Watch the spread of mass incarceration throughout the US…

US_prison_population_1978-2012

 

From Vox

Twitter and Reddit user @MetricMaps has developed a GIF that shows the steady rise of America’s state and federal prison population from 1978 to 2012. The map shows that the South — and Nevada — were leaders in increasing incarceration, but that most of the rest of the country has followed.

Incarceration rates are mostly due to government policies, not to crime rates — that’s true at the national level, and it’s true for differences between states as well. And because most of the US prison population is housed in state prisons, state laws, in particular, are the biggest factor in the rise of mass incarceration — and differences between similar states can be explained by differences in their laws.

As legal historian Sara Mayeux wrote in 2010:

Incarceration rates are largely driven by policy choices, not crime rates or demographics. Wisconsin and Minnesota have similar demographics and crime rates but Wisconsin has a much larger prison population. A similar disparity exists between North Dakota and South Dakota.

However, demographics are certainly an important part of the story, given that African American and Hispanic men are incarcerated at such a higher rate than other groups. The fact that the trend toward mass incarceration started in the Deep South is evidence for Michelle Alexander’s thesis that mass incarceration is “the new Jim Crow”: a set of policies that work together to control the black population.

Even states with low overall incarceration rates can still be guilty of racial disparities in enforcement. In fact, the states with the biggest racial disparities in marijuana arrests between blacks and whites are all in the Northeast and Upper Midwest, not in the South.
~~

One Comment

How long since 3 Strikes? How long was the prison guard union the strongest in the state? (Did it change directly from Teachers to Prison Guards? Regardless, it’s a pretty impressive social statement: From schools to prisons.) How long have we known there is no disparity between black and white drug use statistics? Vermont, No. 1 illicit drug state. 95 percent white; 1.2 black. Whites do drugs. Blacks and browns are more vulnerable. And prisons are suing Sacramento because the state has not filled their beds. And this has been going on for years. Of course incarceration is going to get worse. Debt prisons are happening, get in on the ground floor. There’s money to be made.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 4,552 other followers