` ` AProposal submitted in partial fulfillment of requirements for the completion ofSociology 290December13, 2017 Mass Incarcerationand the Effects 1 Introduction “Mass incarceration is a term used by historians and sociologists todescribe the substantial increase in the number of incarcerated people in theUnited States.” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mass_incarceration) Mass incarcerationis on the rise in the 21st century.
According to Michelle Alexander, “The criminaljustice system is deliberately making felons out of black and brown people, inparticular, African-Americans. Thecriminal justice system acts more like a system of racial and social controlthan a system of crime prevention and social control”. Michelle Alexander in her book, The New Jim Crow, Mass Incarceration in theAge of Colorblindness, “claims that mass incarceration has become the newracial caste system in America. Both JimCrow and slavery were caste systems. When using the term racial caste system, Alexander means it to “denote astigmatized racial group locked into an inferior position by law andcustom.
” She feels that this is ourcurrent system of mass incarceration. (Alexander 12). She thinks of thecriminal justice system as a collection of institutions – police, prosecutors,judges, and prisons – that are a gateway into a much larger “system ofstigmatization and permanent marginalization. This system “locks people not only behind bars in actual prisons, butalso behind virtual bars and virtual walls – walls that are invisible to thenaked eye but function nearly as effectively as Jim Crow laws once did atlocking people of color into a permanent second-class citizenship.” (Alexander 12, 13). Whereonce segregation and Jim Crow laws served as a means of racial and socialcontrol, it is now, the criminal justice system that uses mass incarceration toserve this purpose. Mass incarcerationhas become the new racial caste system in America. Once someone enters intothis system it becomes Mass Incarceration and the Effects 2 more and more difficult to free one’sself.
Once released, former felons enter a hidden underworld of legalizeddiscrimination and permanent social exclusion. Mass incarceration is a new system of racialized social control in a purportedlya color-blind system. However, this isnot true. Mass incarceration operates using laws, policies and customs to massincarcerate and oppress black and brown people in America.
In America we livein a so-called color-blind society. It is no longer socially permissible to userace, explicitly, as justification for discrimination, exclusion, and socialcontempt. So, we pretend not to do it.
Nonetheless, the criminal justice system has been used to label peoplecriminals and mass incarcerate millions of black and brown people in Americasimply because of their race. So, rather than use race we use other ways todiscriminate against black and brown people in America. According to Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor,author of From #BlackLivesMatter, toBlack Liberation, African-Americans are singled out and labeled as theproblem for the poverty and crime in their communities. There is never any acknowledgement of thesystem’s part in creating these circumstances for poverty and crime to festerin the African-American community. It isalways simply the fault of the lazy, good-for-nothing blacks who don’t want towork. Taylor, however, argues that “thewidespread and widely agreed upon description of black people as lazy cheatsrationalizes the social economic disparities between African-Americans and therest of the society.
It absolves theeconomic and political system from any real responsibility.” (Taylor 48). Evidence shows incarceration is closely associated with low wages,unemployment, family instability, recidivism, and restrictions on political andsocial rights (Western, Kling and Weiman 2000; Hagan and Dinovitzer 1999;Sampson and Laub 1993; Mass Incarceration and the Effects 2 Uggen and Manza 2002; Hirsch et al. 2002). “If indeed imprisonment becamecommonplace among young disadvantaged and minority men through the 1980s and1990s, a variety of other social inequalities may have deepened as a result.
” AMERICANSOCIOLOGICAL REVIEW, 2004, VOL. 69 (April:151–169) “It is estimated that 5.3million people are prohibited from voting as a result of a felony conviction.
This equates to about one in every forty-oneadults. Nearly half of thosedisenfranchised have already completed their prison sentences. This figure alsoincludes the disenfranchisement of nearly 676,730 women. To put this issue into perspective, in the2004 Presidential Election, incumbent President George Bush won the state ofFlorida by 350,000 votes. During thatelection it is estimated that 960,000 people in Florida were prohibited fromvoting due to felony convictions. In addition to forty-eight states prohibitingfelons from voting while incarcerated, thirty-three states ban probationers orparolees from voting.
” Kay Randolph-Back, Public Housing Policies that ExcludeEx-Offenders: A House Divided, 2 (2007). 26 UNC School of Government CollateralConsequences Assessment Tool available at http://ccat.sog.unc.
edu/node/1667. Thepurpose for this study is to look at the effects of mass incarceration on blackand brown people in America. I will bestudying the effects of mass incarceration on black and brown men and women inAmerica. I plan to conduct a series ofinterviews with prisoners and men and women released from prison to ascertainthe effects of mass incarceration on them and their families. Participants will be 300 incarcerated blackand brown men in American prisons. I will conduct interviews over the course oftwo years. The first interview will be on newly imprisoned inmates.
There willbe a will be follow up assessments quarterly. The second interview will be at the two yearmark. Higher Mass Incarceration and the Effects 2 levels of stress, anxietyand depression and possible violence are expected to be associated withfeelings of isolation. In my study my researchwill focus on the socioeconomic effects of mass incarceration in the black andbrown community. The study will also focus on educated African Americans andnon- educated African Americans and their relationship with the prison system.
