Prison Industrial Complex

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Sociology 2962-721 October 29, 2012 Thought Piece #3 Case Study Two: The Prison Industrial Complex In the late 12th century the United States prison system exploded. Mass incarceration has caused a slew of economic and social problems for this country. Steven R. Donziger, author of “Crime and Policy,” noted that America is both obsessed and fearful of crime. American media is saturated with criminal drama, and news coverage is constantly reporting drastic displays of violence (488). Donziger’s studies show that crime rates since the 1970’s are remarkably stable, and violent crimes such as those displayed in the media have dropped by sixteen percent (489). Simultaneously, private prisons, like CCA, have replaced the majority of publicly operated penitentiaries. Barry Yeoman describes this new system as “dungeon for dollars” in his “Steel Town Lockdown” article (507). His article addresses why government favors private prisons and how this directly relates to the expanding definition of crime in order to raise incarceration rates. Yeoman explains, “cost cutting jeopardizes the safety of prisoners, guards, and communities” (508). Another scholar, Paul Wright, advocates against prison laboring. In his article “Making Slave Labor Fly” Wright describes how prisoners are replacing the jobs of the working class Americans and further contributing to an economic downfall. A majority of the articles emphasize the presence of the non-white male caught in the web of our criminal justice system. Jeffery Reiman describes how the white and wealthy slide through the system, while the low income, primarily male sector is targeted. Michelle Alexander goes as far to compare mass incarceration with the old Jim Crow laws. In short, the criminal justice system is not one built on integrity, nor does it provide safety to all Americans. The system is profit driven

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