Essay on The Incarceration Of The Civil Rights

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To end mass incarceration, the public’s attention needs to shift from a civil rights campaign to a moral crusade that advocates on behalf of criminals. The widespread aversion to advocacy on behalf of those labeled criminals reflects a certain political reality. Many think that spending money on criminal justice reform is unwise. Their thoughts exist because criminals are the one social group in America that everyone across political, racial and class boundaries feels free to hate.
We can continue down the civil rights road, but it has not made much of a difference. African-Americans, as a group, are no better off than they were in 1968 in many respects. To some extent, their plight is even worse.
As unemployment rates sank to historically low levels in the late 1990s for the general population, jobless rates among non-college black men in their twenties rose to their highest levels ever, propelled by skyrocketing incarceration rates.
One reason so many people have a false impression of the economic well-being of African Americans is that poverty and unemployment statistics do not include people who are behind bars. Prisoners are erased from the nation’s economic picture, leading standard estimates to underestimate the true jobless rate by as much as 24 percentage points for less-educated black men. Young African American men were the only group to experience a steep increase in joblessness between 1980 and 2000, a development directly traceable to the increase in…

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