Felony Criminal Justice System

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Arizona State University

This intent of this article is to examine the negative socioeconomic and political effects on African American men after they have a felony criminal record. I will also examine the level of equality that exists between White men and Black men in respect to their socioeconomic and political standing after they have a felony criminal record. Many sociologists, criminologists and social commentators (Pettit and Western 2004; Muller and Schrage 2014; Smith and Hattery 2010; Pager 2003; Pager 2011) have written about the effects of the Prison Industrial complex on
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While race has undoubtedly played a central role in shaping the employment opportunities of African Americans over the past century, recent arguments have questioned the continuing significance of race, arguing instead that other factors—such as spatial location, soft skills, social capital, or cognitive ability—can explain most or all of the contemporary racial differentials we observe (Pager 2003). The problem with discounting the significance of race is that all other things being equal (criminal record included) Black men do not fare as well as their White counterparts in the job market. The marginalization of African American men in the arena of employment remains problematic. Gaps on key economic indicators such as employment, occupational prestige, income, and job mobility persist some forty years after the passage of the Civil Rights Act (Mong and Roscigno 2009). Black men are about six times more likely than whites to be sent to prison and are likewise overrepresented among released prisoners (Bureau of Justice Statistics 2004). Some evidence suggests that blacks may also pay a higher penalty for having a criminal record relative to otherwise similar whites (Pager, Western and Sugie…show more content…
The “negative credential” associated with a criminal record represents a unique mechanism of stratification, in that it is the state that certifies particular individuals in ways that qualify them for discrimination or social exclusion It is this official status of the negative credential that differentiates it from other sources of social stigma, offering greater legitimacy to its use as the basis for differentiation (Pager 2003). This “negative credential” effectively puts African American felons on the bottom rung of the socioeconomic ladder. As most readers are well aware, felons are automatically disenfranchised. They can’t vote. In many states they can be re enfranchised but the process can be cumbersome and few ex-convicts are aware of the requirements. (Smith and Hattery 2010) In communities where a significant portion of the men cannot vote, the community as a whole losses its ability to effectively elect adequate representation in local, state, and federal elections. Research has shown that as much as 10% of the population in some minority communities in the United States are unable to vote as a result of felony disenfranchisement (Bowers and Preuhs 2009). Another political consequence of a felony conviction is that an individual loses their ability to run for and hold a public
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