February 1, 2018
"Mass Incarceration: New Jim Crow, Class War, or Both?"
The title of this post is the title of this interesting new empirical paper authored by Nathaniel Lewis. Here is the interesting paper's abstract and conclusion:
Using data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health, I analyze racial and class disparities in incarceration. My analysis shows that class status has a large and statistically significant effect on (1) whether or not men aged 24–32 years have ever been to jail or prison; (2) whether or not men are jailed after being arrested; (3) whether or not men have spent more than a month in jail or prison; and (4) whether or not men have spent more than a year in jail or prison. After controlling for class, I do not find race to be a statistically significant factor for the first three outcome categories, but I do find that race has a significant impact on whether or not a man has spent more than a year in prison or jail....
This study takes a careful account of class and how it relates to race and incarceration rates. Previous studies interested in racial disparities across various outcomes all too often fail to control for class at all, or else pick a single variable as a proxy for class, which comes with a set of confounders. The constructed class variables used here attempt to balance out the confounders lurking in any one proxy variable. The result, robust across different methods of composite construction, is that class appears to be a larger factor than usually reported when studying racial disparities. It may indeed come as a surprise to many that race is not a statistically significant factor for many incarceration outcomes, once class is adequately controlled for.
To an extent, this study provides weight to the assertion that mass incarceration is primarily about the systematic management of the lower classes, regardless of race. It would be reasonable to conclude then that if policymakers wished to eliminate the phenomenon of mass incarceration, and the negative effects it has on black Americans, they should look to reducing class disparities in universal ways. For example, single-payer health care, a federal job guarantee, a universal basic income, a livable minimum wage, universal childcare, universal education. These are all policies that would likely reduce class disparities and provide the material means to lift a large swath of people out of the scope of the criminal justice system.
On the other hand, this study demonstrates a large racial gap, even controlling for class, when it comes to the most devastating outcome: long appearances in jail and prison. The current popular effort to draw attention to racial disparities as racial disparities certainly seems to still hold validity in light of this study. Nevertheless, while a focus on reducing class disparities in a material fashion clearly will not be enough to completely solve the problem of racial bias, it seems evident that this approach would do a lot of good for poor blacks and poor whites alike with respect to the cruel machinery of mass incarceration.
February 1, 2018 at 05:30 PM | Permalink
Commie propaganda web site. Forgot to mention the bastardy rate. Dismissed.
Posted by: David Behar | Feb 1, 2018 7:32:31 PM