International Journal on Responsibility


Issuing citations in lieu of arrests, or field booking arrests, is touted as beneficial by reducing the costs for the criminal legal system; reducing the burdens placed on individuals by avoiding arrest records, possible pretrial detention, and financial obligations; bettering community relationships with officers; increasing officer safety and efficiency; and reducing jail overcrowding. Yet, there are still substantial concerns that the practice may be disproportionately utilized and lead to net-widening. Using data obtained from a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, we assess a snapshot of field booking arrests in a Southeastern city. Specifically, we assess if there are racial and gender disparities in who is being arrested as well as the severity of the charges. We also assess where these arrests are occurring to see if certain areas and neighborhoods are disproportionately targeted. We find most field booking arrests are given to Black men. Evidence also suggests they are largely being utilized with marginalized populations, particularly the unhoused and in communities of Color. Through this assessment we gain some insight into who is bearing the burden of field booking arrests and their potential collateral consequences. Suggestions for further research and how police may consider more equitable procedures are discussed.

Type of Issue

Special issue





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