Mass Incarceration
New Jim Crow, Class War, or Both?

Lewis, Nathaniel

Publisher:  People's Policy Project
Date Written:  30/01/2018
Year Published:  2018  
Resource Type:  Article
Cx Number:  CX22135

Using data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health, Lewis analyzes racial and class disparities in incarceration.



Americans - black Americans in particular - are incarcerated at jaw-dropping rates... There are two common explanations for these disparities in left-of-center thought. The first explanation is that mass incarceration exists as a racist system for managing black people as black people following the end of formal Jim Crow laws and the successes of the civil rights movement... The second explanation is that mass incarceration exists as a capitalist system for managing poor people, following the rollback of the liberal social welfare state and other neoliberal reforms that left the working class to fend for itself... The discovery of racial disparities in the criminal justice system cannot, by itself, tell us which of these views is closer to the truth since both views predict and explain racial disparities. Therefore, we need to look at incarceration through some measure of class in conjunction with race.

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