Digital vulnerability: The unequal risk of e-contact with the criminal justice system

Robert Vargas, Kayla Preito-HodGe, Jeremy Christofferson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Increased citizen interaction with the criminal justice system on digital platforms renders citizens more vulnerable to breaches of information to third parties. We introduce the concept of digital vulnerability to measure the extent to which technology produces unequal exposure to risk of data breaches. Using police-dispatcher radio communication, we examine the extent to which dispatchers reveal identifiable information about callers reporting crime. Data come from sixty audio-recorded hours of police-dispatcher radio communication across three racially distinct police radio zones in Chicago. Findings revealed that one of every ten calls made to police in zones serving racial minorities disclosed caller names or home addresses. We discuss implications for research on racial inequality in criminal justice contact, police-community relations, and policies concerning police-dispatcher radio communication.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)71-88
Number of pages18
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2019
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


  • 911 emergency service
  • Criminal justice contact
  • Policing
  • Race
  • Technology


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