Race, Incarceration, and American Values
The United States, home to five percent of the world's population, now houses twenty-five percent of the world's prison inmates. Our incarceration rate -- at 714 per 100,000 residents and rising -- is almost forty percent greater than our nearest competitors (the Bahamas, Belarus, and Russia). More pointedly, it is 6.2 times the Canadian rate and 12.3 times the rate in Japan. Economist Glenn Loury argues that this extraordinary mass incarceration is not a response to rising crime rates or a proud success of social policy. Instead, it is the product of a generation-old collective decision to become a more punitive society. He connects this policy to our history of racial oppression, showing that the punitive turn in American politics and culture emerged in the post-civil rights years and has today become the main vehicle for the reproduction of racial hierarchies. Whatever the explanation, Loury argues, the uncontroversial fact is that changes in our criminal justice system since the 1970s have created a nether class of Americans -- vastly disproportionately black and brown -- with severely restricted rights and life chances. Moreover, conservatives and liberals agree that the growth in our prison population has long passed the point of diminishing returns. Stigmatizing and confining of a large segment of our population should be unacceptable to Americans. Loury's call to action makes all of us now responsible for ensuring that the policy changes.
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and American Values
Pamela S Karlan
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African African-Americans apartheid argues arrest Black Belt carceral choices citizens civil rights communities completed their sentences Constitution convicted Court crime rates fell criminal justice system dark ghetto disen disenfran disproportionate draconian economic electoral enforcement enfranchisement equal citizenship ethno-racial ex-offenders federal felon disenfranchisement Fifteenth Amendment Florida Fordist ghetto poor high school history of racial human hyperghetto incarceration rate individual Inequality inmates institutions ishment jail Jim Crow Karlan Kenneth Clark Loury lower-class mass incarceration ment metropolis middle-class million moral neighborhoods nether caste nonideal theory nonviolent offenders penal reform percent personal responsibility political prison admissions prison boom prison population probation or parole problem punishment punitive turn question race race issue racial disparity racial history racial injustice racism Rehnquist right to vote sentencing laws shift social policy socioeconomic sociologist strategy super predator theory of justice three-strikes laws tion Tommie Shelby United urban veil of ignorance voting rights Wal-Mart welfare