Detaining Democracy? Criminal Justice and American Civic Life

Source: Edited by: Christopher Wildeman, Jacob S. Hacker and Vesla M. Weaver, ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, January 2014
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From the extract:
“We Mail Books to Prison.” So reads the sign adorning the window of a bookshop tucked away in a struggling corner of Trenton, New Jersey. It communicates the obvious—an available service—but also something less innocuous: many of the shop’s customers have loved ones in prison. It communicates something else, too: the effects of prison are not as distant from this troubled neighborhood as the prison itself might be. Following the opposite course of the books, the effects of incarceration feed back into the communities from which prisoners come and to which most of them will return. In a nation where the capacity to punish and surveil has witnessed stunning expansion over the last generation, “We Mail Books to Prison” is a reminder that the state’s role as arbiter and enforcer of criminal law now represents one of the most powerful influences on the social and civic fabric of communities across the nation, affecting everything from the socialization of children to the political participation of residents.

We live in the midst of what may be the most visible and transformative government intervention since the 1960s. The number of prisoners has multiplied fivefold in just 35 years. At the same time, other types of criminal justice contact—from the use of misdemeanor charges (Natapoff 2012) to stop-and-frisks (to brief detentions based on reasonable suspicion of criminal activity rather than probable cause)—have dramatically increased as well (Fagan et al. 2010). In the words of historian William Novak, “The power of the U.S. government to regulate, study, order, discipline, and punish its citizens . . . has never been greater” (2008, 760).

This power has not been felt equally by all Americans. For most, it is virtually invisible. For men of color—especially those who reside in the poorest neighborhoods—and for the people close to ….

Articles include:
Incarceration and Social Inequality: Challenges and Directions for Future Research
by Kristin Turney

Mass Imprisonment and Trust in the Law
by Christopher Muller and Daniel Schrage

How the Criminal Justice System Educates Citizens
by Benjamin Justice and Tracey L. Meares

Detention, Democracy, and Inequality in a Divided Society

by Glenn C. Loury

Do Voting Rights Notification Laws Increase Ex-Felon Turnout?
by Marc Meredith and Michael Morse

Locked In? Conservative Reform and the Future of Mass Incarceration
by David Dagan and Steven M. Teles

Incarceration, Inequality, and Imagining Alternatives
by Bruce Western

Mass Incarceration and American Democracy
Source: Scholars Strategy Network, Scholar Spotlight, 2014