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    Mass Incarceration as an Important Topic in Sociology

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    Mass Incarceration Question 3 : Find at least two examples of sociological research that addresses your question or topic: In general, how did the researchers investigate the question or topic? What did they find? What are the implications of their findings? Mass incarceration is an important topic in sociology. In general, researchers in sociology investigate the topic from the perspective of causes of mass incarceration, impact of mass incarceration and trends of mass incarceration.

    For example, in the article “Mass incarceration: data, trends, and comparison,” Todd Beer talks about how the staggering rates of mass incarceration are affecting the minority communities disproportionately and how it leads to the changes in policy and the economy. These changes happen in social context rather than individual level.

    In another article “Mass Incarceration,” Christopher Wildeman provides a general introduction about the situations of mass incarceration in the United States. The introduction helps more readers to learn the facts about mass incarceration. In the previous research, researchers have found that mass incarceration affects different minority groups in a disproportional way.

    According to the Beer, “An African American male born in 1975 and who didn’t finish high school has a nearly 70 percent chance of serving jail time by his mid-thirties” (2014). This means that African American groups are more likely to meet mass incarceration. For both white and black communities, the mass incarceration rate is also connected with levels of education. The lower the education level, the higher the mass incarceration rate.

    The implications of their findings are that mass incarceration occurs frequently in the United States. It is closely connected with racial and gender problems in the society. Just like Wildeman mentions, the mass imprisonment is actually “the fourth ‘peculiar institution’ for the control of African Americans” (2017). The phenomenon of mass incarceration actually reflects the root of social and racial inequality in the American society. It is indeed a very serious problem troubling the society.

    In the film 13th by Ava DuVernay it states that in 1970 there were only 357, 292 people in prisons and from 1970 to 1990 that number jumped to 1, 179,000 due to the War on drugs If we compare the other population that are in prisons, state penitentiaries, or local jails we can see a disproportionate amongst other races. 1-3 blacks will be in prison compared to 1-17 whites’ statistics from 13th the film.

    According to an article by Eli Hager in The Washington Post dated December 15, 2017 Titled: A Mass Incarceration mystery: In the article he states that African Americans are imprisoned five times higher than that of whites, and one in 10 black children have a parent in prison compared to one in 60 white children. Statistic from Standard Center on Poverty & Inequality. But the article continues on and says from 2000-2015 the rate of black men in prison that has decreased more than twenty four percent. In the article it says among Latino men their rate has increased or stayed the same?

    The study is from New York to Los Angeles. Kalief Browder was a teenager who went to jail for stealing a backpack, but not just to jail he went to Rikers Island in the Bronx in New York City. He was sixteen years old, he went out one night in spring of 2010 and a kid called the police stating he had his backpack stolen.

    He never was identified as the thief, but he was sent to Rikers where he spent two years in solitary confinement while at Rikers he was subject to beat downs, by inmates and by guards. He never went to trial they let Kalief walk out of jail after spending a thousand days in jail. Unfortunately this young black man succumbed to committing suicide. Article 5 It allows us to know about diverse cultures, ourselves and the norms that are within our society. Which include mass incarceration, crimes, poverty, the impact it has changed lives.

    The sociologist need to study/research the problems that are happening now, come to some conclusion or better understanding of why it has happened. Ex: Mass incarceration why are there more blacks than whites in our current prison system? Is it economics, environment. According to 13th film 1-3 blacks are more likely to go to prison than 1-17 whites. C. Wright Mills says that with a sociological imagination to better understand the relationship between the individuals and society.

    We know there are steps that a sociologist must think about. Never assume anything, get ready to be wrong, ask more questions, make the everyday strange, and embrace life’s complexities. We know that social stratification refers to society’s categorization of people and their rankings of socioeconomic which are based on, wealth, income, race, education and of course power.

    Which there are inequalities within individuals, but sociologist are more interested in the macro level patterns. Social stratification is created by and supported by the whole society. Within social stratification it is about the systemic inequalities which are based on groups, classes, and there are two types of stratification there is closed which doesn’t allow much change and open which is based on achievement, it allows interaction between the layers of class.

    Because of the way social stratification is set-up lower class citizens are not able to climb out of debt, are unable to get a well-paying job. Have an opportunity to have a better life. Do to these obstacles there is a whole class of citizens who are being taken advantage of and will continue this way unless laws are changed.  What sociological terms, concepts or theories can you use to better understand your topic (use at least 2 from course materials)?

    What assumptions or expectations do you have about what you will find based on the terms, concepts or theories that you’ve used? Mass incarceration can be seen through the social conflict theory. The social conflict theory is defined as a society that is an arena of inequality on the basis of race, class, gender, age etc (Chapter 1: Looking at Sociology). Mass incarceration in America is referred to as the increase of incarcerated people in America over the past forty years.

