Racial Fortuity, Rights Sacrifice, and the Promise of Convergence in Prison and Policing Policy


Contemplating Professor Bell’s theory of “racial fortuity,” Professor Henderson argues that in criminal justice policy – specifically, incarceration and policing – minorities remain only fortuitous beneficiaries of reform.  Using as examples California’s Assembly Bill 109, which functions to reallocate offender responsibility to the local level in the wake of the Supreme Court’s affirmance of the three-judge panel prison reduction order in Brown v. Plata, and the public campaigns being waged against police misconduct and brutality in the wake of the Occupy Wall Street protests, Henderson argues that, while robust efforts to address racialized harms have been eschewed in favor of policies which stand to further entrench racial disparities and inequality, there remains for advocates a window of opportunity yet to be seized.

Professor Henderson teaches and writes in the areas of prisons, prisoners and ex-offenders, property, and procedure.  She is also a doctoral student in history at New York University, where her dissertation examines the emergence of state carceral institutions in the slaveholding American South.  During the 2005-2006 academic year, Prof. Henderson was the postgraduate Derrick A. Bell Teaching Fellow in Constitutional Law at New York University School of Law.


This paper received a response, posted to the former CJRL website:

That is some inspirational stuff. Never knew that opinions could be this varied. Be positive to maintain writing.

Sacoche Longchamp Rouge October 17, 2014

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