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John-Paul Anderson (he/him/his)


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I am a doctoral candidate in political science at the University of Washington who researches the criminal justice paradigm and its practices (policing, prosecution, and punishment) in the context of racial, ethnic, and indigenous equity.


Faith in Violence: Race and the Punitive Paradigm addresses a fundamental question in the debate between criminal justice reformers and abolitionists: to what extent can punitive approaches to crime be made racially equitable in the United States? Does a faith in state violence to protect society come at the cost of inclusivity? I argue that a punitive outlook toward crime encourages and facilitates the targeting of stigmatized groups by the state and that less or non-violent alternative paradigms are necessary to overcoming racial inequality. The aim is to contribute a clear articulation of why punitive approaches to crime, specifically, contribute to racial inequality. I begin by demonstrating that racial and ethnic disparities in criminal justice outcomes are far from unique to the United States. Using a novel cross-national data set, I show that punitive systems preside over starkly evident ethnic and racial disproportionality in prisons, even in countries with comparatively progressive penal regimes and low incarceration-rates. That is, even in countries which reformers may look to as criminal justice role models. While factors such as institutional bias and differential offending contribute to these disproportionalities, I hypothesize the influence of a 3rd factor, the punitive approach itself. To clarify why a punitive approach concentrates state violence upon stigmatized groups, I build on Critical Indigenous scholarship to deconstruct the fundamental beliefs that motivate modern policing. I argue that an inherent “us versus them” dichotomy permeates punitive perspectives and can be traced to the earliest justifications for European colonial expansion. I conclude with a consideration of more inclusive and democratic alternatives to the criminal justice paradigm that draw from interviews with restorative justice practitioners. My work engages with and contributes to an interdisciplinary body of scholarship: comparative criminal justice, comparative history of ideas, socio-legal scholarship on race, racial formation theory, and decolonial studies.

I was honored to be nominated for the university wide Excellence in Teaching Award in 2018. My “Crime, Politics, and Justice”, “Ethics in Law and Justice”, and “Drugs in Society” classes have ranked in the top 10% of all University of Washington classes in terms of student satisfaction.

I co-authored "The Hidden Subsidies of Rural Prisons: Race, Space and the Politics of Cumulative Disadvantage", which appears in the journal Punishment and Society (2017).


Courses Taught

University of Washington (2-year avg. Adjusted Combined Median (ACM) Evaluation Score: 4.85)

Excellence in Teaching Award Nominee 2018 (University Wide)

Instructor: Concepts of Power (Political Theory), 2017 (ACM 4.8), 2020 (Summer and Fall)

Instructor: Crime, Politics, and Justice (Sociolegal), 2018, 2019 (ACM: 4.9)

Instructor: Ethics in Law and Justice (Sociolegal), 2018, 2019 (ACM: 4.8/4.9)

Instructor: Drugs in Society (Sociology), 2019 (ACM: 4.9)

Instructor: Transfer Student Interest Group (University Community), 2013

Teaching Assistant: Introduction to American Politics, 2014, 2015

Teaching Assistant: Introduction to Law, Societies, and Justice, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019

Teaching Assistant: Introduction to Political Theory, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2020

Teaching Assistant: Communication and Mass Media, 2015

Teaching Assistant: Drugs in Society, 2014

Teaching Assistant: Crime, Politics, and Justice, 2017

Teaching Assistant: International Courts and Justice, 2013

Teaching Assistant: Women’s Rights as Human Rights, 2016

Teaching Assistant: International Human Rights, 2013


Seattle University

Adjunct Instructor: Power, People, and Society (Political Theory), 2018

Adjunct Instructor: Jazz as Political Theory (Political Theory), 2018


Professional Affiliations: 
Law and Society Association, Washington Institutute for the Study of Inequality and Race (WISER), Comparative Law and Society Studies (CLASS)Center