Race, Incarceration, and American Values

Race, Incarceration, and American Values

by Glenn C. Loury
     
 

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"The United States, home to 5 percent of the world's population, now houses 25 percent of the world's prison inmates. Our incarceration rate is almost 40 percent greater than our nearest competitors (the Banamas, Belarus, and Russia). It is 6.2 times the Canadian rate and 12.3 times the rate in Japan." "Economist Glenn C. Loury argues that this extraordinary mass… See more details below

Overview

"The United States, home to 5 percent of the world's population, now houses 25 percent of the world's prison inmates. Our incarceration rate is almost 40 percent greater than our nearest competitors (the Banamas, Belarus, and Russia). It is 6.2 times the Canadian rate and 12.3 times the rate in Japan." "Economist Glenn C. Loury argues that this extraordinary mass incarceration is not a response to rising crime rates or a proud success of social policy, but the product of a generation-old collective decision to become a more punitive society. He connects this policy to our history of racial oppression, showing that the punitive turn in American politics and culture emerged in the post-civil rights years and has today become the main vehicle for the reproduction of racial hierarchies." Scholars Pamela S. Karlan, Tommie Shelby, and Loic Wacquant respond to Loury's arguments and explore further the impact of mass incarceration.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

In this pithy discussion, renowned scholars debate the American penal system through the lens-and as a legacy-of an "ugly and violent" racial past. Economist Loury argues that incarceration rises even as crime rates fall because "we have become increasingly punitive." According to Loury, the "disproportionately black and brown" prison populations are the victims of civil rights "opponents" who successfully moved the country's race dialogue to a "seemingly race-neutral concern over crime." Loury's claims are well-supported with genuinely shocking statistics, and his argument is compelling that "even if the racial argument about causes is inconclusive, the racial consequences are clear." Three shorter essays respond: Stanford law professor Karlan examines prisoners as an "inert ballast" in redistricting and voting practices; French sociologist Wacquant argues that the focus on race has "ignored the fact that inmates are first and foremost poor people"; and Harvard philosophy professor Shelby urges citizens to "break with Washington's political outlook on race." The group's respectful sparring results in an insightful look at the conflicting theories of race and incarceration, and the slim volume keeps up the pace of the argument without being overwhelming. (Sept.)

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From the Publisher

Praise for The Anatomy of Racial
Inequality

"Intellectually rigorous and deeply thoughtful....
The Anatomy of Racial Inequality is an incisive, erudite book by a major thinker."--Gerald Early, New York Times Book Review

The MIT Press

"A penetrating look at the troubling trends in incarceration in the U.S.
and the broader impact on American society." Booklist

The MIT Press

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780262260947
Publisher:
MIT Press
Publication date:
09/30/2008
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Sales rank:
1,241,919
File size:
0 MB

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