15 Michael Hardt Quotes on Commonwealth, Revolution and Commonwealth - Quotes.pub

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It is a scandal—or, rather, it should be a scandal and one wonders why it isn’t—that the US prison population, after reaching a postwar low in the early 1970s, has since grown more than 500 percent. The United States locks up a higher percentage of its own population than any other nation in the world. Even with extraordinary prison construction projects over the last decades, the cells are still overfull. This massive expansion cannot be explained by a growing criminality of the US population or the enhanced efficiency of law enforcement. In fact, US crime rates in this period have remained relatively constant. The scandal of US prison expansion is even more dramatic when one observes how it operates along race divisions. Latinos are incarcerated at a rate almost double that of whites, and African Americans at a rate almost six times as high. The racial imbalance of those on death row is even more extreme. It is not hard to find shocking statistics. One in eight black US males in their twenties, for instance, is in jail or prison on any given day. The number of African Americans under correctional control today, Michelle Alexander points out, is greater than the number of slaves in the mid-nineteenth century. Some authors refer to the racially skewed prison expansion as a return to elements of the plantation system or the institution of new Jim Crow laws. Keep in mind that this differential racial pattern of imprisonment is not isolated to the United States. In Europe and elsewhere, if one considers immigrant detention centers and refugee camps as arms of the carceral apparatus, those with darker skin are disproportionately in captivity.