Philosophy Ethnicity Studies Affirmative Action and Prison System Essay

For the second reflection assignment, please select both of the essays prompts below and produce a minimum of 4 page (double spaced) or 1,000 words essay. In writing your essay, you must use the course materials.

  • What are mass incarceration and the prison industrial complex? What factors lead to it, and how is it defined in the course. How can we address mass incarceration and the prison industrial complex?
  • What is affirmative action? According to the course materials, does it seek to hurt or assist racial/ethnic minorities? Is affirmative action effective? Why/why not? Please give detailed examples from the course materials. (500 words minimum)
    Wendy Leo Moore
    Texas A&M University
    In September of 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed Executive
    Order 11246, prohibiting discrimination on the basis of race, color,
    religion, sex, or national origin in federal public contracts. This executive
    order, in addition to prohibiting discrimination, called for federal
    contractors to “take affirmative action to ensure that applicants are
    employed, and that employees are treated during employment, without
    regard to race, color, sex or national origin.” The innocuous command of
    EO 11246, to act affirmatively to ensure people are treated equally,
    contrasts sharply with contemporary rhetoric concerning affirmative
    action. These two words have come to signify conflicting meanings
    concerning U.S. democracy and racial inequality; the mere mention of the
    term affirmative action can lead to heated and emotional debates
    including assertions of “unfair race-based privilege” or “reverse
    discrimination” (see Curry, 1996; Pierce, 2012).
    By the 1990s, the discourse surrounding affirmative action had shifted
    from one about discrimination and equality to one about White innocence
    and injury resulting from the hiring of unqualified people of color. Pierce
    (2012) notes that throughout the 1990s, media stories slanted against
    affirmative action were much more common than stories in support of
    affirmative action—as many as 3:1 tilted against affirmative action (p. 35).
    In January of 1994, the topic of affirmative action made the cover story of
    Business Week, where the issue was titled “White, Male and Worried,”
    and the July 1995 Newsweek cover read “Race and Rage” (Pierce, 2012,
    p. 27). The discursive framing of affirmative action had shifted
    dramatically from the frame constructed by President Johnson in 1965.
    The sentiment is summed up by a 2011 blogger on who responded to a question about opinions of
    affirmative action by saying, “I don’t agree with hiring someone who may
    or may not be less qualified than someone else just because their race
    needs to be represented better”1 (see also Bonilla-Silva, 2009; Moore,
    2008). To understand this debate and also the context of President
    Johnson’s command for affirmative action, it is necessary to journey into
    the history of race and government action.
    Most of the informed public is aware of the history of racialized slavery in
    the United States, the institution through which Blackness became a
    justification for the enslavement of people of African descent (see Harris,
    1993). During the centuries of slavery in this country, race and class
    converged as people of color were prohibited from access to resources
    such as education, property, and political rights. As Cheryl Harris (1993)
    suggests, the economic interests of Whites were so integral to the law
    and politics of the United States that Whiteness itself was valued by the
    government like a form of property. Initially, this occurred through explicit
    legal and political policies concerning who had the right to own property
    (Whites), who did not (American Indians), and who became the object of
    property (Blacks). However, for at least 100 years after the end of
    slavery, U.S. law and social policy continued to overtly and explicitly
    privilege the economic interests of Whites, perpetuating the material
    value of Whiteness.
    The end of racialized slavery did not mean the end of systematic racial
    oppression. After the Civil War, Southern states immediately enacted
    laws, such as those making vagrancy or joblessness a crime, which
    forced Blacks back into exploitative economic relations (Du Bois, 2001;
    Woodward, 2002). A new economic system, based on tenant farming,
    sharecropping, and a convict-lease system, combined with legally
    mandated segregation, supported by the Supreme Court in the 1896
    case of Plessy v. Ferguson, resulted in a racial order that was not
    meaningfully different from slavery (Woodward, 2002). Within this social
    and historical context begins the real story of a legacy of affirmative
    action for Whites—that is, affirmative government action taken to protect
    and stabilize the economic conditions of White people during times of
    economic disruption.
    At the end of the 1920s, the world experienced a severe economic
    depression. Millions of Americans were thrown into joblessness and
    poverty. The widespread suffering caused by the Great Depression led to
    support for massive government intervention. In the 1930s, President
    Franklin D. Roosevelt proposed and signed into law a series of legislative
    initiatives designed to ease economic suffering. Roosevelt’s New Deal
    legislation created federally funded unemployment insurance, public
    assistance for the poor, old age pensions, and work relief for the
    unemployed, and injected federal funds into severely depressed local
    economies (Takaki, 2008). These programs were the most extensive
    government economic aid interventions in the history of the United
    States, and they helped end the severe economic depression. Yet, to
    secure the Southern votes necessary to enact the New Deal legislation,
    Southern states required that terms be implemented to ensure that these
    policies would not disrupt the racial status quo of Jim Crow (Katznelson,
    Three mechanisms allowed Whites to benefit from government economic
    assistance while Blacks were excluded (Katznelson, 2005, pp. 22–23).
    First, work-related policies such as unemployment and social security
    were constructed to leave out as many Blacks as possible through
    racially coded definitions of work. New Deal employment-related policies
    excluded individuals employed in farm-related or domestic-labor jobs.
    Nationwide, in the 1930s, 60% of Blacks were employed in these sectors;
    in the South, that figure was 75%. Thus, the vast majority of Black
    workers were excluded from all the federal employment assistance
    programs. The second mechanism that functioned to exclude Blacks
    from federal benefits was the placement of the administration of federal
    funds in the hands of local officials. In the South, this resulted in
    widespread racial discrimination in the implementation of these programs
    and the enactment of explicitly racist policies at the local level; the level
    of poverty required to qualify for financial aid was set much lower for
    Blacks than for Whites (see Katznelson, 2005, p. 37). And finally,
    Southern House and Senate members resoundingly rejected the
    attachment of antidiscrimination provisions to the legislation. The lack of
    antidiscrimination measures in the New Deal bills facilitated Southern
    states’ segregation and racist policies with regard to the administration of
    federal aid programs, leaving no recourse for Blacks denied federal
    assistance by local administrators.
