Institutionalized Racism through Mass Incarceration

971 words | 4 page(s)

Mass incarceration has had collateral consequences on the black community. When felons are removed from a community, there is always harm that is brought even when they return having completed their sentences. To some extent, there is always a scar that will be left on these inmates and the immediate community. For example, when an incarcerated person returns to the community, stigmatization will always arise. The reputation of the person in the community already suffers a dent. They feel like they are morally inferior, hence cannot fit well in the society again where they were initially free and happy.

Healthwise, it has always been found that ex-inmates are prone to diseases and are most likely to suffer from premature death. The scarring effects also trickle down to their wives, children, especially of colored people. The children of inmates have been found to exhibit behavioral problems and are low achievers in school. The wives, on the other hand, bear the economic brunt. They suffer untold economic hardship as they are left to fend for themselves and their families. This has also led to depression amongst the wives. Just the fact that their fathers and husbands are no longer with them is enough depression; now adding this to the fact that they are forced to find food and other necessities for themselves worsens the already bad situation (Stack 179).

puzzles puzzles
Your 20% discount here.

Use your promo and get a custom paper on
"Institutionalized Racism through Mass Incarceration".

Order Now
Promocode: custom20

Sociologists have pointed out the adverse effect of mass incarceration on the African American community. They front it as the diminishing effect. Incarcerated persons often reduce to a diminished state in both their human capital state and as social beings. Their family life becomes disrupted. Their competitiveness in the job market is greatly diminished. They add on to the many people who are labelled as social misfits.

Mass incarceration has had a hand in empathetic inurement. A special case is of African American inmates. While serving their jail terms, they develop a lack of empathy as means of survival in the prison environment. This lack of empathy, however, proves to be difficult to unlearn. They always develop this attitude as a result of difficulties and the treatment that they are given in the whole process from their arrest, which in most cases is violent, to their arraignment in court and eventually to the prison. They are usually handled quite roughly as compared to those from the majority community. It continues even after their release and becomes a normal way of life. They become figuratively deaf to empathy and this leaves a mark on their social and family lives. Perhaps, that is why some of them immediately after their release find their way back to the prisons for getting involved in other crimes. This is because they have lost that humane aspect of their lives.

According to Michelle Alexander, the losses revolve around political disenfranchisement, housing losses, and labor market exclusion. Antagonists of mass incarceration are of the view that slavery and segregation have merely been replaced by mass incarceration that is sustained by the criminal justice system. The system does this through racialization. This culminates in a structural pattern of racial inequality that outplays itself in the criminal justice system. The premise of their argument is that the criminal justice system is highly racialized since the aspects of race and class are the key determinants of the expansion of the mass incarceration system (Eisenberg 41).
Gulati & Laura, (799) contends that the activities of the police, the courts and the prisons have been outrightly discriminating. Their activities are finely targeted by class, race, and place leading to the mass incarceration of lower-class African American people in the lowly neighborhoods.

Significant research has shown that the perception of African Americans is highly stereotyped when it comes to crime. Even when it comes to crime policies and regulations, this perception plays a major role. A crime policy may be punitive when the race of offenders was determined to be black. In fact, a study conducted showed that white people would openly support a punitive measure against African American Offenders but would withdraw support when the offender was white. This has gone to an extent where even the judicial system also applies some partisan reasoning. Some judges just rule against black offenders even if there is no strong evidence linking them to the crime that they have been accused of (Uhlmann, Eric, & Geoffrey 479). People of the white race even blame those of the black race for the offences that it is their members that have committed and not the blacks. This has reached a level where it is now not easy to have a cross-cultural conversation about crime in the country. This is because people will argue along racial lines and this is an emotive issue that leads to violent confrontations.

This shows how the criminal justice system has institutionalized racism even in aspects of mass incarceration. This raises an important aspect concerning the consequence of mass incarceration particularly for African Americans. All it will take is a spirited effort to label mass incarceration as a policy and moral failure. If left to continue with no reforms, the underlying value of freedom and redemption will be greatly undermined with respect to the black community. This will not be a good thing for the country considering the strides that the country through its civil societies and human rights activists have made all through the years. Therefore, critical reforms need to take place in order to save the situation.

  • Uhlmann, Eric Luis, and Geoffrey L. Cohen. “Constructed criteria: Redefining merit to justify discrimination.” Psychological Science 16.6 (2005): 474-480.
  • Eisenberg, Theodore. “Why do empirical legal scholarship.” San Diego L. Rev. 41 (2004): 41.
  • Gulati, Mitu, and Laura Beth Nielsen. “Introduction: a new legal realist perspective on employment discrimination.” Law & Social Inquiry 31.4 (2006): 797-800.
  • Stack, Steven. “Gender and scholarly productivity: The case of criminal justice.” Journal of Criminal Justice 30.3 (2002): 175-182.

puzzles puzzles
Attract Only the Top Grades

Have a team of vetted experts take you to the top, with professionally written papers in every area of study.

Order Now