Overall, the United States prison system and society’s view of African Americans needs to change. People need to make sure that the mistakes society has made in the past do not repeat themselves. In order to fix many of the existing problems it is important to focus on reforming the prison system. Doing so would prevent many future cases of injustice and racial
The United States accounts for 5% of the world population, but our prison population makes up 25% of the world’s (Nagin, 2014). African Americans account for the largest percent of our prison population because they have the highest incarceration rate compared to other races. This essay will argue that African Americans are incarcerated at a higher rate than Caucasians. Proven by statistical data, there are grounds to establish that the racial disparity in incarceration rates is a social problem. To address this social problem, public policy should be implemented by the Federal Government.
The vast societal effects from mass incarceration have caused an increasingly alienated population to form in the U.S., which can be broadly classified in the dual areas of lasting effects and impacts to the family unit. First, the lasting effects of high incarceration rates are that they impact the rights of the convict, particularly African Americans. For example, noted civil rights attorney Michelle Alexander posits that the long term effects of mass incarceration operate to deny black Americans the future right to volte, the ability to obtain public benefits, the possibility to sit on juries, and ultimately the opportunity to secure gainful employment (Steiker, 2011), Moreover, professor Alexander argues that this mass incarceration together with the prior Jim Crow laws and the past practice of slaery in the U.S. operate to ensure that black Americans remain s subordinate class of citizens defined primarily by their race (Steiker, 2011).
The third critical book review for this class takes a look at “The New Jim Crow” by Michelle Alexander published in 2012 by the New York Press. This book analyzes the problem with the incarceration system in the United States today that unfairly affects the African American community. This incarceration system is continuing to separate families, strip men of their freedom, and effectually make them into second class citizens upon release from prison as “free” men. She even describes that those who are convicted of these crimes are “relegated to a racially segregated and subordinated existence” (Pg. 4). Michelle Alexander is not only a published author but is also an active Civil Rights activist all while currently employed as an associate professor of law at Ohio State University. It is a very interesting read that coincides with where our class discussions have recently been. It argues that we as a country have not ended racial discrimination but just transformed it into a new type of caste system. It is an eye opening book that created an uncomfortable feeling while reading due to my level of ignorance on this topic prior to taking this class. I believe that this book will serve as an important narrative into fixing the race problems in this country because it brings to light what needs to be fixed. If any progress is made it will be because of books like this that expose the problems but starting to fix them will be the next step.
Racism in the United States has not remained the same over time since its creation. Racism has shifted, changed, and shaped into unrecognizable ways that fit into the fabric of the American society to render it nearly invisible to the majority of Americans. Michelle Alexander, in her book, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness shatters this dominantly held belief. The New Jim Crow makes a reader profoundly question whether the high rates of incarceration in the United States is an attempt to maintain blacks as an underclass. Michelle Alexander makes the assertion that “[w]e have not ended racial caste in America; we have merely redesigned it” using the criminal justice system and colorblind rhetoric. (Alexander 2). The result is a population of Black and Latino men who face barriers and deprivation of rights as did Blacks during the Jim Crow era. Therefore, mass incarceration has become the new Jim Crow.
In today’s society, discrimination is an issue that is considered to be a thing of the past. In a country with such diversity it is hard to believe that people living in the “land of the free” face issues of racism. This paper will focus specifically on the social problem of mass incarceration of minority groups and how the criminal justice system targets these groups. Although this social problem can be linked to specifically African Americans, the impacts of mass incarceration can be felt by almost everyone. I have chosen three articles that focus on how the criminal justice system is masking mass imprisonment a major problem in minority communities.
Underachievement, lack of inclusion, and backward progression within society is a trend that engulfs African American men constantly in the American society. There is a continuous struggle to break the persistent mold. Although many feel that the United States has overcome its racist history, the legacies of slavery and racism still affect our policies and practices today. Of the nearly 2.1 million adult men and women imprisoned in the United States, roughly 70% are persons of color (Minton, 2012). Within the criminal justice system, people of color are imprisoned disproportionately due to racist laws, are denied access to the rehabilitative options given to Whites, and are harassed and mistreated by U.S. agencies.
My cap stone thesis looks at the influence of race, gender and social economic status of the population incarcerated. I am interested in and developing a stronger sense of the discriminating polices and institutional enforcing of the past American policies targeting black and brown bodies. This research can regretfully, be used to compare the last 20 years of “progressive” policies to the tradeoff of a xenophobic, homophobic, and racist political office of the White House in 2017.
