AMERICAN POLITICS & PUBLIC POLICY WORKSHOP
Abstract: This paper identifies a link between descriptive representation and substantive representation on a lower level state court. Increases in the number of judges who are not White men on the Circuit Court of Cook County in Illinois decrease the likelihood of incarceration for defendants in felony cases. As the diversity of Cook County’s circuit court judges increases, the incarceration rate decreases most for those cases with defendants who are not White, although the likelihood of incarceration for cases with non-White defendants remains higher than for cases with White defendants regardless of the level of judicial diversity on the circuit court.
Allison Harris is currently a Visiting Postdoctoral Research Associate in the Department of Politics at Princeton University. Her research is in the subfield of American Politics with a specific interest in judicial politics. Allison’s dissertation research focused on judicial selection methods and judicial characteristics and how these factors relate to the trade-off between judicial independence and accountability. Her current research attempts to identify how improved measures of “diversity” can lead to a better understanding of its effects, specifically in legal settings.