    The New Deal “combined unprecedented [levels of government]
    assistantship with racist policies,” the result of which was a program of
    affirmative government action created to end economic suffering largely
    for Whites only (Katznelson, 2005, p. 29). But the New Deal policies were
    not the end of affirmative action for Whites. During and after World War
    II, economic shifts led to more government actions to stabilize the
    economy. When the United States entered World War II, there was an
    immediate need for military to fight in the war effort. Many White men left
    their jobs to join the military (or were drafted), which resulted in a
    shortage of workers in Northern industrial jobs. Blacks faced widespread
    discrimination in the military, either through complete exclusion from
    service or, when they were allowed to serve, exclusion from advanced
    military training programs necessary for skilled positions (Katznelson,
    2005; Takaki, 2008). By contrast, employers with labor shortages
    engaged in a campaign to recruit Black workers to take positions from
    which Blacks had previously been excluded. These new job
    opportunities, on the one hand, and the desire to escape the racist
    violence of the South on the other, facilitated an unprecedented migration
    of Blacks from the rural South to the urban North (Massey & Denton,
    1993). Unfortunately, however, these jobs were not permanent. At the
    end of World War II, when White men returned from military service,
    many Blacks lost the jobs they had been recruited for.
    At the same time, a widespread housing shortage and desire to ensure
    postwar economic stability led the federal government, at the end of
    World War II, to enact the Selective Service Readjustment Act, widely
    known as the GI Bill. The GI Bill assisted veterans with buying homes,
    attending college, getting loans to start up small businesses, and finding
    skill-appropriate jobs. Many young veterans, most of them White, used
    these government services and as a result were able to move into the
    middle class (Katznelson, 2005; Massey & Denton, 1993). As well, the GI
    Bill, in combination with the construction of the Federal Housing
    Authority, which provided government subsidies enabling Americans to
    secure loans to purchase homes without huge down payments, facilitated
    a boom in homeownership, the result of which was the largest swelling of
    the middle class in U.S. history (Massey & Denton, 1993). However,
    repeating a history of White economic advantage, the boom in the middle
    class occurred disproportionately for Whites. The majority of Blacks were
    shut out through explicit discrimination in the implementation of the GI
    Bill, which like the New Deal programs took place at the local level, as
    well as through policies of discriminatory lending and racial segregation.
    Black veterans wishing to access the education assistance of the GI Bill
    found that there were not enough spaces for them in Black educational
    institutions, but they were excluded from White institutions in the South
    completely and Northern schools allowed only a small number of nonWhite applicants each year. In 1947, 20,000 Black veterans eligible for GI
    Bill education assistance could not find schools to attend because Black
    colleges and vocational schools were filled (Katznelson, 2005, p. 133).
    Blacks, veterans, and nonveterans wishing to purchase homes were
    excluded in two ways. First, many Blacks faced explicit discrimination
    from local administrators of the GI Bill, as well as from banks, so they
    were not able to secure loans to purchase homes. Second, residential
    segregation and lending policies often meant that even those who could
    qualify for loans could not find neighborhoods where they could purchase
    homes. White neighborhoods were off limits to Blacks through legal
    instruments such as racially restrictive covenants and government
    policies that favored segregation, so they could not secure loans for
    houses in these White neighborhoods (Massey & Denton, 1993). Black
    neighborhoods were in a state of economic crisis—resulting mainly from
    the massive loss of employment that occurred as Blacks were displaced
    from jobs they had been recruited for when White men returned from
    military service. The result of the poverty and economic instability in
    these neighborhoods meant that banks could “redline” Black
    neighborhoods, which literally meant that these neighborhoods had red
    lines across them on maps, signifying they were ineligible for federally
    secured housing loans (Massey & Denton, 1993).
    Katznelson (2005) notes, “There was no greater instrument for widening
    an already huge racial gap than the G.I. Bill” (p. 121). The reason for the
    widening economic gap was not just racial discrimination against Blacks,
    which was nothing new, but instead was a result of the widespread
    upward mobility of huge numbers of Whites resulting from affirmative
    government actions to facilitate their economic security and growth.
    Thus, affirmative government actions resulted in the racially unjust
    enrichment of Whites and corresponding unjust impoverishment of
    Blacks (see Feagin, 2010, p. 10).
    It was within this context on June 4, 1965, only months before President
    Johnson issued Executive Order 11246, that he called for affirmative
    government action to create equality in his speech “To Fulfill These
    Rights” at Howard University. Acknowledging the connection between
    racial inequality and government action, Johnson said
    You do not take a person who, for years, has been hobbled by
    chains and liberate him, bring him up to the starting line of a race
    and then say, “you are free to compete with all the others,” and
    still justly believe that you have been completely fair . . . [E]qual
    opportunity is essential, but not enough, not enough. Men and
    women of all races are born with the same range of abilities. But
    ability is not just the product of birth. Ability is stretched or stunted
    by the family that you live with, and the neighborhood you live in
    —by the school you go to and the poverty or the richness of your
    The U.S. government, which had for centuries acted affirmatively to
    create economic stability and prosperity for Whites, would now have to
    act not merely passively by no longer permitting racial discrimination but
    affirmatively again to correct the structural racial inequalities resulting
    from centuries of racial discrimination.
    Although President Johnson articulated a government obligation to take
    affirmative steps beyond just ending discrimination to create economic
    security for Blacks, Johnson’s view of affirmative action never came to
    pass. There occurred a political backlash against affirmative action, one
    that has been virulent and pervasive throughout the decades since
    Johnson’s speech. Rhetorical assertions of the supposed unfairness of
    unqualified minorities’ gaining access to jobs that should go to Whites as
    a result of quotas, as illustrated in the introduction to this chapter, have
    guided that backlash into a frenzied attack on the idea of affirmative
    action (Pierce, 2012). What is particularly confounding about this antiaffirmative action sentiment is that U.S. law does not permit quotas as
    part of affirmative action programs. In fact, the language of Title VII of the
    1964 Civil Rights Act that prohibited racial discrimination in employment
    also explicitly prohibits quota-type systems. Section 703(j), titled
    “Preferential treatment not to be granted on account of existing number
    or percentage imbalance,” specifies that
    nothing contained in [this subchapter on nondiscrimination in
    employment] shall be interpreted to require any employer . . . to
    grant preferential treatment to any individual or to any group
    because of the race, color, religion, sex, or national origin of such
    individual or group on account of an imbalance which may exist
    with respect to the total number or percentage . . . employed by
    any employer.
    Moreover, in 1978, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled definitively on the issue
    of quotas in the case of The Regents of the University of California v.
    Bakke, outlawing quota systems, even as a remedy for historical
    discrimination, in higher education admissions (Greene, 1989).
    Rigid quotas were never legal, and there was never an intention to create
    a system of affirmative action employing such a method. What affirmative
    action was, then, was a system of laws and policies designed to allow
    educational institutions and businesses to take into consideration the
    social consequences of racial inequality when making decisions about
    equally qualified candidates in school admissions and employment.
    Affirmative action occurred in two ways in employment. First, private
    (nongovernment) employers were legally able to enact voluntary
    affirmative action programs as part of a program to increase their
    numbers of underrepresented groups, including racial minorities (see
    Greene, 1989; Pierce, 2012; Reskin, 1998). The types of voluntary
    affirmative action programs employers could enact ranged from
    advertising in news outlets catering to people of color to recruiting from
    schools that are predominantly of color to giving preference to an equally
    qualified candidate for hire or promotion because the person was a
    member of a group underrepresented in the institution (Greene, 1989).
