Jennifer E. Cobbina: Hands Up, Don't Shoot

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Many people are obviously aware that this nation was founded on a system of slavery, but what many people don’t know is that the origins of policing in the United States can be traced to the institution of slavery.
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Jennifer E. Cobbina discusses her book Hands Up, Don’t Shoot: Why the Protests in Ferguson and Baltimore Matter, and How they Changed America with Chris Richardson. Cobbina is an Associate Professor in the School of Criminal Justice at Michigan State University. She received her PhD in criminal justice at the University of Missouri – St. Louis in 2009. Dr. Cobbina’s areas of expertise center on police-community relations, youth violence, and concentrated neighborhood disadvantage, with a special focus on the experiences of minority youth and the impact of race, class, and gender on criminal justice practices.  Her research also focuses on corrections, prisoner reentry and the understanding of recidivism and desistance from crime. Her mixed-methods qualitative and quantitative research predicts recidivism and desistance outcomes and also explores offenders’ perceptions regarding how they manage reentry and integration back into the community. Her scholarship is centered on improving the reentry outcomes of individuals with a felony record and/or has been formerly incarcerated.  Her goal is to produce research that is theoretically informed, empirically rich, and informs criminal justice policy and crime control practices. Dr. Cobbina’s research has been published in a number of academic journals, including Criminology, Justice Quarterly, Crime and Delinquency, Criminal Justice & Behavior, British Journal of Criminology, and Journal of Crime and Justice.


I go back to this book over and over again because of its gripping depictions of police-community relations among Blacks residents in a suburban neighborhood in St. Louis County, Missouri. This is a great book to read for those who want to learn of the lived experiences of Black residents with the police and how the cumulative experiences affect perceptions of police


In his book, Chokehold, Paul Butler does a superb job illuminating how the legal system is broken on purpose and far from “just” for Black men. But he also offers radical long-term solutions regarding the criminal justice system.

Pulled Over: How Police Stops Define Race and Citizenship (Chicago Series in Law and Society)
By Charles R. Epp, Steven Maynard-Moody, Donald P. Haider-Markel

I’ve gotten more interested in how police stops have come not only to be encouraged and institutionalized but how they convey powerful messages about citizenship and racial disparity in the United States. This book offers practical recommendations on how reforms can protect the rights of citizens and still effectively combat crime.


This book does an amazing job highlighting how the legal system can deny basic justice to state actors who kill civilians of color. The book underscores how discrimination, racism and class bias are woven into the fabric of our criminal (in)justice system.


This is a classic ethnography that reveals how urban police criminalize black and Latino boys. This book should be read by anyone who is interested in learning about the difficult lives of young men who face punitive policies in their schools, communities, and a world where they are constantly policed and stigmatized.