Thompson, H. (2012) The prison industrial complex: a growth industry in a shrinking economy. Journal of New Labor Forum. 21(3) 39-47. Retrieved from

Chang, T., Thompkins, D. (2002). Corporations go to prisons: the expansions of corporate power in the correctional industry. Journal of Labor Studies, 27(1) 45-69. Retrieved from

Pettit, B., Western, B. (2004) Mass imprisonment and the life course: race and inequality in U.S. incarceration. Journal of American Sociological Review. 69(2) 151-169. Retrieved from




Incarceration Association with Social Inequality

“States with large white populations also tend to incarcerate blacks at a high rate, controlling for race-specific arrest rates and demographic variables. (Pettit, Western, 2004) ”

“the poor are perceived as threatening to social order by criminal justice officials ((Pettit, Western, 2004).”

“the dominant classes use imprisonment as a means of political, economic, and social control over the “dangerous classes”: the unemployed, the poor, the homeless, the mentally ill, the political dissidents, and the racial, ethnic, and social “others” (Chang, Thompkins, 2002).

“Barlow (1996) found that when the economy stagnates, Congress passes more federal laws that add additional activities as criminal offenses, mandates more severe penalties, and demands more strict law enforcement. Jacobs and Helms (1996) documented that, compared to Democrats, Republican presidents since 1935 have established a record of campaigning on a “tough on crime” platform to attract lower- and working-class voters (Chang, Thompkins, 2002).”

Topic: How does the U.S. prison system affect the economy and recidivism rates?

  • Question 1: How does prison industry enhancement programs link with Mass Incarceration?
  • Question 2:  Why has the rise and development of prisons lead to an increase in job loss, unemployment, and impoverishment?
  • Question 3: How does the prison system reflect racism and inequality that continues to haunt the U.S.?