    Note, however, that when private businesses choose to implement
    voluntary affirmative action plans that include giving preference to
    underrepresented groups in hiring and promotion decisions, they must
    take on the heavy burden of documenting that their business does in fact
    have an underrepresentation (this must include statistical demonstration)
    and that their race-conscious employment decisions are based only on
    otherwise equally qualified candidates and will remain only until the
    underrepresentation is remedied (Greene, 1989). The burden of this
    requirement is one reason many businesses do not implement this form
    of affirmative action (as opposed to purely recruiting programs).
    The second labor market arena in which affirmative action–based
    programs take place is in federal contract compliance. Federal agencies
    and employers who hold federal contracts in excess of $50,000 must
    demonstrate that they are “affirmative action compliant,” which means
    that they are taking positive steps to increase racial equality in their
    organizations (Greene, 1989; Pierce, 2012). To be compliant with this
    regulation, businesses must illustrate that they are making a “good faith”
    effort to recruit underrepresented minorities (they need not actually
    recruit underrepresented minorities, only show a good faith effort).
    Although President Johnson conceived of an affirmative action program
    that would set aside a percentage of government contracts (10% to be
    exact) for qualified minority-owned businesses (businesses whose
    ownership was at least 50% racial minorities), the U.S. Supreme Court
    rejected that program as unconstitutional, first prohibiting state
    government set-asides in the 1989 City of Richmond v. J. A. Croson Co.
    case, then federal contract set-asides in the 1995 Adarand Constructors,
    Inc. v. Peña case. Thus, even this limited attempt at redistribution of
    government resources to remedy racial inequalities was declared
    There is one other area of government policy that has sometimes
    mistakenly been considered affirmative action; it is not actually affirmative
    action at all but antidiscrimination enforcement. The enactment of the civil
    rights legislation of the 1960s, which prohibited discrimination on the
    basis of race in U.S. institutions and organizations such as education and
    employment, was met with resistance, particularly in the South. For
    example, in 1972 the Alabama Department of Public Safety was held to
    have engaged in “egregious discrimination” by systematically excluding
    Blacks from employment and promotion among state troopers. After the
    initial finding of discrimination, the department failed to enact remedies to
    correct the discrimination, particularly in the promotion of Black
    employees. As a result, in 1981 the court ordered that the department
    promote one Black trooper for every White trooper promoted until the
    systematic discrimination was remedied (see United States v. Paradise,
    1987). Court orders such as this one may be a source for the myth that
    affirmative action means quotas and “reverse discrimination”; yet these
    remedies were not affirmative action but punitive court-ordered sanctions
    for failing to comply with antidiscrimination laws.
    Racial inequality continues to organize U.S. society today, as it did before
    the civil rights movement. The inequalities in wealth resulting from the
    housing boom experienced by Whites post–World War II, which largely
    excluded people of color, has left us with extreme and pervasive racial
    inequalities in wealth (Massey & Denton, 1993; Oliver & Shapiro, 2006).
    In 2011, the census reports that the median net worth (total assets minus
    total debt) of White, non-Hispanic families was $110,500, whereas the
    median wealth of non-White and Hispanic families was $41,408.2 These
    figures, because they compare Whites to all non-Whites, obscure the
    disparities between White and Black families; the Pew Research Center
    reported that in 2014, White family wealth had declined (possibly due to
    the housing crisis) to a median of $144,200, but median family wealth for
    Blacks in 2014 was only $11,200.3 This difference in wealth, as Melvin
    Oliver and Thomas Shapiro (2006) explain, means differential access to
    equity, which may be used for such things as collateral for education or
    small-business loans and a cushion during times of economic recession.
    Blacks and other people of color do not have the same access to these
    resources as Whites, and this is largely the structural result of wealth
    disparities solidified post–World War II.
    Wealth inequality is distinct from inequality in income and employment. In
    2009, 11.3% of Black families made less than $10,000 per year,
    compared with 4.2% of White families. On the opposite end of the
    spectrum, among families that made between $100,000 and $149,999
    per year, 15.7% of White families were represented and only 8.1% of
    Black families (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2011).
    This can be partially explained by the fact that Blacks remain
    overrepresented in unskilled labor. As Bonilla-Silva (2013) notes, in
    managerial and professional occupations, we find “35.43 percent of white
    males and 40.64 percent of white females, compared to 21.65 percent of
    black males and 31 percent of black females” (p. 55), whereas in servicerelated occupations, we find “20.23 percent of black males and 26.39
    percent of black females compared to 10.85 percent of white males and
    17.03 percent of white females” (pp. 55–56). Although much of this
    inequality can be linked to inequalities in education, researchers also
    continue to find persistent patterns of racial discrimination in employment
    (see, e.g., Bendick, Jackson, Reinoso, & Hodges, 1991; Pager, 2003).
    Thus, affirmative action—as a policy originated to remedy the unjust
    enrichment of Whites and unjust impoverishment of people of color
    resulting from years of government-sponsored racial discrimination—has
    widely failed. Although exceptional individual Blacks and other Americans
    of color have probably benefited from affirmative action programs (and it
    is hard to know what portion of the benefit is a result of nondiscrimination,
    as opposed to true affirmative action programs), these programs have
    failed to change the inequalities in the racial social structure. Moreover, a
    1995 study conducted by the U.S. Department of Labor revealed that of
    the 300 cases filed by Whites against employers for so-called “reverse
    discrimination,” only six cases were found to have been unlawfully based
    on race. The rest of the cases involved erroneous assumptions, on the
    part of Whites who did not receive jobs or promotions, that affirmative
    action was used to give less-qualified minorities the position (Pierce,
    2012, p. 39). Thus, much of the vehement criticism and debate
    concerning “reverse discrimination” and preferences for undeserving or
    unqualified minorities is simply factually inaccurate.
    Given that quotas, as well as all allocation programs that consider racial
    demographics in any meaningful way, have been declared illegal, it is
    curious that the rhetoric of quotas and reverse racism persists. Even
    more curious is the continued persistence of heated and emotional
    debates concerning affirmative action in the face of its clear failure to
    affect structural racial inequality. Sociologist Jennifer L. Pierce (2012)
    notes that the notion of reverse discrimination against victimized Whites
    became part of a dominant narrative in the post–civil rights era and thus
    became a “broader cultural memory” (p. 3). The cultural memory of the
    victimization of Whites by affirmative action supplanted our memory of a
    legacy of affirmative government action for Whites and President
    Johnson’s comment that equal opportunity was not enough to remedy the
    resulting racial inequality. Because of that shift in cultural memory,
    Whites massively rejected and resisted affirmative action (as well as
    antidiscrimination laws), and the result is that affirmative action has been
    a bust as a policy.
