Junior Carrington Lee is passionate about social justice. This past fall, when she had to choose a research topic in professor Doug Smith’s social policy course, she decided to focus on the racial disparity in incarceration rates in Smith County.
“As an African American woman, this is an important issue for me,” Lee said. “The more light we can shine on this, the quicker we can address the problem.”
Carrington and a group of her classmates gathered statistical information, interviewed key stakeholders such as the police chief and educators who could speak about the school-to-prison pipeline, and examined how the local media portrayed African American versus white offenders in the news.
In addition to an academic paper with their findings, the group produced a policy brief and an easy-to-read, visually attractive toolkit to raise awareness and give Smith County community members concrete steps to take action.
“We even wrote a script on what to say when calling a representative,” Lee said. “We want to show people how they can start tackling this issue, how they can make a difference.”