Punishing Race: A Continuing American Dilemma

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Overview

How can it be in a nation that elected Barack Obama that a third of young black men are controlled by the justice system, and black men are seven times likelier than white to be in prison? Michael Tonry demonstrates in lucid, accessible language that these patterns result primarily from drug and crime control policies that disproportionately affect black Americans. These policies in turn result from a lack of white empathy for black people and from racial stereotypes and resentments provoked partly by the Republican Southern Strategy of appealing to white voters through use of coded appeals to race. The white majority, Tonry observes, has a remarkable capacity to endure the suffering of disadvantaged black and, increasingly, Hispanic men. The criminal justice system is the latest in a series of devices, including slavery, Jim Crow, and legally countenanced discrimination, that have maintained white dominance over black people. Tonry pushes for overdue—and realistic—changes in racial profiling and sentencing, and to the War on Drugs, to reduce their staggering human and social costs.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Michael Tonry's discussion and explanation of the racial disparities in prison, including black arrests for drug offenses, will change the way we think about fairness in our criminal justice system. Punishing Race is replete with original insights on how contemporary crime and drug policies have been shaped by a political climate that reflects America's unique history of race relations. Tonry documents the adverse racial effects of these policies and shows how they can be changed to do less unnecessary future harm to African Americans. This authoritative book is a must read." --William Julius Wilson, Lewis P. and Linda L. Geyser University Professor, Harvard University

"With Punishing Race, Michael Tonry has once again shown us why he must be counted among America's foremost criminologists. The topic of this book could not be more important, its appearance at this moment could not be more timely, nor could Tonry's mastery of his subject be more impressively complete. If you want to understand the historical, political, and sociological roots of the mess we Americans have gotten ourselves into with our criminal justice policies, and if you want help in thinking about how we might get out of that mess, then you simply must read this book." --Glenn Loury, Merton P. Stoltz Professor of the Social Sciences, Professor of Economics and of Public Policy, Brown University

"Punishing Race dramatically shows how politicians, playing on a long history of deeply troubled race relations, set up a criminal justice system that actively over-incarcerates blacks and Latinos, and thus disadvantages and disenfranchises too many minority Americans. Michael Tonry offers wise, valuable, and practical ideas on how to reform criminal justice policies and truly ensure freedom and justice for all." --Anthony D. Romero, Executive Director of the American Civil Liberties Union

"All in all, Michael Tonry's Punishing Race is a great book for those interested in ongoing racial discrimination within the criminal justice system, the history and legacy of this discrimination, and what can be done about it." --Contemporary Sociology

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Product Details

Meet the Author

Michael Tonry is Professor of Law and Public Policy at the University of Minnesota Law School, and Senior Fellow at the Netherlands Institute for the Study of Crime and Law Enforcement at Free University in Amsterdam.

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Table of Contents

Foreword
1. A Continuing American Dilemma
2. Imprisonment
3. Drugs
4. Race, Bias, and Politics
5. Ideology, Moralism, and Government
6. Doing Less Harm Notes References Index

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