    According to “The Black Family and Mass Incarceration” by Bruce Western and Christopher Wildeman, “The era of mass incarceration can be understood as a new stage in the history of American racial inequality.” More recently it has been seen that the number of people from impoverished areas or people of minority, specifically African American men are racking up the numbers of imprisoned people in America.

    It has been seen that African American and Latino people make up about 32% of the population, but surprisingly combined they make up 56% of the incarcerated population. As said in “Mass Incarceration: Finding Our Way Back to Normal by Ron Marmer, “African American men have have been projected to face a lifetime chance of imprisonment of 1 of 3.”

    Coming from a social conflict theorists perspective these statistics scream the issue of inequality. For people of color to make up more than half of the incarcerated population clearly shows that somewhere down the line people of color are targeted and charges more severely than any other race. This shows an unproportionate amount of inequality throughout the judicial system. Also, being incarcerated can sometimes be seen as an ascribed status.

    Often times people get themselves into situations that lead to an arrest, but most recently the sentencing of those crimes are rash and harsh. These people become felons, which give them an unflattering status to the public and often times it lessens their opportunity to get a job once they are no longer incarcerated. This circumstance creates problems regarding their social status. After becoming incarcerated these people aren’t able to go back to the life that they once knew; most times they are not able to regain control and get back on their feet which causes them to fall into an impoverished status.

    This impoverished status is seen as a status that they weren’t born with but, one that they have “earned” due to their mistakes in life. Due to these men not being able to reclaim control of their lives and get a job after prison they have to turn to doing illegal activities to make a living. Most turn to selling drugs, which in turn results in a higher chance of them going back to prison and continuing the revolving cycle of black men getting out of prison and going right back.

    Based on the observations made throughout extensive research, one can determine that a social conflict theorist would see mass incarceration as one big pot of inequality.  Michael Simms The Big Takeaway Rough Draft Questions What is your research question or topic? Why did you choose this topic? The topic that we chose is mass incarceration, which focuses on the increasing number of incarceration in the United States.

    This topic was important for me to discuss because mass incarceration goes hand in hand with the relationship between African-Americans and the police, especially African-American males and the police. In my own experiences, I have family members and close friends that have, and are currently serving time in prison for absurd reasons, while other races can engage in the same activities and behaviors and there is little to no consequences for their actions.

    In the article, “The Social and Moral Cost of Mass Incarceration in African American Communities” Dorothy Roberts, says, “Achieving another historic record, most of the people sentenced to time in prison today are black. On any given day, nearly one-third of black men in their twenties are under the supervision of the criminal justice system—either behind bars, on probation, or on parole.” There is no denying the presence of racial discrimination in the criminal justice system.

    Compare what you expected to find to actual research findings. It is not surprising to known that minorities make up over half of the United States prison population; this is nothing new. Minorities, especially African Americans, have always been unfairly profiled and targeted by the police.

    Nowadays, the issues are becoming more noticeable and more difficult to ignore with movements such as “Black Lives Matter” and the uprising of social media and technology over the past decade. With cases such as, Alton Sterling, Sandra Bland, Michael Brown, Rodney King, Stephon Clark, and countless others, it is more evident than ever before that there is a clear, dramatic difference in the way people of color are treated by the police, than how white people are.

    We expected to find that for those minorities that are able to be released from jail or prison, they have extreme difficulties and challenges with trying to re-enter the general population. Having a criminal record can result in a permanent negative sanction by society, especially for minorities, meaning that even though they have served their time and completely paid their debt to society, in many ways, they are still mentally incarcerated.

    Because of this harsh treatment by society, sadly, many turn to illegal activities such as selling drugs or stealing, just to be able to survive financially, causing a never-ending cycle of going in and out of jail. Also, in many ways, the effects of mass incarceration can spill over and effect those who have never been incarcerated or effect the families of those who are or have ever been incarcerated.

    In our research, we found that mass incarceration has a lot to do with education. Recalling the statistic that black men born after 1975 that dropped out of high school having around a 70 percent chance of serving time in jail; imagine the effects that would have on the children and families of those men, and that on average, white men with a criminal record are more likely to get called back for a job interview, than black men with no prior criminal record.

    Often times, statistics like this can put added stress and pressure on the next generation of black and latino children to attend college and obtain a college degree just to lower their chances of being involved in situations that can lead to their incarceration. There is no denying that mass incarceration is a serious issue, especially for minorities and it all stems back to segregation and racism.

    This essay was written by a fellow student. You may use it as a guide or sample for writing your own paper, but remember to cite it correctly. Don’t submit it as your own as it will be considered plagiarism.

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