ATTN STUDENTS: DUE TO A FAMILY EMERGENCY THERE WILL BE NO CLASS ON WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 28TH. WE WILL STILL HAVE CLASS ON MONDAY, NOVEMBER 26TH AS USUAL, THANK YOU FOR UNDERSTANDING.
This week, we will be examining the Prison-Industrial Complex (PIC). The PIC is " a set of bureaucratic, political and economic interests that encourage spending on imprisonment regardless of actual need" (Schlosser, 1998). In other words, it is a system that builds prison and incarcerates mass numbers of people for reasons that have very little to do with alleviating crime. For the purposes of Ethnic Studies, we examine the PIC because the vast majority of the people impacted by the PIC are people of color. Why is this so? Who benefits from this arrangement? What are the relationships between racism/xenophobia and the incarceration of people? The two readings for this week get us started on answering these questions.
"The New Jim Crow", by lawyer extraordinnaire Michelle Alexander, makes an argument that the current system of incarceration is a way of controlling the Black population, in a style very similar to Jim Crow.
"Remaking Big Government: Immigration and Crime Control in the United States" examines how the government is 'criminalizing immigration' in order to increase its income while developing negative ideologies about Latinos.
In your opinion, what are the connections between race and crime?
What functions do prisons serve in the United States?
What is the "Industrial" part of the Prison-Industrial Complex?
Is crime defined to impact some populations more than others? Who is believed to be more criminal?
Why do you think that people of color are over-represented in the prison population in the United States?
Are prisons used as a form of social control? Why or why not?
Can you think of some examples of ways that daily life is being 'criminalized'? What does that mean?