Sandra Smith, Professor

Closed (1) The Forced Removal of Blacks from Napa: A Documentary Film Project

Applications for Spring 2019 are now closed for this project.

In 1956, Denise DelCarlo and a friend had just exited a restaurant in downtown Napa when Denise observed something that instantly became emblazoned on her memory. At the time, the 18-year old had never seen a black person before, but on this day in January she remembers seeing three or four school busloads of black faces, women and their children, driving through town. Soon after she was told that they were driven to the line separating Napa from Sonoma counties and dropped off in Vallejo, the first town in Sonoma County. Their men and sons would travel in cars from Napa to the same location, with furniture and other household belongings in tow.

What Denise believes she saw was Napa’s forced removal of blacks. Now, at 80, Denise wonders if she actually saw what she can’t seem to forget. No one in Napa had ever really spoken about Napa’s black population at all, much less aspects of its forced relocation, and so Denise now fears she made it all up.

This documentary is devoted to solving this mystery. Using traditional research methods, including archival research of historical materials, in-depth interviews of residents from both cities/counties, Census data and administrative records, and other sources, we will attempt to answer the question that has plagued Denise for decades: Were blacks forcibly removed from Napa in the mid-1950s? If so, for what purpose? Why then? And by whom? Further, what does this potential slice of Napa history tell us about race relations in the Valley, in California, in the States, then and now? And how can sociological theories of race and place help us to make sense of the story that we uncover?

Each student who participates will contribute some part to developing the film. They will either conduct research that will help us to solve this mystery, and/or they will assist in the actual production process—filming, editing, etc.

Qualifications: Excellent writing skills; people skills: high emotional IQ, with an ability to connect with others from diverse backgrounds, to listen well and deeply, and to interact with others respectfully; organized, with excellent time management skills; team player; self-motivated and takes initiative; an interest in documentary filmmaking; willingness to engage in various sorts of research methodologies.

Weekly Hours: to be negotiated

Off-Campus Research Site: Although most meetings will be held on campus (Thursdays, 5-7pm), we will take several field trips to Napa and Sonoma counties over the course of the semester.

Closed (2) The Difference a Day Makes: How Pretrial Detention Affects Individuals' Lives in the Short- and Long-Term

Applications for Spring 2019 are now closed for this project.

This project explores the experiences of people who have spent time in jail pre-trial for low-level criminal charges. How do people describe their experiences in jail, and what different forces shape those experiences?

Students will code and analyze completed interviews with people who have spent time in the San Francisco County Jail.

Day-to-day supervisor for this project: Isaac Dalke, Graduate Student

Qualifications: The best-suited students will have a demonstrated attention to detail, strong reading and analysis skills, and an interest in how the U.S. criminal justice system works. You should be organized and possess strong time-management skills.

Weekly Hours: 6-8 hrs

Closed (3) Bargain Justice: A Study of Guilty Pleas in Misdemeanor Criminal Cases

Applications for Spring 2019 are now closed for this project.

This project examines how people navigate the criminal legal system when facing low-level criminal charges.

Most criminal prosecutions look nothing like the high-stakes trials depicted in TV courtroom dramas. The overwhelming majority of criminal cases in the U.S. involve misdemeanors, and in 97% of these low-level cases defendants plead guilty rather than going to trial. How do misdemeanants see their charges? How do they approach their cases in court? And why do so many end up pleading guilty?

This project offers students an opportunity to get training and hands-on experience organizing and analyzing qualitative data, as well as an opportunity to learn more about punishment and the criminal legal system.

Students will be primarily responsible for coding field notes and writing analytic memos. Depending on interest and project needs, you may also help review relevant academic literature and/or conduct direct observations in court.

Day-to-day supervisor for this project: Katherine Hood

Qualifications: Students should be detail-oriented, organized, and have a strong interest in law, punishment, the criminal justice system, and/or qualitative research methods. Students should also be prepared to work as part of a team.

Weekly Hours: to be negotiated