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Evelyn J. Patterson

Associate Professor of Sociology
Associate Professor of Law
Affiliated Faculty, Centers for Medicine, Health and Society for the Study of Democratic Institutions
Health Policy Associate, Center for Health Policy at Meharry Medical College

Evelyn Patterson studies how the U.S. judicial system creates and perpetuates inequality. Drawing on her training in sociology, demography, and criminology, she studies the intergenerational transfer of inequality in America with a particular focus on organizations and institutions. Most of her work to date examines the role of the U.S. judicial system in creating and perpetuating inequality. Interaction with the judicial system disproportionately impacts marginalized populations by limiting their social mobility, blocking their economic opportunities, ensuring poor health outcomes, and minimizing their opportunities to escape the self-sustaining system of inequality embedded in America’s social structure. Specifically, her work situates the consequences of the use of incarceration in an array of social processes, interrogating how incarceration as a social institution reconfigures and mutates other primary social institutions such as education, kinship, and law.