    This process is an example of what Joe R. Feagin (2006) has called
    “White racial framing.” The White racial frame can be defined as “an
    organized set of racialized ideas, emotions, and inclinations, as well as
    recurring or habitual discriminatory actions, that are consciously or
    unconsciously expressed in, and constitutive of the routine operation and
    racist institutions of US society” (p. 23). This frame facilitates the
    development of a cultural memory of (false) White victimization and the
    collective forgetting of a legacy of (true) racial advantage for Whites and
    oppression of people of color. If we were to reject the White racial frame
    and reframe the debate about affirmative action in the context of the
    structural reality that President Johnson emphasized in his Howard
    speech, we could create a new and more accurate argument concerning
    affirmative action: Racially conscious affirmative action is necessary for
    democracy and the assessment of individuals based solely on their merit.
    Historical and current racial conditions provide Whites with unfair
    advantages in the form of access to resources that have been denied to
    people of color. To prevent Whites from feeling inferior because their
    successes are not based on merit alone, but instead stem from unearned
    privilege, we must institute affirmative action programs that correct for
    structural racial differences and racial oppression. This will result in a
    better system of evaluation of the talents and contributions of all
    individuals based on their relative access to resources.
    Wendy Leo Moore is an associate professor of sociology at
    Texas A&M University and the author of the award-winning 2007
    book Reproducing Racism: White Space, Elite Law Schools, and
    Racial Inequality, published by Rowman & Littlefield. Her research
    focuses on the intersections of race and law.
    1. What is your opinion of affirmative action, and has the lecture had an
    effect on you? 119 Blog. (2011, February 23). World Conversation
    Project. Retrieved June 9, 2012, from
    2. See
    3. See
    Suggested Additional Resources
    Feagin, J. R. (2006). The White racial frame. New York, NY:
    McIntosh, P. (2003). White privilege: Unpacking the invisible
    knapsack. In S. Plous (Ed.), Understanding prejudice and
    discrimination (pp. 191–196). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.
    Pierce, J. (2012). Racing for innocence: Whiteness, gender, and
    the backlash against affirmative action. Stanford, CA: Stanford
    University Press.
    Reskin, B. (1998). The realities of affirmative action in
    employment. Washington, DC: American Sociological Association.
    Wise, T. (2005). Affirmative action: Racial preference in Black and
    White. New York, NY: Routledge.
    African American Policy Forum:
    American Association for Access, Equity, and Diversity:
    American Civil Liberties Union:
    Americans for a Fair Chance:
    U.S. Department of Labor:
    1. Watch the YouTube video titled “Unequal Opportunity Race,”
    created by the African American Policy Forum
    ( Talk
    about the elements of structural racism visually presented in
    the video and the discussions about material inequality
    presented in this chapter. What role, if any, should
    government play in the dismantling of racial inequality? Does
    it matter that government policies facilitated the creation of
    racial inequality?
    2. What do you think of the counterframe presented at the end of
    this chapter? Would merit be more accurately evaluated if we
    considered people’s accomplishments in relation to their
    access to differential resources?
    3. Given that quotas and the hiring of less-qualified people of
    color over more-qualified Whites is not legal affirmative action,
    why do you think the myth of quotas has had such staying
    4. How do you think the current myths about affirmative action
    affect the experiences of people of color who are presumed to
    be in institutions (employment and education) as a result of
    affirmative action and not their qualifications?
    5. In a democracy, what is the relevance of racial inequality, or
    conversely, does a democracy require a commitment to some
    level of racial equality?
    Reaching Beyond the Color Line
    1. Imagine that you are the chief human resources officer for a
    major company in a diverse city and your board has asked
    you to develop a diversity plan to ensure that the company is
    truly providing equal opportunities to the community in which
    it is located. Using the materials you’ve learned from this
    reading, develop a diversity plan for the company that
    considers the following:
    Recruiting (i.e., where will you advertise for your hires or
    go to locate your workforce?)
    Hiring (i.e., how will individual applicants be evaluated in
    the hiring process?)
    Retention (i.e., what kinds of steps will you take to ensure
    that people from different backgrounds feel welcome in
    your company?)
    Promotion (i.e., what kinds of trainings or opportunities
    for promotion will you implement so people from diverse
    backgrounds will rise to positions of experience and
    Adarand Constructors, Inc. v. Pena, 515 U.S. 200 (1995).
    Bendick, M., Jackson, C. W., Reinoso, V. A., & Hodges, L. E. (1991).
    Discrimination against Latino job applicants: A controlled experiment.
    Human Resource Management, 30(4), 469–484.
    Bonilla-Silva, E. (2009). Racism without racists (3rd ed.). Lanham, MD:
    Rowman & Littlefield.
    Bonilla-Silva, E. (2013). Racism without racists (4th ed.). Lanham, MD:
    Rowman & Littlefield.
    City of Richmond v. J. A. Croson Co., 488 U.S. 469 (1989).
    Curry, G. (Ed.). (1996). The affirmative action debate. Reading, MA:
    Du Bois, W. E. B. (2001). The spawn of slavery: The convict lease
    system in the South. In S. Gabbidon, H. Greene, & V. Young (Eds.),
    African American classics criminology and criminal justice (pp. 83–88).
    Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
    Feagin, J. R. (2006). The White racial frame. New York, NY: Routledge.
    Feagin, J. R. (2010). Racist America (2nd ed.). New York, NY:
    Greene, K. (1989). Affirmative action and principles of justice. New York,
    NY: Greenwood Press.
    Harris, C. (1993). Whiteness as property. Harvard Law Review, 106(8),
    Johnson, L. B. (1965, June 4). “To fulfill these rights.” Commencement
    address at Howard University, Washington, DC. Retrieved from
    Katznelson, I. (2005). When affirmative action was White: An untold
    history of racial inequality in twentieth-century America. New York, NY:
    W. W. Norton.
    Massey, D., & Denton, N. (1993). American apartheid: Segregation and
    the making of the underclass. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University
    Moore, W. L. (2008). Reproducing racism: White space, elite law schools
    and racial inequality. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.
    Oliver, M., & Shapiro, T. (2006). Black wealth/White wealth: A new
    perspective on racial inequality. New York, NY: Routledge.
    Pager, D. (2003). The mark of a criminal record. American Journal of
    Sociology, 108, 937–975.
    Pierce, J. L. (2012). Racing for innocence: Whiteness, gender, and the
    backlash against affirmative action. Stanford, CA: Stanford University
    Plessy v. Ferguson, 163 U.S. 537 (1896).
