Mass Incarceration in the United States

Category: Law
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Since president Nixon declared “war on drugs” in the 1970’s, over 500% of the prison population increased. As of right now there are more than 2.2 million people in prison. Most of the prison population is black and latinos who were convicted for possession. To be honest I believe the prison system is discriminatory against blacks and latinos but mainly against blacks because we can do the same crimes as whites but serve longer sentences than them.

Mass Incarceration is a big issue in the U.S. today because prisons are being overpopulated and the government have nowhere else to put them so they are building more prisons. The U.S. spend around $80 million yearly on prisons which I think they should spend on something that actually benefit people like I don’t know colleges. Even though i’m not going other people can still benefit from the government paying for some of their tuition.

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Mass incarceration had several factors that contributed to it like  President Lincoln signing the emancipation proclamation in 1863 that freed slaves and later on the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendment were created. The 13th amendment abolished slavery everywhere, the 14th amendment granted citizenship to all free people who were born in the U.S., and the 15th amendment prohibit any state from denying a citizen the right to vote. All of these things destroyed the south economy because the south solely depended on slavery for their profits. To try to maintain their economy and go back to the old days they created black codes that restricted African

Americans freedom and it also caused many African American children to go back to working for their former without their parents consent.  In 1866 the black codes were repealed, soon after pig laws were created. Pig laws made going to jail easy by making it a crime for not being employed. As you know, many African Americans didn’t have jobs because they were discriminated against. So with that said, a lot of African Americans ended up in jail.  Pig laws increased the prison population which is expensive because prisons have to provide food, clothing, and shelter.

To cut down on the expenses and to make more money the south came up with convict leasing which prisons would lease their prisoners to commercial companies. Convict leasing made a lot of money for the south but it came to an end because of the working conditions of the work sites. Even though convict leasing was abolished, housing convicts was still expensive. The south came up with a solution to that which was chain gangs.

Chain gangs was prisoners being who were chained together and forced to do labor like farming or construction. I really don’t know how peonage connect to mass incarceration but it was another way for African Americans to be forced back into labor. Here’s how it work, if a person was found guilty of a crime (african americans were convicted even if they didn’t do it) they would have fine to pay. Most of the time they couldn’t pay it so a businessmen would pay their fine and the person would have to work to pay off the debt.

There are other things that also explain mass incarceration like theories.There are a lot of good theories out there but the two that stick out to me the most is the social disorganization theory and the differential opportunity theory. The social disorganization theory is the idea that crime rates are linked to the neighborhoods people live. The differential theory is a theory that people with few chances of success will use any means to be successful like stealing or selling drugs.

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Mass Incarceration In The United States. (2019, Apr 21). Retrieved from