Trouble In Mind Leon Litwack Thesis

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So the task faced by the penal apparatus in the neoliberal era has been not only to instill work discipline and to make the labor power of the unwilling people socially useful,the criminal law and the daily work of the criminal courts are directed almost exclusively against those people whose class background, poverty, neglected education, or demoralization drove them to crime, or otherwise led them to engage in provoking public behavior liable to attract police attention and to trigger apprehension and arraignment.

Close-up study at ground level converges with correctional statistics to confirm that the mass of people processed through jails in the United States are nearly exclusively of lower class provenance, detached and disreputable persons who are arrested more because they are offensive than because they have committed crimes, and because they lack the economic and status resources to avoid getting caught in the penal dragnet and escape short-term detention.

One must likewise avoid reducing penal policies either to an instrumental logic of domination and interest or to an expressive logic of communication and identity, for these dynamics typically work most effectively in tandem.

To fully grasp the , its capacity to articulate dynamically with a range of social relations and purposes, it is thus indispensable to effect a second rupture, this time with the narrow materialism and reductionist classism of Rusche and Kirschheimer for which every system of production tends to discover punishments which correspond to its productive relationships.

Three brute facts stare the sociologist of racial inequality and incarceration in America in the face as the new millennium dawns.

First, in 1989 for the first time in national history, African Americans (who comprise 6% of the countrys population) made up a majority of men walking in through prison gates, marking an epochal transformation in the recruitment of inmates.Likewise, inmates throughout Western Europe are overwhelmingly drawn from the deskilled and precarious fractions of the working class.But this does not mean that the penal apparatus cannot be trained also on stigmatized and marginalized groups based on social principles of vision and division other than class.Moreover, these figures significantly underestimate the widening of the white-black incarceration gap since the category whites comprises a large and growing number of Latinos as the latters share of the total inmate population rises over time, and the more so in the states that have led the march to mass confinement such as Texas, California, and Florida.These grim statistics are well known and agreed upon among students of crime and justice in the United States, though they have been steadfastly ignored or minimized by analysts of urban marginality and social policy, who have never properly registered the full disruptive impact that imprisonment has had on low-income black communitiesindeed the pivotal role that the penal wing of the state has assumed in regulating race and poverty in the aftermath of the Civil Rights revolution.But none of these factors, taken separately or jointly, accounts for the sheer magnitude, rapidity, and timing of the recent racialization of U. incarceration, especially as crime rates have been flat and later declining over that period.For this, it is necessary, first, to take a longer historical view and, second, to break out of the narrow crime-and-punishment paradigm to reckon the extra-penological role of the penal system as when they write: The bond, transparent or not, that is supposed to exist between crime and punishment... Punishment is neither a simple consequence of crime, nor the reverse side of crime, nor a mere means which is determined by the end to be achieved.This relationship has spawned a that ensnares a supernumerary population of younger black men, who either reject or are rejected by the deregulated low-wage labor market, in a never-ending circulus between these two institutions of forced confinement.This carceral mesh has been solidified by two sets of concurrent and interrelated changes: on the one end, sweeping economic and political forces have reshaped the structure and function of the urban Black Belt of mid-century to .Indeed, in the case of black Americans, both the symbolic causes and the symbolic functions of the expansion of the penal system turn out to be paramount, namely, to draw a demarcation of dishonor that overlays racial rejection with legal and moral censure, thereby legitimating the continued social seclusion of a group regarded as vile and menacing.We shall see in chapter 6 that the same is true of the penal containment of postcolonial immigrants in the European Union at the turn of the century; and in chapter 7 that a similar dynamic is at work in the penal encirclement of the Rusche and Kirschheimer were right to assert that specific concrete interests and not abstract feelings of justice propell the historical trajectory of the penal state and determine the extant deployment of its sanctions at every epoch.


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