College of Liberal Arts

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John Kappelman

Sarah Brayne, an assistant professor of sociology, examines the use of "big data" within the criminal justice system. In her most recent work, she analyzed the use of predictive analytics and new surveillance technologies in a large urban police department.

With access to more personal data than ever before, police have the power to solve crimes more quickly; but in practice, the influx of information tends to amplify existing practices, Brayne says. Beyond documenting and understanding the rapidly changing big data landscape, Brayne’s work addresses the question of whether our political and social systems and regulations can keep up.

 “On one hand, I think it has the potential to reduce some problematic inequities in policing, such as the un-particularized suspicion of racial minorities,” says Brayne, who conducts research in the university’s Population Research Center. “But I think as it’s currently implemented, there can be a few negative consequences for equality, and it can lead to a lot more marginalization and distrust.” 

 Brayne's research appeared in the American Sociological Review and was supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council and the Horowitz Foundation for Social Policy. This year, she will serve as an expert discussant at the American Association for the Advancement of Sciences annual meeting, informing the conversation on policing drug-use and gang violence.

Learn more about Brayne’s big data research in “Smile, You’re on Camera: Behind the Lens of 24/7 Surveillance” in Life & Letters.

Top photo: Sarah Brayne. Photo credit: Bryan Schutmaat

The College of Liberal Arts has more than 500 faculty members who are rigorous teachers and creative researchers who advance knowledge in the humanities and social sciences while preparing the next generation of thoughtful citizens and leaders. To learn more about our faculty, please visit the departmental directories listed below:

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