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September 27, 2023 @ 12:00 am - 1:30 am CDT

Speaker Series: 2023-24 Doctoral Fellows

Reyna Hernandez, Brandon Honoré, Portia Xiong
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Hybrid: Virtual/In-Person (ABF Offices, 750 N Lake Shore Drive, 4th Floor Chicago, IL)

To register, contact Sophie Kofman at skofman@abfn.org

Reyna Hernandez: Bureaucracies of Innocence: Reentry and Remedy After Wrongful Conviction

The extant literature on life after wrongful conviction is foundational to examining how exonerees experience reentry. This scholarship primarily focuses on the social and psychological challenges exonerees face after wrongful incarceration, including prolonged trauma and stigma, and how they affect exonerees’ reentry processes. While offering essential insights into the effects of wrongful conviction and incarceration on exonerees’ personal lives, this work only scratches the surface of exploring how criminal legal contact shapes exonerees’ everyday lives. As in life after incarceration for “rightfully” convicted people, wrongfully convicted and exonerated individuals must interact with and incorporate themselves into institutions and organizations that become crucial to accessing the tangible and intangible resources and services they need through their transitions into the outside world. Moreover, while law and policy are continually embedded into exonerees’ daily lives within and outside of these institutional and organizational contexts, research on these relational dynamics is lacking. Reyna Hernandez’s research utilizes participant observation and in-depth interviews with exonerees, innocence lawyers, and innocence organization staff; content analysis; and visual methods (photo-elicitation) to triangulate exonerees’ experiences and organizational perspectives on facilitating and accessing exonerees’ post-incarceration needs. These include the legal and extralegal processes and mechanisms these actors might activate to advance remedies to wrongful conviction. Ultimately, this work seeks to offer ways to improve and reimagine how best to compensate the wrongfully convicted by examining the bureaucracies that directly affect how exonerees access and receive reparations after wrongful incarceration, further illustrating how entanglement with U.S. carceral institutions perpetually affect innocent people.


Brandon Honoré: Land Use Regulations and the Racial Inequality of Institutionalized Trustworthiness  

Brandon Honoré examines the socio-legal construction of racial wealth inequality by investigating the relationship between land use regulations and institutionalized indicators of trustworthiness. He hypothesizes that exclusionary zoning not only contributes to segregation, but also racial wealth inequality, by asymmetrically distributing risks across racial groups. The asymmetric distribution of risks—both environmental hazards and the hazards of social exclusion—consequently contribute to institutionalized wealth inequality. Honoré combines data from the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act, Toxics Release Inventory, American Community Survey, and Chicago Metropolitan Area for Planning Land Use Survey to build models of the Chicago region. By examining a single metropolis, he will track interdependencies among communities both within the urban core and across the suburban periphery as risk and institutional credibility are (re)allocated across spaces over time.


Portia Xiong: Admitted but not Advanced: Diversity, Minor Feelings and Asian and Asian American Law Students in the United States

This ethnographic project looks at why anti-Asian biases, prejudices, discriminations, and violence still persist in legal education while Asian and Asian American presence is rapidly increasing by investigating three interconnected questions. First, how does race impact Asian and Asian American law students’ everyday lives in white institutional spaces? It will compare and contrast the intergroup and intragroup dynamics of the Asian group and the Asian American group to explore how citizenship status stratifies their racialized law school experiences. Special attention will be paid to their experiences of racial biases, prejudices, and discriminations. Second, how does racial identity intersect with other identities such as gender, class, sexual orientation, religion, and country of origin in each group? It will pay attention to how the Asian group and the Asian American group socialize with people from different racial backgrounds as an effort to refute the stereotype that Asians and Asian Americans are monolithic groups. For instance, who do they make friends with at law schools? Who do they include in their study groups and recreational activities? Thirdly, how do they respond, resist, or relate to marginalization and exclusion emotionally and cognitively in white institutional spaces like law schools? It will focus on their emotional labor and cognitive labor in dealing with racial oppression by documenting what Cathy Park Hong calls “minor feelings”: the emotions felt by marginalized minority groups in a predominantly white space, feelings that are both ignored and considered excessive.