Imprisoning Communities: How Mass Incarceration Makes Disadvantaged Neighborhoods Worse

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As I read this book, I remembered the comment made in 2000 by Timothy Lynch of the Cato Institute: ‘It took over two hundred years for America to hold one million prisoners all at once. And yet we have managed to incarcerate the second million in only the last ten years’ (Lynch 2000). Lynch might take a little satisfaction that the increase in the subsequent ten years has been in the order of only an additional 300,000 prisoners. The United States is exceptional in many ways, some admirable and some less so. One of its exceptional features is the fact that with less than 5 per cent of the population of the world, it has about 23 per cent of all the prisoners in the world (Liptak 2008). The statistics have reached such a level that raw numbers leave the mind numbed: 2.3 million prisoners in total; in several states, over one in 100 of all citizens in prison; young black men more likely to end up in prison than to go on to tertiary education; 700,000 people being released from prisons each year; two-thirds of all admissions to prison being made up of people on probation or conditional release. Traditionally, governments, politicians, public commentators and academics have considered these matters in terms of individuals: an individual offends, an individual has to be punished, an individual has to be reformed. The term to describe the latter concept has varied over the years, from ‘rehabilitation’, to ‘reducing re-offending’, to ‘reintegration’, to ‘re-entry’. Whichever the term of the moment, the focus has been on the individual as offender, nowhere more …

Author-supplied keywords

  • Children
  • Community justice
  • Disadvantaged neighborhoods
  • Impoverished places
  • Incarceration
  • Removal

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  • Todd R. Clear

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