Examining the Collectivities that Protect the Existing Incarceration Policies

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In a society that claims freedom and equality is a constitutional right, the United States has unprecedented rates of individuals in incarceration. According to the Stanford Law Review, over two million individuals were incarcerated in the year 2002, the majority African Americans (Roberts, 2004). The high rate of incarceration creates the illusion of a nation with a terrible crime epidemic and a need for a 'tough on crime' attitude to keep the streets safe, although this is far from reality. The influx of prisoners is not due to a rise in dangerous crimes, but is in result of public policy changes and the social construction of institutions. The system of incarceration perpetuates a cycle of poverty, family separation, low education attainment, racism and many more social and economic consequences.With this stratifying structure existing in a society that values freedom, its curious that this paradox has not yet been reformed. This paper will examine the collectivities that protect the existing incarceration policies, those individuals that support policy reform, and the reasons and benefits behind each. Public policies and established structures are two means by which political leaders, law enforcement, and the powerful majority (white males) protect and serve their interests. Historically, the racism and attitude of white superiority was outspoken and very apparent in the actions and laws against African Americans and other disadvantaged groups. Slavery and Jim Crow laws succeeded in oppressing the minorities and keeping white males at the head of important political, economic, and social decisions (Alexander, 2010). However, todays society places importance on the value of American equality and freedom. Because of the incr... ... middle of paper ... ...ander, Michelle. 2010. The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness. New York: New Press. Geller, Amanda., Carey E. Cooper, Irwin Garfinkel, Ofira Schwartz-Soicher, and Ronald B. Mincy. 2012. “Beyond Absenteeism: Father Incarceration and Child Development.” Demography 49 (1):49-76. Gustafson, Kaaryn. 2009. “The Criminalization of Poverty.” The Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology 99 (3):643-716. Miller, Lisa L. 2010. “The Invisible Black Victim: How American Federalism Perpetuates Racial Inequality in Criminal Justice.” Law & Society Review 44 (3):805-842. Roberts, Dorothy E. 2004. “The Social and Moral Cost of Mass Incarceration in African American Communities.” Stanford Law Review 56 (5):1271-1305. Scherlen, Renee. 2012. “Never-Ending Drug War: Obstacles to Drug War Policy Termination.” Political Science and politics 45(1):67-73.

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