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Mass Imprisonment and the Life Course SOC 331 Population and Society 08.12.09.

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Presentation on theme: "Mass Imprisonment and the Life Course SOC 331 Population and Society 08.12.09."— Presentation transcript:

1 Mass Imprisonment and the Life Course SOC 331 Population and Society 08.12.09

2 Mass Imprisonment Imprisonment as Life Course Event Trends in US incarceration rates Levels Crimes Impacts on Demographic Outcomes Marriage and Family (Sykes) Labor Market (Mark of a Criminal Record) Health Spatial Inequality and Selective enforcement

3 The Study of the Life Course Life Course Event Important seminal events often experience by a large proportion of the population The ordering of major life events Example: Marriage, Labor Market Entry/Exit, First birth These events carry with them large consequences for both those who engage in them and avoid them

4 Contact with the Criminal Justice System Prison is fast becoming an event experienced by an unprecedented number of individuals Especially pronounced in the U.S. Some groups disproportionately effected If a certain segment of the population is experiencing some event beyond what they represent in the general population, they are said to be disproportionately effected Contact with the CJS has long lasting impacts for these groups

5 Trends The penal population has grown every year for the last 36 years (AAAS) and the U.S. imprisons more people than any other country in the world (China is second) Incarceration rates in the U.S. are among the highest in the World Canada and England/Wales - 1/5 of the U.S. rate 700/100,000 prisoners Canada 101/100,000 England/Wales 126/100,000

6 Change in incarceration rates Source: Boe 2004, Correctional Services of Canada

7 Recent Updates on the Number incarcerated According to the Department of Corrections which uses the total population in the denominator there are about 1 in 130 people in prison The Pew Center for State Studies which uses only the adult population finds 1 in 100 are in prison (2008)

8 Demography of U.S. prisons Has impacted African American Men most dramatically Highly stratified by education Incarceration rates are roughly 8 times higher for black men than for whites According to the Pew estimates: 1 in 36 Hispanic adult men is in prison 1 in 15 black men is in prison (for those aged 20-34 it is 1 in 9)


10 Washington State

11 Effect of Crime and Sentencing Most prisoners are there for non-violent drug crime which explains a large amount of the growth in the prison population 60% of Federal prisoners are drug offenders (Pettit and Western 2004) 40% of state prisoners are drug/property offenders Until recently drug penalties were harsher for crack than for powder cocaine Any racial disparity here may explain some of the disproportional make-up of prison populations

12 Explaining the Boom 1. Criminal offending at the lower end of the class hierarchy resulted from depletion of economic opportunities (Freeman) 2. Alternatively some argue that punitive drug policies are responsible by effected low- skilled men (Blumestein and Beck)

13 Demographic Outcomes Marriage Market (Sykes) Lack of eligible men Labor Market (Ridgeway) “Mark of a Criminal Record” Those with criminal records are less likely to get a job interview and this effect is worse for Black men. White men with a criminal record were more likely to get a job interview than black men without “Secondary Labor Market” – precarious and with few benefits

14 Demographic Outcomes (Cont) Health Prisoners have worse health on average than the non-incarcerated population Effects last after prison as well? A criminal drug offense often bars one from benefits like TANF Spatial Inequality “Selective Enforcement” (Cause and Consequence?) - Link to punitive explanation Integration more difficult

15 Demographic Outcomes (cont) Family A quarter of black children born in 1990 had a father in prison before they were 14 (up from 13% in 1978) Increases the likelihood of contact with the CJS for the child Political Participation Felon disenfranchisement – 48 of 50 states ban felons from voting 4 million people without the right to vote and roughly 14% of black men unable to vote

16 Invisible Inequality/Punishment Our understanding of various statistical measures to track economic wellbeing is clouded by not counting prison populations Employment rates among those most likely to go to prison are artificially inflated Appears that economic expansion over the 1990s helped to reduce economic wellbeing gaps but after factoring in prison populations, there seems to be little effect

17 Cost National Association of State Budget Offices: 44 billion dollars on state corrections (2007) Up from 10.6 billion in 1987 A 127% increase when adjusted for inflation Cost per prisoner vary by state but on average it is about $24,000 annually (2005)

18 “Mass imprisonment among recent birth cohorts of non-college black men challenges us to include the criminal justice system among the key institutional influences on American social inequality.” (Pettit and Western 2004) What are some policies to address this issue? What might be some barriers to instituting policies to reduce contact with the criminal justice system?

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