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Punishment and Inequality in America by…
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Punishment and Inequality in America (edition 2006)

by Bruce Western (Author)

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Over the last thirty years, the prison population in the United States has increased more than sevenfold to over two million people, including vastly disproportionate numbers of minorities and people with little education. For some racial and educational groups, incarceration has become a depressingly regular experience, and prison culture and influence pervade their communities. Almost 60 percent of black male high school dropouts in their early thirties have spent time in prison. In Punishment and Inequality in America, sociologist Bruce Western explores the recent era of mass incarceration and the serious social and economic consequences it has wrought. Punishment and Inequality in America dispels many of the myths about the relationships among crime, imprisonment, and inequality. While many people support the increase in incarceration because of reductions in crime in the 1990s, Western shows that the swelling prison population only explains one-tenth of the fall in crime, and has come at a significant cost. Punishment and Inequality in America reveals a strong relationship between incarceration and severely dampened economic prospects for former inmates.The recent explosion of imprisonment is exacting heavy costs on American society and exacerbating inequality. Whereas college or the military were once the formative institutions in young menʾs lives, prison has increasingly usurped that role in many communities. Punishment and Inequality in America profiles how the growth in incarceration came about and the toll it is taking on the social and economic fabric of many American communities. Book jacket.… (more)
Member:adamkey
Title:Punishment and Inequality in America
Authors:Bruce Western (Author)
Info:Russell Sage Foundation (2006), 264 pages
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Punishment and Inequality in America by Bruce Western

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Over the last thirty years, the prison population in the United States has increased more than seven-fold to over two million people, including vastly disproportionate numbers of minorities and people with little education. For some racial and educational groups, incarceration has become a depressingly regular experience, and prison culture and influence pervade their communities. Almost 60 percent of black male high school drop-outs in their early thirties have spent time in prison. In Punishment and Inequality in America, sociologist Bruce Western explores the recent era of mass incarceration and the serious social and economic consequences it has wrought.

Punishment and Inequality in America dispels many of the myths about the relationships among crime, imprisonment, and inequality. While many people support the increase in incarceration because of recent reductions in crime, Western shows that the decrease in crime rates in the 1990s was mostly fueled by growth in city police forces and the pacification of the drug trade. Getting “tough on crime” with longer sentences only explains about 10 percent of the fall in crime, but has come at a significant cost. Punishment and Inequality in America reveals a strong relationship between incarceration and severely dampened economic prospects for former inmates. Western finds that because of their involvement in the penal system, young black men hardly benefited from the economic boom of the 1990s. Those who spent time in prison had much lower wages and employment rates than did similar men without criminal records. The losses from mass incarceration spread to the social sphere as well, leaving one out of ten young black children with a father behind bars by the end of the 1990s, thereby helping perpetuate the damaging cycle of broken families, poverty, and crime.

The recent explosion of imprisonment is exacting heavy costs on American society and exacerbating inequality. Whereas college or the military were once the formative institutions in young men’s lives, prison has increasingly usurped that role in many communities. Punishment and Inequality in America profiles how the growth in incarceration came about and the toll it is taking on the social and economic fabric of many American communities. ( )
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  WayCriminalJustice | Apr 8, 2016 |
Professor David Downes has chosen to discuss Bruce Western’s Punishment and Inequality in America on FiveBooks as one of the top five on his subject -Crime and Punishment, saying that:



“…The most compelling documentation of the character and consequences of the cataclysmic rise of mass imprisonment in the USA over the past three decades. Western spells out its adverse effects for black and Hispanic communities in particular – four decades ago, they were 30 per cent of the prison population, now they constitute 70 per cent. ‘The basic brute fact of incarceration in the new era of mass imprisonment is that African-Americans are eight times more likely to be incarcerated than whites… The Bureau of Justice Statistics reports that in 2004 over 12 per cent of black men aged 25-29 were behind bars, in prison or jail.’ (p3) Over 2.3 million US citizens, mostly male, are in prison on any one day, a figure so huge it conceals substantial levels of poverty, inequality and unemployment by taking them out of the frame..…”



The full interview is available here: http://fivebooks.com/interviews/david-downes ( )
  FiveBooks | Apr 8, 2010 |
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Over the last thirty years, the prison population in the United States has increased more than sevenfold to over two million people, including vastly disproportionate numbers of minorities and people with little education. For some racial and educational groups, incarceration has become a depressingly regular experience, and prison culture and influence pervade their communities. Almost 60 percent of black male high school dropouts in their early thirties have spent time in prison. In Punishment and Inequality in America, sociologist Bruce Western explores the recent era of mass incarceration and the serious social and economic consequences it has wrought. Punishment and Inequality in America dispels many of the myths about the relationships among crime, imprisonment, and inequality. While many people support the increase in incarceration because of reductions in crime in the 1990s, Western shows that the swelling prison population only explains one-tenth of the fall in crime, and has come at a significant cost. Punishment and Inequality in America reveals a strong relationship between incarceration and severely dampened economic prospects for former inmates.The recent explosion of imprisonment is exacting heavy costs on American society and exacerbating inequality. Whereas college or the military were once the formative institutions in young menʾs lives, prison has increasingly usurped that role in many communities. Punishment and Inequality in America profiles how the growth in incarceration came about and the toll it is taking on the social and economic fabric of many American communities. Book jacket.

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