    Reskin, B. (1998). The realities of affirmative action in employment.
    Washington, DC: American Sociological Association.
    Takaki, R. (2008). A different mirror (Rev. ed.). New York, NY: Bay Back
    The Regents of the University of California v. Bakke, 438 U.S. 265
    United States v. Paradise, 480 U.S. 149 (1987).
    U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2011, August). Labor force
    characteristics by race and ethnicity, 2010. Washington, DC: U.S.
    Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics. Retrieved from
    Woodward, C. V. (2002). The strange career of Jim Crow. New York, NY:
    Oxford University Press.
    Sara Buck Doude
    Georgia College
    When discussing race in relation to crime, students often focus on a few
    observations to support their idea that racism ended with the civil rights
    movement and that therefore the criminal justice system is without racial
    bias. Each semester, I ask criminology students to anonymously write
    down their picture of the typical criminal. Responses vary. Often, recently
    publicized crime stories come to mind, such as the 2012 mass shooting
    at a screening of The Dark Knight Rises in Colorado or the Sandy Hook
    Elementary School tragedy in Connecticut. However, the general picture
    of a criminal is a young Black male who, in the process of drug dealing or
    gang banging, commits murder via drive-by shooting. Recent examples
    from this assignment reveal that students’ perceptions are veiled in
    stereotypes associated with Black males. For example, one student
    writes “hooded male with baggy clothes.” Another student writes “thugs,”
    while another writes “Black male, sweatpants, and hoodie” (for further
    discussion on race and perception, see Ray in this volume). Although this
    is anecdotal evidence, I have received these types of responses over the
    course of many years of teaching criminology.
    Generally, students do not recognize racial disparities in those arrested
    and convicted of crimes until they are pointed out through this
    assignment. They may recognize this perception subconsciously but do
    not acknowledge it until they have to write or verbalize their picture of the
    typical criminal. When and if they do recognize such disparities, they
    argue that they aren’t due to racism, because the justice system is colorblind and racism isn’t as bad today as it was in the past. As Rose M.
    Brewer and Nancy A. Heitzeg (2012b) argue, for many, “the issue then is
    crime, not race, and certainly not racism” (p. 383). Thus, many look at the
    “personal responsibility” involved in those who commit crime, rather than
    at a racially biased justice system. Others make group-based arguments,
    but about the culture of the perceived criminals and not about the system
    —that it just so happens certain groups of people (specifically Black
    males) are crime-prone, have bad values, and choose to commit crimes.
    The possibility that racism is institutionalized in the justice system is met
    with deep hostility. If students consider such a fact, they propose that
    there may be racist individuals among those enforcing laws but the legal
    system itself is not a racist entity. Student responses to these questions
    are a reflection of social perceptions of crime and criminals, and research
    reveals that this is not a recent phenomenon.
    According to Katheryn K. Russell (1996), “‘race and crime’ is almost
    always a negative referent for ‘Blacks and crime’” (p. 595). Analysis of
    race and crime coverage in media has been extensively studied (e.g.,
    Feagin, 2000; Loury, 2008; Rome, 2006; Tonry, 1995; Western, 2006).
    Britto and Dabney’s (2010) analysis of three political talk shows on cable
    television reveals that people of color were presented as offenders nearly
    10 times more frequently than they were presented as victims and were
    7.5 times more likely to be shown as evil, compared with Whites (pp.
    210–211). However, when White violent offenders—such as mass
    shooters, who are predominately White males—are discussed, they are
    presented as mentally ill and coming from good families and
    neighborhoods (see, e.g., media coverage regarding The Dark Knight
    Rises and Sandy Hook shooters; Mingus & Zopf, 2010). Meanwhile,
    people of color—specifically Black Americans—who commit crimes are
    presented as having bad values and no role models, as coming from bad
    families, and as living in bad neighborhoods (read: urban inner city).
    These portrayals heighten fear of crime in neighborhoods with higher
    proportions of non-Whites and those perceived to have Blacks or Latinos
    living nearby (Chiricos, McEntire, & Gertz, 2001). These messages are
    absorbed by the public through the media, which has a horrid history of
    portraying the typical criminal as a person of color (more specifically, a
    Black man) with White female victims—a stereotypical portrayal that is
    not consistent with offending and victimization data (Britto & Dabney,
    Incarceration data also support this perception of the Black criminal.
    State prisons house disproportionately poor, uneducated Black men
    (Loury, 2008; Western, 2006). About two thirds of all inmates are serving
    time for drug and property offenses, while one third are serving time for
    violent crimes (Loury, 2008). When analyzing the ratios of incarceration,
    Black men are imprisoned at seven times the rate of White men, and
    Black women are imprisoned at three times the rate of White women
    (Guerino, Harrison, & Sabol, 2012).
    How should we interpret the overrepresentation of Blacks in crime
    statistics? As Loury (2008) argues, “the nation’s social policy—intimately
    connected with public rhetoric about responsibility, dependency, social
    hygiene, and the reclamation of public order—can be fully grasped only
    when viewed against the backdrop of America’s often ugly and violent
    racial history” (p. 11).
    Throughout American history, the behavior of Black men has been strictly
    policed through both formal (e.g., the criminal justice system) and
    informal (e.g., vigilantism) social control and for the purposes of
    maintaining a White patriarchal society. We can see this most specifically
    when we look at the crime of rape. As Susan Brownmiller (1975) states,
    “The White man has used the rape of ‘his’ women as an excuse to act
    against Black men” (p. 255). Prior to the mid-1900s, in cases of rape
    when the offender was Black and the victim was White, White male juries
    and judges assumed that a White woman would not consent to sexual
    relations with a Black man (Allison & Wrightsman, 1993; Estrich, 1987).
    Ample historical evidence has shown, however, that rapes of White
    women committed by Black men were very rare and often fabricated by
    Whites as an excuse to lynch a Black man, where this “explanation” was
    frequently applied after the alleged assailant had already faced a horrific
    death at the hands of White mobs (Chasteen, 1998). Lynchable offenses
    related to rape included “whistling at a White woman, entering a White
    woman’s home or talking ‘inappropriately’ around White women” (p. 30).
    Historically, Black men were more likely to serve a heavier sentence for
    rape, which is still the case today. In addition, Black men were more likely
    than White men to be executed by the state or lynched if they raped a
    White woman or were merely suspected of doing so. Punishment during
    the colonial South was especially harsh. In Virginia, the punishment for a
    slave who raped a White woman was dismemberment. Indeed, a Black
    man raping a White woman was perceived as the “ultimate purpose of
    the slaves’ revenge” (Brownmiller, 1975, p. 237), where Black men were
    perceived as being determined to get back at White men for a variety of
    injustices by raping “their” White women (see also Chasteen, 1998). After
    slavery, the lynching of Black men increased as Whites sought new ways
    to police the behavior of Black men in the absence of institutionalized
    Black men have felt the brunt of the vigilante justice system as well as
    the criminal justice system throughout the history of the United States; at
    many points in history, these two systems were one and the same. The
    perception of the criminality of the Black male still prevails with the
    stereotype of the Black rapist and has subsequently transformed into the
    Black criminal or drug dealer. This perception has been accepted by
    governmental agencies and the public, specifically the White public.
