In the era of colorblindness, it is no longer socially permissible to use race, explicitly, as a justification for discrimination, exclusion, and social contempt. Yet, as legal star Michelle Alexander reveals, today it is perfectly legal to discriminate against convicted criminals in nearly all the ways that it was once legal to discriminate against African Americans. Once you’re labeled a felon, the old forms of discrimination—employment discrimination, housing discrimination, denial of the right to vote, denial of educational opportunity, denial of food stamps and other public benefits, and exclusion from jury service—are suddenly legal.
Featured on The Tavis Smiley Show, Bill Moyers Journal, Democracy Now, and C-Span’s Washington Journal, The New Jim Crow has become an overnight phenomenon, sparking a much-needed conversation—including a recent mention by Cornel West on Real Time with Bill Maher&mdas;about ways in which our system of mass incarceration has come to resemble systems of racial control from a different era.
Price argues that the prison separates prisoners from desperately needed communities of support from parents, spouses, and children. Moreover, this isolation of people in prison renders them highly vulnerable to other forms of violence, including sexual violence. Price stresses that the violence they face goes beyond physical abuse by prison guards and it involves institutionalized forms of mistreatment, ranging from abysmally poor health care to routine practices that are arguably abusive, such as pat-downs, cavity searches, and the shackling of pregnant women. And social death does not end with prison. The condition is permanent, following people after they are released from prison. Finding housing, employment, receiving social welfare benefits, and regaining voting rights are all hindered by various legal and other hurdles. The mechanisms of social death, Price shows, are also informal and cultural. Ex-prisoners face numerous forms of distrust and are permanently stigmatized by other citizens around them.
A compelling blend of solidarity, civil rights activism, and social research, Prison and Social Death offers a unique look at the American prison and the excessive and unnecessary damage it inflicts on prisoners and parolees.
In this updated survey, a thorough overview of capital punishment, author Michael Kronenwetter reveals interesting facts, for example, under Roman law, death was the penalty for publishing "insulting songs" and disturbing the city's peace.
A central factor causing the upsurge in the drug war, the author explains, is the fact that laws were passed in the 1980s that allowed law enforcement to profit from seizing property based on scanty evidence and without criminal charges. His meticulous research has revealed that this "policing for profit" is responsible for a variety of assaults on civil liberties, including mass incarceration, SWAT teams, and random drug sweeps. A second factor that infects every aspect of the War on Drugs is racism—the widespread stereotyping of drug traffickers as African Americans and Latinos. These issues and more are explored in this book that lays bare what the media largely ignores.
Representing disciplines ranging from criminology to economics, geography, law, sociology, and political science, the contributors critically examine and debate the nature and impact of recent and contemporary American criminal justice policies. Particular attention is paid to the impact of such policies on the nation's racial divide, but the authors use this disparity to illustrate the broader public policy paradoxes and dilemmas which lie at the heart of the struggle to control rising crime rates. Purported reforms in sentencing, the nation's growing prison population, the war on drugs and gangs, the demise of juvenile court, racial profiling and affirmative action are all grist for the mill. Contributors also ask more philosophical and epistemological questions such as the meaning of social justice, fairness, and justice and their relevance for understanding contemporary criminal justice.
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Americans fear crime, are rattled by race and avoid honest discussions of both. Anxiety, denial, miscommunication, and ignorance abound. Imaginary connections between minorities and crime become real, self-fulfilling prophecies and authentic links to race, class, gender and crime go unexplored. Katheryn Russell-Brown, author of the highly acclaimed The Color of Crime, makes her way through this intellectual minefield, determined to shed light on the most persistent and perplexing domestic policy issues.
The author tackles a range of race and crime issues. From outdated research methods that perpetuate stereotypes about African Americans, women, and crime to the over hyped discourse about gangsta rap and law breaking, Russell-Brown challenges the conventional wisdom of criminology. Underground Codes delves into understudied topics such as victimization rates for Native Americans—among the highest of any racial group—and how racial profiling affects the day-to-day lives of people of color.
Innovative, well-researched and meticulously documented, Underground Codes makes a case for greater public involvement in the debate over law enforcement—and our own language—that must be heard if we are to begin to have a productive national conversation about crime and race.