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Race, Racism and Anti-Racism: Criminal Justice System
The subjects of Race, Racism, and Anti-Racism are complex and intersectional. This guide is designed to provide basic information and links for those who want to explore the topics to gain a deeper understanding of these subjects.
"Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted,
shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction."
- The Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution
The United States is the world leader in incarcerating citizens. 707 people out of every 100,000 are imprisoned. If those currently incarcerated in the US prison system were a country, it would be the 102nd most populated nation in the world. Weaving together sociological and psychological principles, theories of political reform, and real-life stories from experiences working in prison and with at-risk families, Mary Looman and John Carl form a foundation of understanding to demonstrate that prison is prison is more than an institution built of of fences and policies - it is a culture. Prison continues well after incarceration, as ex-felons leave correctional facilities without money or legal identification of American citizenship. Trapped in the isolation of poverty, these legal aliens turn to illegal ways of providing for themselves and are often imprisoned again. This situation is unsustainable and America is clearly facing an incarceration epidemic that requires a new perspective to eradicate it.
In the United States today, one in every thirty-one adults is under some form of penal control, including one in eleven African American men. How did the "land of the free" become the home of the world's largest prison system? Challenging the belief that America's prison problem originated with the Reagan administration's War on Drugs, Elizabeth Hinton traces the rise of mass incarceration to an ironic source: the social welfare programs of Lyndon Johnson's Great Society at the height of the civil rights era.
Beginning in Africa and ending in Europe, Incarceration Nations is a first-person odyssey through the prison systems of the world. Professor, journalist and founder of the Prison-to-College-Pipeline, Baz Dreisinger looks into the human stories of incarcerated men and women and those who imprison them, creating a jarring, poignant view of a world to which most are denied access, and a rethinking of one of America's most far-reaching global exports: the modern prison complex.
Seeking active engagement, reform, and social justice in the age of Black Lives Matter, Sandra E. Weissinger and Dwayne A. Mack masterfully document one of the country’s most consequential historical issues—social and criminal injustice by the criminal justice system, particularly in police institutions. Contributing authors vividly assess and masterfully delineate the historical, social, legal, philosophical, and ideological forces shaping and reshaping the black and Latino/a experience with police and the mainstream US. In the current highly charged political climate, the book is a timely education in policing minority communities and race/ethnic relations and vital for sociology, history, ethnic/minority studies, and criminal justice collections. - Choice
Yale legal scholar and former public defender James Forman Jr. weighs the tragic role that some African Americans themselves played in escalating the war on crime. As Forman shows, the first substantial cohort of black mayors, judges, and police chiefs took office around the country amid a surge in crime. Many came to believe that tough measures-such as stringent drug and gun laws and "pretext traffic stops" in poor African American neighborhoods-were needed to secure a stable future for black communities. Drawing on his experience as a public defender and focusing on Washington, D.C., Forman writes with compassion for individuals trapped in terrible dilemmas-from the young men and women he defended to officials struggling to cope with an impossible situation.
By targeting black men through the War on Drugs and decimating communities of color, the U.S. criminal justice system functions as a contemporary system of racial control--relegating millions to a permanent second-class status--even as it formally adheres to the principle of colorblindness.
Policing the Black Manexplores and critiques the many ways the criminal justice system impacts the lives of African American boys and men at every stage of the criminal process from arrest through sentencing. Essays range from an explication of the historical roots of racism in the criminal justice system to an examination of modern-day police killings of unarmed black men. The co-authors discuss and explain racial profiling, the power and discretion of police and prosecutors, the role of implicit bias, the racial impact of police and prosecutorial decisions, the disproportionate imprisonment of black men, the collateral consequences of mass incarceration, and the Supreme Court's failure to provide meaningful remedies for the injustices in the criminal justice system. Policing the Black Manis an enlightening must-read for anyone interested in the critical issues of race and justice in America.
Mass Incarceration Visualized
In this 2015 video by the Atlantic, Sociologist Bruce Western explains the current probability of prison for certain demographics of young black men and how it's become normalized.
Using audio from her interviews with incarcerated people and their families, Eve Abrams shares touching stories of those impacted by mass incarceration and calls on us all to take a stand and ensure that the justice system works for everyone.
Duration: 14 minutes
13th Full Length Film
Director Ava DuVernay's examination of the U.S. prison system looks at how the country's history of racial inequality drives the high rate of incarceration in America. This film won Best Documentary at the Emmys, the BAFTAs, and the NAACP Image Awards.
TV-MA For mature audiences. May not be suitable for ages 17 and under.
protects public safety by ensuring that federal offenders serve their sentences of imprisonment in facilities that are safe, humane, cost-efficient, and appropriately secure, and provide reentry programming to ensure their successful return to the community.
To collect, analyze, publish, and disseminate information on crime, criminal offenders, victims of crime, and the operation of justice systems at all levels of government. These data are critical to federal, state, and local policymakers in combating crime and ensuring that justice is both efficient and evenhanded
is dedicated to improving knowledge and understanding of crime and justice issues through science. NIJ provides objective and independent knowledge and tools to inform the decision-making of the criminal justice community to reduce crime and advance justice, particularly at the state and local levels.
We Need to Talk About an Injustice
Human rights lawyer Bryan Stevenson shares some hard truths about America's justice system, starting with a massive imbalance along racial lines: a third of the country's black male population has been incarcerated at some point in their lives.
Duration: 20 minutes
Attorney Bryan Stevenson Found His Calling When He Visited Death Row
The account of, an idealistic, gifted young lawyer’s coming of age, a moving window into the lives of those he has defended, and an inspiring argument for compassion in the pursuit of true justice. It was written by Bryan Stevenson, the executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative in Montgomery, Alabama and a professor of law at New York University Law School.
BRYAN STEVENSON is the founder and Executive Director of the Equal Justice Initiative in Montgomery, Alabama. Mr. Stevenson is a widely acclaimed public interest lawyer who has dedicated his career to helping the poor, the incarcerated and the condemned.
"is a national litigation and public policy organization dedicated to exonerating wrongfully convicted individuals through DNA testing and reforming the criminal justice system to prevent future injustices."
Founded in 1986, The Sentencing Project works for a fair and effective U.S. criminal justice system by promoting reforms in sentencing policy, addressing unjust racial disparities and practices, and advocating for alternatives to incarceration.
Issues: Women. The number of women in prison, a third of whom are incarcerated for drug offenses, is increasing at nearly double the rate for men. These women often have significant histories of physical and sexual abuse, high rates of HIV infection, and substance abuse. Large-scale women's imprisonment has resulted in an increasing number of children who suffer from their mother's incarceration and the loss of family ties.