    The criminal stereotype has fallen squarely on young African American
    men, the repercussions of which are deadly. It prevails in American
    history and popular culture and was a possible contributing factor in the
    2012 shooting death of unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin and many
    others since, including Philando Castile and Alton Brown. Since 2012,
    police use of force and shootings of unarmed Black men have flooded
    the media. In many of these incidents, cell-phone video captured officers
    shooting men in the back or shooting as they reached for their wallets
    while sitting in their cars, among many other encounters. The Federal
    Bureau of Investigation (FBI) 2014 Uniform Crime Report (UCR)
    supplementary homicide data show that 31.8% of individuals shot by the
    police were African American. Indeed, Blacks are overrepresented given
    their smaller population in comparison with Whites (Guardian, 2016). This
    has created a national conversation on race and the criminal justice
    system, which acknowledges that the system is experienced in a very
    different way depending on one’s race. After the shooting of Trayvon
    Martin and the acquittal of his shooter, the media began to question the
    notion of an equal justice system. The existence of structural racism and
    subconscious bias in the criminal justice system began to be seen as a
    possible contributor to the overcriminalization of Black men prior to and
    during arrest (where use of force is a distinct possibility) and during the
    sentencing process.
    From the fear of the Black rapist, the stereotype of the Black criminal as a
    drug dealer or a violent criminal has evolved. It has yet to be determined
    as a cause or an effect in relation to, say, racial hoaxes, although
    correlations exist. A racial hoax is the accusation that a person of color
    committed a crime—usually murder, rape, or assault—when in fact the
    crime was committed by the one making the accusation, usually a White
    person (Russell, 1996, 2009). The Black male criminal stereotype is thus
    used as a method to hide the real crime (Russell, 2009), usually a violent
    crime. Examples of racial hoaxes include Susan Smith’s 1994 claim that
    a Black male carjacked her and fled with her two children, when in fact
    she had killed her two children. In a more recent example, in 2016, a
    New York firefighter was charged with second-degree arson for burning
    down his own house. He claimed that the supporters of the Black Lives
    Matter movement set it aflame and graffitied “Lie with pigs, fry like bacon”
    in response to a Blue Lives Matter flag hanging in his yard (CBS News,
    2016). These hoaxes are ultimately believable because Americans’
    perceptions of crime include the criminal having a Black face.
    Another way we see this is through racial profiling. Racial profiling is the
    use of race in conjunction with the profile of a criminal suspect. It
    encompasses many activities, such as “driving while Black,” wherein
    drivers are stopped because of their race and not because of illegal
    activity. The term racial profiling didn’t become a part of the lexicon until
    1994, when minority drivers were subject to a disproportionate number of
    stops, searches, and arrests along the New Jersey Turnpike (Withrow &
    Dailey, 2012). Stopping someone exclusively based on race is
    discrimination, yet it is often difficult to ascertain if race is the determinant
    for a traffic stop. For a stop or arrest to be legal, race must be only one of
    several descriptors of an individual suspect. Race and other factors
    constitute “reasonable suspicion,” which is cause for a lawful stop
    (Walker, Spohn, & DeLone, 2007; Withrow & Dailey, 2012). That is, if a
    tall young Black man committed robbery in a red T-shirt and drove away
    in a red car, stopping all Black men in the area not fitting the rest of that
    description would be illegal according to the U.S. Supreme Court
    (Withrow & Dailey, 2012).
    Racial profiling has primarily occurred in the context of the war on drugs,
    which has come to be interpreted as a war on Black Americans
    (Tomaskovic-Devey & Warren, 2009; Withrow & Dailey, 2012).
    Tomaskovic-Devey and Warren (2009) describe the Drug Enforcement
    Administration’s Operation Pipeline, which began in 1984. Officers were
    trained to recognize profiles of drug couriers, which included drivers who
    didn’t “fit” their cars (i.e., drivers in cars that appeared to be above their
    economic means), drivers with dark skin, drivers who wore gold jewelry,
    and drivers belonging to racial groups involved in the drug trade. Thus,
    racial profiling became a practice endorsed by the federal government.
    Further, the Department of Justice (DOJ) has insisted that racial profiling
    is a more effective strategy to control crime than random stops
    (Tomaskovic-Devey & Warren, 2009). Withrow and Dailey (2012)
    elaborate on this practice along the New Jersey Turnpike: “More than
    250 troopers are assigned to patrol this stretch of highway. Most of them
    . . . are heavily influenced by intelligence reports of the U.S. Drug
    Enforcement Agency indicating the increased probability that racial and
    ethnic minorities are drug couriers” (pp. 134–135). This profile is a
    contributor to the overrepresentation of Black men in state and federal
    prison systems for drug-related crimes. Indeed, Tonry (1995) argues that
    “urban Black Americans have borne the brunt of the War on Drugs” and
    “the recent Blackening of America’s prison population is the product of
    malign neglect of the war’s effects on Black Americans” (p. 105).
    Allegations of racial profiling have led to lawsuits involving traffic stops in
    the states of New Jersey and Maryland (Walker et al., 2007; Withrow &
    Dailey, 2012). More recently, research from Philadelphia and New York
    City law enforcement agencies has found that people of color are
    stopped and frisked at far higher rates than Whites (Buettner &
    Glaberson, 2012). Stop and frisks, or Terry stops, occur when police
    officers stop and detain individuals for a short period of time. Stops are
    based on reasonable suspicion, and officers are required to articulate the
    suspicion for said search, or the suspicion that someone is breaking the
    law, has likely committed a crime, or is in the process of committing a
    crime (Withrow & Dailey, 2012; again, see Ray in this volume). Police are
    required to have reasonable suspicion that a person is about to or has
    just committed a penal code violation before stopping that person
    (Goldstein, 2012). However, what constitutes reasonable suspicion is
    highly subjective, which causes much disagreement in the courts.
    The New York Police Department’s (NYPD’s) stop-and-frisk policy led to
    685,724 stops in 2011, of which people of color represented more than
    80%, despite the fact that they represent only about half of the New York
    City population. Only 1.9% of those stops resulted in a weapon
    confiscation, and Whites were more likely to possess a weapon. Young
    people of color experienced more than 40% of the stops, despite being
    only 4.7% of the city’s population. Shockingly, young Black men were
    stopped 168,124 times, which exceeded the population of 158,406 young
    Black men in the city (Baker, 2012). Some were likely stopped more than
    once. In the August 2013 ruling on the constitutionality of the policy, U.S.
