American Sociological Association

Sociology in Action: Pamela Oliver

Pamela Oliver, University of Wisconsin-Madison, worked with the Wisconsin Governor's Commission to Reduce Racial Disparities in multi-city locations in Wisconsin. She also partnered with the Dane County Task Force on Racial Disparities in Madison. ASA asked Oliver about her work with these organizations:

I was appointed a commissioner of the Wisconsin Governor's Commission, which was initiated to make recommendations to reduce racial disparities in criminal justice in the state. In 2007-08, with the Commission, I attended a lot of meetings, held hearings, listened to presentations, did special data analysis, wrote a report to give recommendations for reducing racial disparities, and helped draft the final report.

For the Dane County Task Force on Racial Disparities, which I was appointed to and served as a member of for one year. I generated recommendations for local implementation of Commission proposals for reducing racial disparities in criminal justice. In addition to attending meetings and hearings, I wrote a report and provided statistical analyses of several different special data collections. I also contributed general sociological discussion in the deliberations.

I provided special quantitative analyses of criminal justice data for both the Commission and Task Force. As a full member of each, I participated in all discussions and debates and often brought a general sociological perspective to the deliberations. With the Task Force, my work included attending to the racial and power dynamics among different members of the task force.