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March 13, 2014

"The New Jim Crow? Recovering the Progressive Origins of Mass Incarceration"

The title of this post is the title of this notable recent article by Anders Walker and available via SSRN. Here is the abstract:

This article revisits the claim that mass incarceration constitutes a new form of racial segregation, or Jim Crow.  Drawing from historical sources, it demonstrates that proponents of the analogy miss an important commonality between the two phenomena, namely the debt that each owe to progressive and/or liberal politics.  Though generally associated with repression and discrimination, both Jim Crow and mass incarceration owe their existence in part to enlightened reforms aimed at promoting black interests; albeit with perverse results.  Recognizing the aspirational origins of systematic discrimination marks an important facet of comprehending the persistence of racial inequality in the United States.

March 13, 2014 at 05:44 PM | Permalink


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One would hope that it's not necessary to spell out the obvious difference between Jim Crow and incarceration, but it seems to be.

Jim Crow laws disadvantaged people strictly on account of color.

Criminal law, about drugs and everything else, disadvantages people on account of their behavior.

Color you can't change. Behavior you can.

It's true that incarceration disproportionately affects blacks. But it affects more whites than blacks, which is the opposite of Jim Crow. More importantly, incarceration has a greater disproportionate impact by far on the young and on males than it does on blacks.

This is because young people and males disproportionately engage in criminal behavior, not because society has it in for these groups, which it most certainly does not.

It's a sign of how far racial huckstering has gone that it tries to sell us on the preposterous notion that modern society's adverse reaction to bad behavior is the same thing, or pretty much the same thing, as yesteryear society's adverse reaction to being the "wrong" color.

Give it a rest.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Mar 13, 2014 6:22:02 PM

I'm not even going to read this one.

Posted by: Wayne-O | Mar 13, 2014 8:03:00 PM

All race whores must answer to black crime victims. A direct action movement of black crime victims should address the advocacy of the race whore lawyer for the black vicious predator with the lash. No one else will protect the black crime victim, because no one makes any money off the black crime victim. To remedy this perverse economic lack of incentive. I have suggest an Amendment stating have a duty to their constituencies to provide physical protection, and when a criminal attack oa person, the government should reimburse the person for its failure to protect.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Mar 13, 2014 9:15:32 PM

"Jim Crow laws disadvantaged people strictly on account of color."

The point being they were laws. Let's not forget that eugenics was popular at about the same time and was not racial in the sense of skin color. It was racist in the sense of "the good race" or "good stalk" in contrast to a degenerate or feeble-minded, IOW, you, not me. Them, not us.

This is what "race" meant at the time of the 14th Amendment.*

No, I couldn't prove that is what the drafters of the 14th meant.

* "Rafter traces the origins of what she calls "eugenic custodialism" to the founding of the Newark Custodial Asylum for Feeble-Minded Women in New York in 1878. "The Custodial," as it was called, was explicitly designed to confine "feeble-minded" women of child-bearing age in order to protect society against "bad heredity." Though some of these women would be called mentally retarded today, many were simply poor and/or guilty of sexual indiscretions."

Posted by: George | Mar 14, 2014 1:29:13 AM

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