    District Court judge Shira A. Scheindlin asserted that the policy was
    unconstitutional and in violation of protections provided by the Fourth and
    Fourteenth Amendments.1
    Coining the term indirect racial profiling, she explained how the
    department’s reliance on data indicating that Black men committed a
    disproportionate amount of crime amounted to a constitutional violation
    (Goldstein, 2013). Her decision was partially based on a commander’s
    testimony on the “right people” to stop, in which he was specifically
    referring to people of color. The NYPD defended this policy by asserting
    that specific people (read: people of color) were committing violent
    crimes in specific neighborhoods and needed additional police scrutiny.
    The police commissioner allegedly stated that young Black and Latino
    men were the focus of the stops because the commissioner “wanted to
    instill fear in them, [that] every time they leave their home, they could be
    stopped by the police” (Goldstein, 2013).
    Despite the nation’s falling crime rates over the past decade, this
    increasingly punitive response is partially based on the stereotype of the
    African American criminal. This perception is reflected in statistics from
    the FBI UCR, where Blacks are overrepresented in crime statistics. While
    Whites compose 77% of the U.S. population and are underrepresented in
    arrest and incarceration data, Blacks compose 13% of the U.S.
    population and are overrepresented in arrest and incarceration data (FBI,
    2014; U.S. Census Bureau, 2010). In 2014, 69.4% of all persons arrested
    for violent crime were White, and 27.8% were Black (FBI, 2014). In nearly
    all categories of crime recorded by the UCR, with the exception of
    gambling, Blacks are overrepresented as per their population (FBI,
    2014). These statistics indicate the pervasiveness of the stereotype,
    which carries real-life consequences for many Black Americans.
    Data on police use of force and race are not consistent, thereby making
    generalizations difficult. Consistency is lacking in wording of variables,
    such as “killing” versus “shooting”; the range of perspectives (i.e., officer
    versus suspect); and the use of citizen complaints. An analysis of the
    NYPD stop-and-frisk data from 2003 to 2013, for example, indicates that
    police are 24% more likely to point a weapon at a Black person
    compared with a White person in a similar situation and that Blacks
    stopped by police are 17% more likely to experience police use of force.
    The same study used two other data sets from a Houston, Texas, police
    department and found no racial differences in officer-related shootings. In
    addition, Blacks are 24% less likely to be shot at in comparison with
    Whites (Bui & Cox, 2016; Fryer, 2016).
    However, recent cases have proven just how deadly Black men’s
    interactions with the police can be. The 2014 police shooting of Michael
    Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, triggered a DOJ investigation into the
    Ferguson Police Department. The police officer who shot Brown, Darren
    Wilson, was not indicted by the grand jury in the criminal case. This
    outcome and the subsequent protests drew the DOJ’s attention. Their
    investigation revealed a pattern of abuses of Black citizens that
    permeated the city’s culture and illustrate the power of police subculture
    and systemic racism.
    The department found that the Ferguson Police Department regularly
    conducted stops without reasonable suspicion and made arrests without
    probable cause, in violation of the Fourth Amendment; interfered with the
    right to free expression, in violation of the First Amendment; and
    frequently used unreasonable force, in violation of the Fourth
    Amendment. These violations were part of a larger problem of systemic
    racism within the city of Ferguson. For example, the DOJ found that the
    Ferguson Municipal Court had a pattern of focusing on revenue over
    public safety, thus leading to court practices that violated the Fourteenth
    Amendment’s due process and equal protection requirements. Moreover,
    the court exhibited practices that exacerbated the harm of Ferguson’s
    unconstitutional police practices and imposed particular hardship on
    Ferguson’s most vulnerable residents, especially those living in or near
    poverty. The DOJ found that minor offenses often generated crippling
    debts, resulted in jail time because of inability to pay, and led to the loss
    of driver’s licenses, employment, and/or housing. Finally, the department
    found that the harms of Ferguson’s police and court practices were borne
    disproportionately by Blacks and that this disproportionate impact was
    avoidable, in part because Ferguson’s harmful court and police practices
    were partially due to intentional discrimination, as demonstrated by direct
    evidence of racial bias and stereotyping of Blacks by certain Ferguson
    police and municipal court officials (U.S. Department of Justice, 2015).
    The 2015 death of Freddie Gray also spurred a DOJ investigation, this
    time into the Baltimore, Maryland, police department. On April 12, 2015,
    Freddie Carlos Gray Jr. was approached by Baltimore police officers and
    proceeded to flee. After he was detained, Gray was arrested for allegedly
    having an illegal switchblade, which was later found to be a legal knife.
    Gray was handcuffed and, despite pleas for his inhaler, was placed in the
    police van without receiving medical attention. During the ride to the
    police station, the officers claimed that Gray became “irate,” which led
    them to place him in ankle cuffs. He was then loaded “on his stomach
    head first into the wagon” (“Freddie Gray’s Death,” 2016). During the ride
    to the station, the officers picked up a suspect from a different case. The
    van made a total of four stops between the arrest of Freddie Gray and
    arrival at the police station. After the police arrived at the station, they
    requested paramedics to take Gray to the hospital. When he arrived at
    the hospital he was in critical condition. His spine was 80% severed at
    the neck. Gray’s family stated that the hospital performed surgeries on
    Gray to treat three broken vertebrae and an injured voice box. Mr.
    Rodriguez, the other suspect in the van, stated, “I know that when Mr.
    Gray was placed inside that van, he was able to talk, he was upset, and
    when Mr. Gray was taken out of that van he could not talk and he could
    not breathe.” On May 1, 2015, the state prosecutor brought criminal
    charges against the six police officers involved in the case. State
    Attorney Marilyn Mosby charged the six Baltimore officers days later with
    offenses ranging from second-degree depraved-heart murder to
    manslaughter, reckless endangerment, and misconduct in office. All six
    officers were acquitted (Rector, 2016). Mosby has subsequently faced
    significant negative backlash, including a malicious prosecution suit from
    several of the officers (Fenton, 2017).
    The Baltimore report revealed similar findings to those in Ferguson:
    regular violations of Black citizens’ First and Fourth Amendment rights.
    Essentially, the department found reasonable cause to believe that the
    Baltimore Police Department engaged in a pattern or practice of
    conducting stops, searches, and arrests without meeting the
    requirements of the Fourth Amendment;
    focusing enforcement strategies on Blacks, leading to severe and
    unjustified racial disparities in violation of Title VI of the Civil Rights
    Act and the Safe Streets Act;
    using unreasonable force in violation of the Fourth Amendment;
    interacting with individuals with mental health disabilities in a manner
    that violates the Americans with Disabilities Act; and
    interfering with the right to free expression in violation of the First
    Amendment (U.S. Department of Justice, 2016).
