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November 2, 2009

"Why Care About Mass Incarceration?"

The title of this post is the title of this new book review available via SSRN by James Forman.  Here is the abstract:

The United States incarcerates more of its citizens than any other nation in the world.  Paul Butler’s Let’s Get Free: A Hip-Hip Theory of Justice makes an important contribution to the debate about the crime policies that have produced this result.  Butler began his career as a federal prosecutor who believed that the best way to serve Washington, D.C’s low-income African-American community was to punish its law-breakers.  His experiences — including being prosecuted for a crime himself — eventually led him to conclude that America incarcerates far too many nonviolent offenders, especially drug offenders. Let’s Get Free offers a set of reforms for reducing America’s reliance on prisons, and suggests that these changes are in the nation’s collective self-interest.  This Review contrasts Butler’s prudential arguments against mass incarceration with the moral arguments advanced by critics such as Glenn Loury, who emphasize the disproportionate numbers of poor people and racial minorities in our prison population.  Building on Butler’s approach, the Review identifies additional aspects of our criminal justice system — including aggressive policing of minority youth and criminogenic prison conditions — whose harms extend beyond the direct victims (young people and prisoners) and imperil us all.

November 2, 2009 at 08:27 AM | Permalink


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I am sorry this ideologue has it backwards. Criminality causes poverty. Compare brothers in the same family. One spends his time in school, and learns a trade, the other in the street and commits crimes full time. What will be their net assets at age 30? There is a high chance the criminal brother will have been murdered long before. If a busy criminal, he will have spent time in prison, missing valuable earning time. He will not tolerate the discipline of a job, and will have low income.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Nov 2, 2009 4:54:18 PM

If Mr. Forman was innocent and prosecuted, he should advocate greater competence and liability of the prosecutors. If he was guilty of a crime, he should tell us if the crime enriched or impoverished him. Almost no one non-violent is in prison.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Nov 2, 2009 5:01:36 PM

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