CCRSE Research Institute seminar: Crook County: Racism and Injustice in America’s Largest Criminal Court

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Black Community Services Center, Brandon Room


Please join us in welcoming Nicole Gonzalez Van Cleve, Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice at Temple University, in a lunchtime presentation on her new book, Crook County: Racism and Injustice in America’s Largest Criminal Court.


Americans are waking up to the dire effects of racial profiling, police brutality, and mass incarceration, especially in disadvantaged neighborhoods and communities of color. The criminal courts are the crucial gateway between police action on the street and the processing of primarily black and Latino defendants into jails and prisons. And yet the courts, often portrayed as impartial institutions, have remained shrouded in secrecy. Nicole Gonzalez Van Cleve spent ten years working in and investigating the largest criminal courthouse in the country, Chicago-Cook County, and based on over 1,000 hours of observation, she takes readers inside our so-called halls of justice to witness the types of everyday racial abuses that fester within the courts, often in plain sight. Ultimately, she reveals the courts a crucial gateway for the racialization of criminal justice – where racism and discretion collide with dire effects to both the experience and appearance of justice.


Nicole Gonzalez Van Cleve is an Assistant Professor at Temple University in the Department of Criminal Justice with courtesy appointments in the Department of Sociology and the Beasley School of Law. She received her M.A. and Ph.D. in Sociology from Northwestern University where she was a Legal Studies Fellow. She is the recipient of the 2014-2015 Ford Foundation Fellowship Postdoctoral Award and the 2015 New Scholar Award (co-winner) awarded by American Society of Criminology’s Division on People of Color and Crime. She is also an affiliated scholar with the American Bar Foundation. Her book, Crook County: Racism and Injustice in America’s Largest Criminal Court, and her legal commentary has been featured on NBC News, MSNBC’s The Rachel Maddow Show and CNN. Her recent op-ed in the New York Times entitled, “Chicago’s Racist Cops and Racist Courts,” shows the complicity of the criminal courts in the racist culture of policing in Chicago.


Co-sponsored by the Center for Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity (CCSRE) and Stanford Criminal Justice Center (SCJC)



Stanford Criminal Justice Center (SCJC)