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Racial Neutrality by Any Other Name: An Examination of Collateral Consequence Policies in the United States


  • Natasha V. Christie

    Corresponding author
    1. University of North Florida
    • Direct correspondence to Natasha V. Christie, Department of Political Science & Public Administration, University of North Florida, Jacksonville, FL 32224 〈〉.

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  • Upon request, the author will share all data and coding for replication purposes. The author acknowledges the research assistance of Kimberlee Johnson. The author also acknowledges the data contributions of Garrick Percival. The author would like to thank the anonymous reviewers and the SSQ editors for their careful review and constructive critiques of this work.



This study highlights the complex role that race plays in the restrictiveness of felon collateral consequence policies in the 50 states by introducing the combination of symbolic racism and racial threat as integral dimensions of the traditional race-based arguments made in this policy area.


Using Alec Ewald's felon collateral consequence scores for the 50 states as the dependent variable and symbolic racism and racial threat variables as the major independent variables, an ordinary least squares (OLS) regression model estimated the effects of race-based, ideological, political, and demographic independent variables on a state's felon collateral consequence score.


The combination of symbolic racism and racial threat add an additional dimension to the traditional race-policy connection within this policy area. Specifically, states with high levels of racial threat and symbolic racism were more likely to have higher felon collateral consequence scores. Yet, the presence of a state with a high level of black representatives in its state's legislature negated the effect of these variables.


Although similar studies have confirmed that racially neutral policies, such as felon collateral consequence policies, are affected by race, they have limited their discussion to one specific dimension—racial threat. The evidence presented in this study provided support for the inclusion of a multidimensional race-based argument in this policy area.

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