Myresearch will also focus on the effects of over policing in low-incomeneighborhoods. My research is going to focus on the educational, emotional,psychological, behavioral, and economical effects of mass incarceration ofblack and brown people in America. My focus will primarily focus on men forthis study. My research will also focus on the racial disparities between blackand brown people and whites in education with regards to mass incarceration. The proposed research will provide a muchneeded window into the world of mass incarceration. Thesis:Theeffects of mass incarceration on black and brown men and women in America isimportant to understanding racial bias within the American prison system.
LiteratureReview Becky Pettit Department of SociologyUniversity of Washington Bruce Western Department of Sociology PrincetonUniversity studied the effects of mass incarceration and penal inequality andlifetime risk for black and white men based on their level of education. Pettit and Western summarized that black menwith less education are at higher risk for imprisonment. “It was Mass Incarceration and the Effects 5 arguedthat risk of incarceration was highly stratified by education. It has beenhighly established that education in the black community is substandard to theeducation that is provided in the white community.
3 percent of whites and 20percent of blacks had served prison time by their earlythirties.” It is clear that massincarceration negatively effects black and brown people especially black menmore than it negatively effects whites especially white men. “Althoughcrime rates may explain as much as 80 percent of the disparity in imprisonment(Tonry 1995), a significant residual suggests that blacks are punitivelypoliced, prosecuted, and sentenced. Sociologists of punishment link thisdifferential treatment to official perceptions of blacks as threatening ortroublesome (Tittle 1994). The racial threat theory is empirically supported byresearch on sentencing and incarceration rates. Strongest evidence for raciallydifferential treatment is found for some offenses and in some jurisdictionsrather than at the aggregate level.
African Americans are at especially highrisk of incarceration, given their arrest rates, for drug crimes and burglary(Blumstein 1993).” RACE A AND C CLASS I INEQUALITY I IN U U.S. I INCARCERATION—–153.
When one walks through the black community one is more likely to find black menthat have been to prison as opposed to college. African Americans who are atlower income are at a higher risk of going to prison. There is a lack of accessto proper education and also educational resources in the black community. The justice system has played a major role inmass incarceration.
The justice system hands out harsher sentences to black andbrown people. “National Corrections Reporting Program (NCRP),1983–1997 (BJS 2002). NCRP data provides information on all admitted andreleased prisoners in 32–38 states. These data are used to calculate alladmissions from new court commitments between Mass Incarceration and the Effects 6 July 16 and July 15 of the following yearwith sentences of at least 1 year. We also identify all admissions during thatperiod that were discharged before July 15. Our adjustment factor, npx, is thenumber of admissions divided by the number of admissions minus the number ofdischarges.” RACE A AND C CLASS I INEQUALITY I IN UU.
S. I INCARCERATION—–165 Prison has become a life event among black and brownpeople. In 1999 30 percent of black menhad gone to prison the numbers were as high as 60 percent for African Americanmen who were high school drop outs. AMERICAN S SOCIOLOGICAL REVIEW (2004) Accordingto the American Sociology Review “African American youth are 6 to 8 times morelikely to go to prison that whites.” AMERICAN S SOCIOLOGICAL REVIEW (2004) Thereare clearly racial disparities within the prison system. Blacks with a lack ofeducation are at higher risk of incarceration. However, I don’t think thateducation is the only component to mass incarceration among black and brownpeople.
“Research shows that over 90 percent of prisoners are men and of thatnumber black men are 6 to 8 times more likely to be incarcerated than whites.” AMERICAN SOCIOLOGICAL REVIEW (2004) There arethose that would argue that African Americans are being sent to prison at analarming rate due to the crimes that they commit particularly drug relatedcrimes. Studies show that African Americans with less education have fewereconomic opportunities and are also more likely to commit drug related crimes. However, there are those that would argue thatthere is racial component to the amounts of blacks that are being incarcerated.”Risingcrime—especially drug-related crime—mayhave fed the prison boom, but crime and imprisonment data indicate thepreeminent effect of crime control policy (Blumstein and Beck 1999; Boggess andBound 1997).
Like research on crime, studies of criminal justice policy suggestthat race and class divisions in the risks of imprisonment have deepened. Theargument seems strongest for the war on drugs. Intensified criminalization of drug use swelled state and federal prisonpopulations by escalating arrest rates, increasing the risk of imprisonment givenarrest, and lengthening sentences for drug crimes through the 1980s (Tonry1995; Mauer 1999).
