Week 16 A&B Blog Post

Kataleeya Cashion

Chapter 9

Jails exist to hold inmates who are awaiting trial who cannot make bail or have been denied bail, inmates who are required to make court appearances, and inmates who are serving sentences that are less than one year. Jails are administered at the county level and are connected to courthouses, while prisons are administered at both the state and federal level. Prisons hold inmates who are convicted of state crimes in that state, have sentences that are longer than one year, and are of all custody levels: minimum, medium, maximum, and death row. The Corrections Association of America is the largest private corporation in the prison industry, with a total of $1.2 billion in revenue in the year of 2005. The “total institution” was coined by Goffman (1961) and is a basic social arrangement in modern postindustrial society in which barriers of sleep, play, and work are broken down that would ordinary separate these three spheres of life. There are four specific features of the total institution: 1.) all aspects of life are conducted in the same place under the same central authority, 2.) all members of the community are treated alike and required to do the same thing together, 3.) all phases of the day’s activity are tightly scheduled, and 4.) various activities are brought together into a single, rational plan that is designed to fulfill the official aims of the institution. The American prison is perceived as the “worst” total institution.

Most citizens are incarcerated as a result of “the war on drugs.” president Ronald Reagan added the term “Drug Czar” to the War on Drugs Campaign as a position of the Executive office. Approximately 450,000 nonviolent drug offenders are in prison, which is 45% of the inmate population. The mass incarceration of African American men ultimately benefits whites. This is displayed with the influx of occupational positions that African American men are removed from. This provides more job opportunities to white men, thus giving them more political power. Secondly, the expanding of prisons in deindustrialized communities provides economic stability, jobs, and building contracts that more heavily benefit white communities than African American communities.

It is evident that the majority of incarcerated individuals consist of marginalized groups of society; minorities and women. Out of the 2.6 million Americans who are incarcerated, 150,000 or so are women, constituting 6-10% of the prison population. Gender differences in incarceration are primarily related to reproductive health, in which the separation of men and women is due to women’s health issues that need special attention. Women are increasingly being incarcerated and the severity of issues on a larger scale must be addressed to ensure consistency and “sameness” for inmates of all genders.

90 out of every 1000 Black men will be incarcerated during their lifetime. White and Black men are equally as guilty for committing crimes, however the likelihood of committing different types of crimes are far different. The book illustrates a very interesting point, in which child molesters are much more likely to be white and serve an average of 6 years, or only 40% of their full sentence, whereas a Black man is much more likely to be found guilty for possession of crack, which is a nonviolent crime, and serve 11 years and 80% of their sentence. The Bureau of statistics collected data from 1990 of the race of all people involved in traffic stops. While every race had equal chances of being pulled over, African Americans and Hispanics were more likely to have forced search of their cars and bodies. Part of the higher rate of incarceration for African Americans is a direct outcome of the higher probability that they will be searched, arrested, and charged with a crime. Between 1880 and 1930, an estimated 10,000 African American men were lynched. The longheld myth of the Black rapist in addition to white americans mistaking one black person for another supports the narrative about black men as offenders, affecting the incarceration rates in modern-day.

“The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness”

If you are labeled a felon, you are excluded from jury service, denied the right to educational opportunity, to vote, food stamps and other public benefits. We have not ended racial discrimination as a caste system in society, we have only refined it. People of all color are likely to sell illegal drugs, however people of color are more likely to see drugs and come across them in everyday life. In the U.S., around 750 out of 100,000 Americans are incarcerated, compared to Germany, which is 93 out of 100,000. Additionally, about 80% of African American men have criminal records. The rates of incarceration increase across time as countries become developed. Industrialization and capitalist government implementing social hierarchies is one of the causes of mass incarceration in the United States.

The United States has the highest rate of incarceration in the world. In 1973, The National Advisory Commission on Criminal Justice Standards and Goals recommends that no new institutions are to be built and existing institutions for juveniles should be closed down, because the existence of these institutions is only creating crime and altering the perceptions of behaviors as crime in order to fill up the institution. The author calls the American penal system as a form of social control. Civil Rights advocates have been focusing on issues rather than the mass incarceration in the United States. One in three African American men is currently under the control of the Criminal Justice system. The key to understanding class in the U.S. is the belief that hard work alone will raise someone’s status from low class to upper class. Some states have reconsidered their harsh sentencing schemes in the case of economic downfall. The states do not take into consideration the difficulty that the family of an inmate is having while they are in prison, unable to earn a wage to support the family. This book creates the conversation about segregation and informs its audience about the injustices of segregation within the prison system.

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