Mass incarceration is a government ploy to incapacitate the black community. Because of the difficult reentry into society of incarcerated persons, poverty and poor education ensue, causing broken families within the black community, especially due to the absence of Black men, a disproportionate number of whom are incarcerated by the American race-based legal system.
African American families have been broken apart, children growing up without one or two parents incarcerated and black men serving sentences for petty crimes. Public Correction agencies such prisons, jails, and probation benefit from the incarcerated.
This epidemic is happening all across American but mainly in inner cities where there are more blacks and Hispanics. America was built off of racism and has continued into modern day, pushing people into the prison system for profit, scapegoating the black men.
Mass incarceration stems from a historically long battle against African Americans. Capitalist or conservatives feel these incarceration numbers are keeping criminals off the streets, making America safer. Conservatives believe prisons are beneficial to the war against drugs, to lock up offenders and prevent them from committing the same crimes. Prisons are also supposed to serve as rehabilitation centers for criminals. In the 1900s former presidents strengthened the country’s stance against crime by updating policies and bills in favor of incarceration for these reasons. Crime bills passed by Presidents Clinton, Johnson, and Reagan have caused extremely high rates of imprisonment within the United States; black men take up 37 percent of all incarnated people. Post-Civil rights movements where black men were victims of lynching and harsh punishments, mass incarceration has become the new way to abuse African Americans legally to protect white America.
What the Opposition’s Believes
Republicans believe prisons help rehabilitation; however, rehabilitation after prison has become extremely difficult because of the permanent effects of a criminal record. Incarcerated men are not transitioning into society because of employment and housing issues. “Men with criminal records account for about 34 percent of all nonworking men ages 25 to 54, according to a recent New York Times poll.” Millions of black men experience the baggage of a criminal record which allows limited employment options as well as housing arrangements. Employers and landlords are reluctant to hire anyone with a criminal background, leaving African Americans unable to become productive members of society, post incarceration.
This epidemic has created the ‘Ban the Box” movement. “The name refers to the box that job applicants are sometimes required to check if they have been convicted of a felony or a misdemeanor.” This movement suggests getting rid of the question until later on in the application to increase the chances of getting hired. With systematic approaches, such as this, mass incarcerations results are keeping black men unable to re-enter society successfully.
Mass incarceration has turned into a monster whose statistics suggest results are irreversible for the following generations. American officials have supported the downfall of black men by accelerating the cycle of imprisonment. Black men and their families are losing in the said “war on crime.” United States leaders have made strides in making mass incarceration possible.
Harsh Effects on Black Community
Harsh prison sentencing caused broken families across the United States. Broken homes can often affect a child’s development, as one parent is missing from a household. Mothers and children are being led to poverty because of the absence of black fathers due to imprisonment. About 2.7 million American children have an incarcerated parent (School-to-Prison Pipeline). Single parent households more than likely face extreme financial trouble. Boston University research suggests nearly half of imprisoned parents were the principal source of income to a household. In addition to financial difficulties, families are forced to face mental health issues because of the absence of a family member. The absence of parents from households generationally affect the performance of children in school and their learning process.
The public school to prison pipeline has become more common in children who have or had incarcerated parents. Children are being taken advantage of by the education system and a growing prison population. Imprisonment has become generational, directing children away from schooling. Many of these children have a history of poverty, abuse, or neglect that has stemmed from mass incarnation. “Children of imprisoned parents suffer—academic, behavioral, and health impediments—and to draw a direct link between parental incarceration and children doing worse in school,” said Anderson, a sociology expert. Residents of neighborhoods with high incarceration rates are more likely to experience depression and general anxiety disorders which affect academic performance.
If the government doesn’t acknowledge the damage being done to the black community, how else will the black community get out of the cycle. Electing Presidents who will support indiscriminate and race-based wars on crime will only further the destruction of black men and their progression in society. We should look into electing officials with a progressive view on criminal justice reform. Eliminating prison for lower-level crimes, reduce sentence minimums and maximums would help stop the cycle of incarceration.