Street sweeps, undercover operations, and other aggressive policingefforts targeted poor black neighborhoods where drugs were traded in public andthe social networks of drug dealing were easily penetrated by narcotics officers (Tonry 1995:104–16). If poor black men were attracted to illegal drugtrade in response to the collapse of low-skill labor markets, the drug war raisedthe risks that they would be caught, convicted and incarcerated.” AMERICAN SSOCIOLOGICAL REVIEW (2004) Drugs, Incarceration, and HIV/AIDS Among AfricanAmerican Men: A Critical Literature Review and Call to Action Bronwen Lichtenstein, PhD September2009 in addition to massive incarceration ratesincreasing among African American especially men, Lichtenstein explainsthat “Aids and Hiv also disproportionately affect AfricanAmerican men compared to the U.S.
population as a whole. Disparities inrelation to crime and HIV/AIDS for Black men suggest that these phenomena haveelements in common, particularly given the mediating role of illicit drug useor drug activities in both cases. A socioecological exploration of how and whythese twin epidemics intersect (and the role of drug-related activities asmediating variables) is needed illicit drug use or to address the impact ofthese epidemics on the health and well-being of communities of color.” (Lichtenstein, September2009) Often once incarcerated convicts can not obtain jobs or other federalservices. This leads to a higher recidivism rate and also rampant drug use inthe community. “The role ofincarceration in this synergistic process begins with understanding howincarceration of youth and adults differentially afflicts AfricanAmericans,particularly those in low-income communities. The War on Drugs, a policy initiative of the Nixon administration(1969-1974), had an immediate impact on such communities and on the nature ofincarceration in the United States, and is an example of new laws that compoundthe distress of disenfranchised groups”.(Delgado & Stefancic, 2001).
Bothliterature reivews state the high probability of African Americans and the riskof incarceration for drug related crimes. This literature review focuses moreon the effects of mass incarceration on the health of African American men. Theother literature review focuses on the effects of mass incarceration on blackmen without a higher education.
Both articles argue that mass incarcerationeffects African American communities negatively more than white and othercommunities. ” Black men and their families will be deeply impacted by theeffects of mass incarceration.” “First,Black men havelost their voting rights after being imprisoned at a rate of 7 times thenational average (Fellner & Mauer, 1998). Second, their employment prospectsare severely affected by historically high rates of imprisonment, not onlybecause they are so often institutionalized, but because employers tend toregard many African American males as suspect (Western, 2006). Holzer, Raphael,and Stoll (2006); and Western and Pettit (2000) identified that employers are lesslikely to employ Black men, including those who do not have a crime history.
(Lichtenstein, September2009) I found it interesting that both articles really highlighted thedisparities between the incarceration rate for black and the incarceration ratefor whites. It is a real problem when African American communities are overpoliced. The importance of education is obvious when it comes to avoidingprison in the African American community. Since it is no longer legal to discriminateagainst one because of their race, mass incarceration seems to be an effectivetool in legalizing discrimination. Mass incarceration is an effective tool tooppress African American men and women with regards to education their mentaland physical health and well- being.
Neitherof the literature that I reviewed focused on African American women and themass incarceration rate among women. However, “Social science research hasidentified that ecological factors play a role in criminal justice involvementamong AfricanAmerican men. Roy (2004), for example, reported that young African American menin urban neighborhoods are often targeted by police for searches and warrants(the first steps in acquiring a police record), and that a heavy policepresence in these neighborhoods increased the risk of arrest regardless of the youths’ actualinvolvement in drug use or other crimes. In Freeman’s (1996) socioeconomicstudy, the rise in criminal activity among young African American mencorrelated with low legitimate earnings prospects, growing unemployment amongunskilled men, perceptions of low riskiness of crime, and desires to supplementlow paying work with money from selling drugs. Further,Pettit and Western(2004) and Western (2006) Drugs, Crime, and HIV/AIDS in Black Men / Lichtenstein255 reported that declining wages among non college Black men over the past20 years has increased the risk ofimprisonment and that declines in social mobility for these men correlated withreductions in military and educational opportunities that offset intergenerationalpoverty until the 1980s. These authors suggested that mass incarceration ofyoung African American men in the War onDrugs has become an independent indictorof declining socialmobility and hasled to increased recidivism in a cycle of hopelessness.” Alexander has argued exte4nsively thatstudies show that there is not more drug use or even more crime in blackcommunities.
Black communities are just over policed. Unwinding Mass Incarceration falseLobuglio,Stefan F; Piehl, AnneMorrison (Fall 2015)Essentiallyfocuses on the need to reduce the mass incarceration rate. It has been argued that mass incarceration ison the rise and most of the individuals that are imprisoned are imprisoned fornonviolent crimes. However, the articlethat I reviewed stated that the majority of in state prisoners are incarceratedfor violent crimes. According to, Lobuglio and Morrison “The United States Sentencing Commission and a growingnumber of states have taken steps to reduce the disproportionate andineffective sentences adopted during the excesses of the “war ondrugs” at the end of the past century. The commission has applied some ofthese reforms retroactively, and in July 2015 President Barack Obama extendedcommutations to 46 federal prisoners whose prison terms would have beencompleted had they been arrested under the new regime. We applaud these steps.But there are many more incarcerated-2.
2 million federal, state, and localprisoners. What would it take to unwind mass incarceration on a broader scale?” false falseLobuglio, Piehl, Morrison(Fall 2015) So, there is a sense that there is anacknowledgement that there needs to be steps towards reducing the number ofpeople who are mass incarcerated.