The Prison Boom leading to Mass Incarceration

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Earl Caldwell’s August 1st, 1971 New York Times article, “Negroes Held Oppressed by the Law” explains how the criminal justice system is disproportionately arresting and incarcerating African Americans and other poor communities in order to control and contain them. The article states that arrest records are increasing, and the individuals who are being arrested are most commonly African American or other minority groups. Caldwell specifies how the criminal justice system hides under the guise of promoting the importance of maintaining and protecting the law in order to essentially maintain control over African Americans.

The Sentencing Project, a non-profit organization whose mission is to fight for a fair justice system in the United States created the graph above to show the alarming rates that the prison population grew from 1925-2017. It is clear that there was a drastic increase in the mid 1980s. The caption underneath the graph describes how and why this increase occurred specifically mentioning the War on Drugs and how it has resulted in unnecessary prison sentences for mainly drug based offenses.