Punishment And Inequality In America By Bruce Western

1296 Words 6 Pages
Punishment and Inequality in America by Bruce Western a former Sociology Professor at Princeton University goes into great detail on the evolution of punishment in America and its overall affects. He expands on one of the most controversial topics in America the American penal system; and how it went from a rehabilitative, self-reflecting tool in the early 19th century to a deterrent and strict form of punishment in the mid 20th century. Western also touches base on racial inequality in regards to imprisonment in the United States and the overall effect it has on one group of people.
Western begins his book with a brief history of American penitentiaries, naming two famous institutions, Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia and Auburn State Prison in upstate New York. Eastern State was the first generation of American prisons developed by the Quakers; they used solitary confinement as a means of reflection and repent in order for convicts to change the wrongs they did. It was there idea of a humane alternative from brutal convictions and executions that were quite popular during the early 19th century. Unfortunately this method led to a large number of suicides and mental breakdowns become more and more evident.
Auburn State Prison was considered the second generation of
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African Americans have always been at the forefront of inequality in America; both in labor and imprisonment. Western states that, “The prison boom has driven a wedge into the African American community, where those without college education are not travelling a path of unique disadvantage that increasingly separates them from college-educated blacks”. Unfortunately, America’s change in penal system unintentionally put a target on those of African descent due to the fact that many young black men and African American communities are poor and deprived of jobs and

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