Mass Incarceration As A Modern Racial Caste System

2006 words - 9 pages

Daniel Cedeno
In the wake of President Obama’s election, the United States seems to be progressing towards a post-racial society. However, the rates of mass incarceration of black males in America deem this to be otherwise. Understanding mass incarceration as a modern racial caste system will reveal the role of the criminal justice system in creating and perpetuating racial hierarchy America. The history of social control in the United States dates back to the first racial caste systems: slavery and the Jim Crow Laws. Although these caste systems were outlawed by the 13th amendment and Civil Rights Act respectively, they are given new life and tailored to the needs of the time.In other words, racial caste in America has not ended but has merely been redesigned in the shape of mass incarceration. Once again, the fact that more than half of the young black men in many large American cities are under the control of the criminal justice system show evidence of a new racial caste system at work. The structure of the criminal justice system brings a disproportionate number of young black males into prisons, relegating them to a permanent second-class status, and ensuring there chances of freedom are slim. Even when minorities are released from prisons, they are discriminated against and most usually end up back in prisons . The role of race in criminal justice system is set up to discriminate, arrest, and imprison a mass number of minority men. From stopping, searching, and arresting, to plea bargaining and sentencing it is apparent that in every phases of the criminal justice system race plays a huge factor. Race and structure of Criminal Justice System, also, inhibit the integration of ex offenders into society and instead of freedom, release from prison, starts new phase in social control. Furthermore, being stereotyped and “tagged” as criminals demonizes the black community and inhibits their chances of progression and success. Understading the structure of mass incarceration, the role of race in the Criminal Justice System, the role of systems in creating Social inequality, and the effects of mass incarceration will go a long way in dismantling America’s current caste sytem.
Mass incarceration produced by America’s Criminal Justice System is indeed a institutionalized inequality that has renewed race and class disadvantage. Mass incarceration has produced a new social group, a group of social outcasts who are joined by the shared experience of incarceration, crime, poverty, racial minority, and low education. As outcasts, this social group made up of mostly young black males are second class citizens and have little access social mobility. Like the Jim Crow Laws, mass incarceration implements discrimination against blacks by taking away their right to vote, limiting their ability to find employment, and constricting their housing options. These social and economic disadvantages, which are induced by incarceration are sustained over a...

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