The Black Family in the Age of Mass Incarceration
Key Excerpts from Article on Website of The Atlantic
Posted: September 27th, 2015
From the mid-1970s to the mid-80s, Americas incarceration rate doubled, from about 150 people per 100,000 to about 300 per 100,000. From the mid-80s to the mid-90s, it doubled again. By 2007, it had reached a historic high of 767 people per 100,000. In absolute terms, Americas prison and jail population from 1970 until today has increased sevenfold, from some 300,000 people to 2.2 million. In 2000, one in 10 black males between the ages of 20 and 40 was incarcerated 10 times the rate of their white peers. At a cost of $80 billion a year, American correctional facilities are a social-service program providing health care, meals, and shelter for a whole class of people. An authoritative report issued last year by the National Research Council concluded, the current U.S. rate of incarceration is unprecedented by both historical and comparative standards. Even once an individual is physically out of prison, many do not elude its grasp. In 1984, 70 percent of all parolees successfully completed their term without arrest and were granted full freedom. In 1996, only 44 percent did. As of 2013, 33 percent do. Deindustrialization had presented an employment problem for Americas poor and working class of all races. Prison presented a solution: jobs for whites, and warehousing for blacks. Mass incarceration widened the income gap between white and black Americans, writes [historian] Heather Ann Thompson ... because the infrastructure of the carceral state was located disproportionately in all-white rural communities.
Note: The article above provides a detailed history of some U.S. policies that created the corrupt prison industry.