    Another significant concern identified by the department was transport
    practices that place detainees at significant risk of harm. In the Gray
    case, the officers were accused of giving him a “rough ride,” which is a
    long-standing police tactic in which the arrestee is injured without having
    direct physical contact with the officer. A rough ride is accomplished by
    not securely placing arrestees in the vehicle and then driving recklessly
    so they injure themselves. For Gray, this included being handcuffed,
    shackled at the ankles, and placed in the transport van on his stomach,
    with no safety belt restraint, in violation of police policy. This DOJ report
    further supports the notion of systemic racism engrained in the policing
    subculture, which is highly protective of its members. It also points to the
    dehumanization of Blacks—Black men in particular—who often become
    victims of this stereotype in a way that leads to higher arrest rates and
    the overrepresentation of Black men in the correctional system.
    Unsurprisingly, Black men are substantially overrepresented in jail and
    prison populations. This is often the result of compounding racial biases
    throughout the whole criminal justice process—arrest, courts,
    adjudication, and corrections (Brewer & Heitzeg, 2012a, 2012b; Walker
    et al., 2007). It is also the result of the idea of neutral application of law,
    which presumes White innocence and ignores the cultural context in
    which people of color live, a context shaped by America’s racially
    charged past (Loury, 2008; Ross, 1996).
    Essentially, Black Americans now experience “the new plantation—in the
    prison industrial complex” (Brewer & Heitzeg, 2012b, p. 380), where they
    are victimized by the unequal protection of law, greater police
    surveillance, and ultimately, greater rates of incarceration. After
    incarceration, they often become inmate labor (which closely aligns with
    slave labor) within the confines of the penitentiary and are thoroughly
    under the control of the state (Alexander, 2010; Davis, 2003). Inmate
    labor has been used through the inmate lease system (Blackmon, 2008).
    Throughout the early 20th century, the inmate lease system (which was
    primarily composed of Blacks) was used to build mines in Birmingham,
    Alabama, and pave the streets in Atlanta, Georgia (Blackmon, 2008).
    These inmates had often been charged with crimes specifically created to
    target Blacks, such as “carrying a weapon, riding on empty freight train
    cars, or violation of racial etiquette such as speaking loudly in the
    presence of white women” (p. 67). Douglas Blackmon (2008) asserts that
    throughout the late 1860s and 1870s, “every southern state enacted an
    array of interlocking law essentially intended to criminalize Black life” (p.
    53). The inmate lease system still exists and is currently used by several
    companies, including Walmart, Hewlett-Packard, McDonald’s, BP Oil,
    Chevron, Bank of America, AT&T, and IBM (Fraser & Freeman, 2012;
    Thompson, 2012). This labor is cheap; federal inmates are paid $0.12 to
    $1.15 per hour, while state inmates are paid $0.13 to $0.32. Some states
    compensate inmates by decreasing the length of their sentences
    (Thompson, 2012). In addition, child support and victim compensation
    are frequently deducted from federal inmates’ wages. According to
    Fraser and Freeman (2012), “the caste nature of the South’s convict
    lease system should remind us of the unbalanced racial profile of
    America’s bloated prison population today” (p. 96).
    While “national security” and “crime control” are often given as reasons
    for the mass imprisonment of Blacks (Brewer & Heitzeg, 2012a, 2012b),
    incarceration actually functions as a way to segregate Blacks from the
    rest of American society. Brewer and Heitzeg (2012a, 2012b) and
    Western (2006) argue that a variety of factors contribute to the
    overrepresentation of people of color in corrections. Specifically, the
    political economy of the correctional industry, which includes the prison
    construction boom and development of private prisons, as well as
    economic decline and fewer low-skilled jobs, has contributed to harsher
    sentences. Policies such as “three strikes” laws, “truth in sentencing”
    laws as opposed to indeterminate sentencing, the end of rehabilitation as
    a correctional philosophy, incarceration for nonviolent crimes as a result
    of the war on drugs, and a general increase in the use of incarceration in
    response to criminal behavior are all contributing factors to the number of
    people of color under correctional supervision. These factors have led to
    an attitude of resignation on behalf of young men of color toward the
    criminal justice system, given the oppressive realities listed above: “For
    many young males, especially African Americans and Hispanics, the
    threat of going to prison or jail is not a threat at all but rather an expected
    or accepted part or life” (Irwin & Austin, 1997, p. 156, as quoted in
    Western, 2006).
    As Loury (2008) states, “crime and punishment has a color in America”
    (p. 22). Americans’ conceptualization of the rapist, drug dealer, and
    general criminal have more often than not involved people of color and,
    specifically, Black males. This conceptualization is representative of a
    long history of racial biases prevalent within American society and is well
    reflected in our justice system—from arrest rates to corrections to the
    death penalty. How do we rid ourselves of this harmful ideal? Evidence is
    abundant that racial biases begin before stop-and-frisk stops and traffic
    stops. If race is part of the American perception of crime, then it is no
    wonder that it is a consideration in the first stage of the criminal justice
    process (e.g., a stop), which can only mean that it is compounded toward
    the end of the criminal justice process (e.g., corrections and
    imprisonment). In the end, Loury (2008) raises a key question:
    Who is to blame for the domestic maladies that beset us? We
    have constructed a national narrative. We have created
    scapegoats, indulged our need to feel virtuous, and assuaged our
    fears. We have met the enemy and the enemy is them.
    Incarceration keeps them away from us. (p. 25)
    Essentially, as Loury indicates, public safety has come to mean keeping
    the public (presumably, the White public) “safe” from people of color.
    Sara Buck Doude is an associate professor of criminal justice at
    Georgia College. Her scholarship focuses on radical criminological
    theory, gender and racial biases within criminal justice, and
    interpersonal violence within marginalized groups. Her work has
    appeared in the Encyclopedia of Theoretical Criminology (2010),
    the Encyclopedia of Women and Crime, and the Sexual Assault
    Report. Her forthcoming work focuses on perceptions of rape
    based on the sexuality of the victim and offender.
    1. The order also froze the stop-and-frisk cases until further appellate
    rulings. However, New York City challenged the ruling under former
    mayor Michael Bloomberg. Current mayor Bill de Blasio hasn’t yet
    dropped the city’s challenge to Scheindlin’s ruling.
    Suggested Additional Resources
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    Tonry, M. (1995). Malign neglect: Race, crime, and punishment in
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    U.S. Department of Justice. (2015, March 4). Justice Department
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    U.S. Department of Justice. (2016). Justice Department
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