justice, punishment, racial inequality, and public policy.

Lindsay says:

“As a Black woman who grew up in Washington, D.C. during the height of mass incarceration, in addition to her many years of public service, Judge Jackson knows that we’ve been down this road before and that the implications of her response are monumental. She’s able to eloquently weave her experiences into a cohesive narrative that doesn’t fall into the intended trap of adopting punitive ideologies to prove she that is indeed ‘tough on crime.’

“We’re at another pivotal historical point of instability – spikes in homicides and gun violence, criminal justice reform efforts and racial justice protests, and a pandemic. Judge Jackson has been very careful to not totally dismiss the claims of her being ‘soft on crime.’ However, she has also ensured that she does not perpetuate harmful ideologies and does so by drawing on her personal experiences of having family members who have been in prison and others who are police officers.

“These counternarratives allow her to address the claims and present herself as more impartial than conservative congressmembers want to acknowledge, while also highlighting the real complexities of the U.S. criminal legal system and decision-making.”

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