The Problem Of Prison Overcrowding Essay

1535 Words 7 Pages
Prior to 2014, I insisted that our judicial system contained no racial biases. In truth, I remember before hearing about profiling and stop-and-frisk laws, asserting that people were making a fuss about race for no reason. A year later, I wrote a research paper for my advanced placement literature class about the problem of prison overcrowding. Then again, for my introductory sociology class last semester, I wrote a paper analyzing the effectiveness of varying methods proposed to decrease prison recidivism rates. While in both, I acknowledge the racialized condition of our prison system, I disregard the history of how this came to be and create connections between the institution (and logics) of slavery and of mass incarceration. As critical race theory contends that everything is a historical being or construction, I now believe it is imperative to make these connections.
Before writing it into law, there was no clear racial distinction between whites and blacks among social groups. The triad structure of settler-native-enslaved predates the construct of race and in fact, not all slaves imported to colonial America were from Africa; some originated from Ireland. In “Whiteness as Property,” UCLA law professor Cheryl I. Harris examines how early legislation was used in order to create this distinction by equating notions of whiteness to notions of ownership. To illustrate, laws were created that prohibited blacks “to travel without permits, to own property, to assemble…

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