Mass incarceration

Ray Nasser and Alex Nemec

By Alex N. from Project Citizen in Connecticut

           Mass incarceration has been a major problem in the United States since the 1970’s with a huge spike in the number of federal inmates, mostly in part to an increasing toughness on crime from a legislative standpoint. Mass incarceration has also disproportionately affected minorities which has opened a door to less job opportunities for the people affected, as a felony would be repellent to any potential employers. All of this, makes mass incarceration plaguing the United States.

          Despite holding 5% of the world's population the United States holds over 25% of the world's imprisoned population. After the 1970s mass incarceration started to rise to where it is today, the cause of this was the federal and state lawmakers passing laws that increased the amount of prison time for individuals for a multitude of crimes, this meant that many more people were stuck in prisons for much longer periods, yet in 2010 mass incarceration experienced its first drop in prison population. This occurred because lawmakers were rethinking their stance on crime and how tough they were on sentencing. Although incarceration has experienced a drop, this does not mean it is not a huge problem and something we need to fix.

           Mass incarceration unfairly affects minorities because of how many more are unfairly targeted and arrested, while 1% more of blacks use drugs 530 more are arrested (per 100,000 residences of each race). another example of this is that while being only 13% of the american population blacks make up 40% of the imprisoned population, while whites being 64% of america's population only make up 39% of the imprisoned population. This is not because blacks commit more crimes but because they are unfairly targeted because of the stigma that they are criminal in nature. This is proof of the fact that mass incarceration and our justice system our not living up to what the american people should expect from this.

            When gathering data about employment we must consider how many offenders are able or willing to get jobs and how it is hard to find data on them because the justice system does not help with this process in any way, which leads to more unemployment. It is hard for offenders to find jobs because of the lack of support and how they have been blocked from the rest of society for extended periods of time.why do we expect them to become accustomed to something that they could only dream of while in a cell. And when given no choices and lacking freedom the offenders can only repeat what they know.

             Mass incarceration is a huge problem that the United States is facing and there are many problems that are facing the system and reform must be a step in the United States’ future. Mass incarceration disproportionately affected minority communities, and we know that even when you get out of jail, the chance that you will be able to find a well paying job is incredibly miniscule. How can we call ourselves “The Land of the Free,” when millions of Americans remain shackled to the prison system?

Bibliography

Pager, Devah. Marked: Race, Crime, and Finding Work in an Era of Mass Incarceration. University of Chicago Press, 2009.

“Vera Institute.” Vera, www.vera.org/ending-mass-incarceration.

“Criminal Justice Facts.” The Sentencing Project, www.sentencingproject.org/criminal-justice-facts/.

Durrell Malik Washington. “Mass Incarceration: Overview of Its Effects on Black and Brown Individuals, with Policy Recommendations Using Family Engagement to Address Recidivism.” Columbia Social Work Review, Columbia University Libraries, May 2018, pp. 34–44, doi:10.7916/d8-8x37-tz40.

Sawyer, Wendy, and Peter Wagner. “Mass Incarceration: The Whole Pie 2019.” Mass Incarceration: The Whole Pie 2019 | Prison Policy Initiative, www.prisonpolicy.org/reports/pie2019.html.

Initiative, Prison Policy. “States of Incarceration: The Global Context 2018.” Prison Policy Initiative, www.prisonpolicy.org/global/2018.html

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Holzer, Harry J., et al. “Employment Barriers Facing Ex-Offenders.” PsycEXTRA Dataset, 2003, doi:10.1037/e717782011-001.

Lopez. “How America Became the World's Leader in Incarceration, in 22 Maps and Charts.” Vox, Vox, 11 Oct. 2016, www.vox.com/2015/7/13/8913297/mass-incarceration-maps-charts.

Levin, Benjamin. “THE CONSENSUS MYTH IN CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM.” Michigan Law Review, vol. 117, no. 2, Michigan Law Review Association, Nov. 2018, pp. 259–318.

Project Citizen

Project Citizen '19

Project Citizen is a youth writing lab that is offered as part of the Connecticut Writing Project at Fairfield University. The mission of Project Citizen is to empower young writers to engage in issues of social and political importance through a variety of genres in order to both find their voice and to become fully realized citizens in our democracy. Project Citizen brings together students from school districts and towns in Fairfield county that represent a variety of economic, racial, ethnic, and religious demographic groups in an effort to break down the "zip code apartheid" that stands in the way of true collaborative learning.

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