Essay On The Age Of Mass Incarceration

1973 Words 8 Pages
In the age of mass incarceration, a failed criminal justice system has left the United States with the largest imprisoned population in the world. There are many different elements that have helped play a part in this flawed criminalization regime which can all be traced back to the early history of the country. The 14th amendment though serving as a protection for citizens has with the addition of the war on crime helped disenfranchise much of the population in turn giving whites surrounding prisons unanticipated power. It is the creation of power relations throughout the country 's history that have helped cement the current criminal justice system into what it is today. Power relations such as the concept of “Property”, “Social death”, and …show more content…
Based on comparative studies Orlando Patterson had found that compared to other forms of forced labor, slavery is unique in its imposition of social death. Social death is the alienation or exclusion of a slave from its own community which is justified by the slaves undeserving state. Social death is accomplished by law when it refuses to acknowledge a slaves heritage and its genealogical relationships. The social banishment that they are forced to partake in creates a separation from their roots and community which alienates them. This social banishment is what is suppose to distinguish slavery from involuntary servitude. The use of plantation labor which arose following the enactment of the 13th amendment creates a lack of rehabilitative value which delays a prisoner 's reintegration to society. “White southerners like to believe that blacks did not mind going to prison that there was no shame to it no loss of status, no fear of what lay ahead “ ( Oshinsky, 136). The justification of the imprisonment of vast number of african americans makes the idea of social death more acceptable for those imposing it. However The cultural effects of exclusion and degradation created by these conditions causing social death create a stigma of inferiority in a …show more content…
The rise of modern capitalism has subjected people to criminalization which has caused disenfranchisement between groups. Similarly to slavery incarceration promotes the preservation of life which leads to the form of slavery which is present in U.S prisons today. Since the 13th amendment allows slavery as a form of punishment, prisons are able to exploit this labor in order to make a profit. Inmates are no longer seen as people and are instead seen as property which help fund the bigger financial goals. Inmates are a form of free labor and the prison system today is not oblivious to that. This is why there is a rise in the privatization of prisons in the system today. Private prison companies make deals with the state which guarantee high prison occupancy rates. Prisons are beginning to become private corporations that benefit from the amount of people that are locked up. Though there is a decrease in crime in nearly all aspects there continues to be a rise in incarceration rates(Christie, 21). This is heavily due to the business aspect that prisons now have. They benefit from having large numbers of prisoners just as plantation owners benefits from having large amount of slaves. The slavery business culture continues to be a part of the U.S today and it lives on through the prison

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