Statistics show that throughout American history, African American’s incarceration rates have always been higher than white American’s incarceration rates. The actual incarceration rate in America started dramatically increasing during the 1970’s and the US continues to be the country with the highest incarceration rate. To get a sense of just how much it has grown, in 2011 the prison population was at more than two million compared to 300,00 in 1970. Just in 2009 alone, the incarceration rate of African Americans was 3,119 per 100,000 Americans, compared to the rate of white Americans which was only 487 per 100,000 Americans.2 The gap is huge, especially since white American incarceration rate wasn’t even close to being in the thousands and this statistic makes the disparity glaring. The future and predictions aren’t looking any better either, in 2001 the Bureau of Justice
Michelle Alexander is a highly celebrated civil rights lawyer, advocate, and legal scholar. In her book, The New Jim Crow: Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, Alexander discusses the legal systems that seem to be doing their jobs perfectly well but have in fact just replaced one racial caste system with a new one. Cornel West called her book the “Secular Bible of a new social movement.” In 2011, the NAACP gave her book the image award for best Nonfiction. In this book, she focuses on racial problems in the past as well as the present and argues that the problems are basically the same, if not worse. She uses examples as well as metaphors. Alexander’s research is beautifully done and is very motivating to read. She paints a devastating picture of the new Jim Crow and how it functions in the world we live in. She uses images that make you cringe but at the same time persuades you that it is in fact all true.
“Orange Is the New Black” is a modern memoir that leads you through Piper Kerman’s experiences in Danbury, a women’s correctional facility, and shows you the life within the cold walls. Her words magnify the greatness within everybody, even the ones who have been thought to not even contain a heart, not even a soul within their body. The people who have been encaged, locked up behind bars. “The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness” by Michelle Alexander is an extraordinarily-written modern book, completely opposite of Piper Kerman’s memoir. It shows the challenges that most of the colored and Latino men face once they are framed as a criminal, as well as the stereotypical treatment they receive as human beings. While Piper Kerman’s book shows the happiness and good in all the different types of people, gay, black, white, straight, transgender, Latino, Buddhist, Catholic, or a stone cold killer, Michelle Alexander points out the fact that African Americans are being treated the way they used to, being looked at no differently than slaves.
Today, in America there is a disproportionate amount of Black people incarcerated. There are discrepancies in everything from the education they receive to the jobs that are available to them. This growing trend needs to be addressed and changed permanently, otherwise already superfluous statistics will continue to increase. The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (n.d.) declared that “One in six black men had been incarcerated as of 2001. If current trends continue, one in three black males born today can expect to spend time in prison during his lifetime.” African American incarceration has become an accepted norm in our society and in order to fix it we need to establish the lack of education, address workplace
African Americans in the US have been through some of the worst situations. They have been dehumanized by white supremacy and systematic oppression. For example, from being slaves, to Jim Crow laws, to segregation, to oppression by being trapped in public housing and high crime rate inner-cities. The main focus of this paper is the problem of mass incarceration in the US. There are currently 2 million people in prison, most are African American men. There needs to be prison reform in order to decrease the number of inmates in prison and help former inmates lead a more productive life after serving time.
Imagine being locked up in a cramped prison along side thousands of other inmates just for committing a minor crime. When you are finally liberated from the strict institution that’s been barricading you from society, you find that you’re stripped of basic rights to education, welfare, and so on. Scary is it not? Well, that’s the harsh reality behind mass incarceration. Mass incarceration has been an issue ever since the dawn of the “drug wars” back in the 80’s and 90’s. Millions of people were locked up for minor crimes, mostly nonviolent drug crimes, which resulted in lengthy prison sentences due to mandatory sentencing laws such as the Crime Bill that Bill Clinton enacted in 1994. As a result, the prison population nearly quintupled and many men went missing from society. What could fuel such motivation to lock away millions of people? In “The New Jim Crow”, Michelle Alexander holds a firm belief that the racist fictional character “Jim Crow” is secretly being kept alive and that many black men are being wrongfully locked away due to racial prejudice. Although she has some compelling arguments on the topic of mass incarceration, they’re simply not the case in today’s society. Only a small percentage of the prison population is made up of inmates serving mandatory sentences and the truth behind mass incarcerations ultimately comes down to the prevention of drug-related violence as well as improper prosecutors.
In conclusion, the United States consist of five percent of the world’s population with 25 percent in a prison setting. During the prison boom over half the prison population is African Americans although they only make up 13 percent of the population. Similar to slavery, mass incarceration uses a strategy for economic growth in many communities. As predictor race in the United States, inferior labor market opportunities, racial disparities, and the destruction of family units has helped to maintain economic hierarchy. There is no way to undo the damage that has been done but to target at risk individuals, we as a nation must look beyond our past and reeducate ourselves about race. Due to mass incarceration being so costly, it has gotten a great deal of attention due to economic oppression and the legacy of racism passed down will lead to the reinvention of Jim Crow.