In this revised edition of his seminal book on race, class, and the criminal justice system, Marc Mauer, executive director of one of the United States’ leading criminal justice reform organizations, offers the most up-to-date look available at three decades of prison expansion in America.
Including newly written material on recent developments under the Bush administration and updated statistics, graphs, and charts throughout, the book tells the tragic story of runaway growth in the number of prisons and jails and the overreliance on imprisonment to stem problems of economic and social development. Called “sober and nuanced” by Publishers Weekly, Race to Incarcerate documents the enormous financial and human toll of the “get tough” movement, and argues for more humane—and productive—alternatives.
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Marc Mauer is the executive director of The Sentencing Project, a national organization based in Washington, D.C., that promotes criminal justice reform. Mauer is one of the country’s leading experts on sentencing policy, race, and the criminal justice system. He has directed programs on criminal justice policy reform for thirty years and is the author of some of the most widely cited reports and publications in the field. Race to Incarcerate (The New Press), Mauer’s groundbreaking book on how sentencing policies led to the explosive expansion of the U.S. prison population, was a semifinalist for the Robert F. Kennedy Book Award in 1999; a graphic adaptation by Sabrina Jones was published by The New Press in 2013. Mauer is a co-editor, with Meda Chesney-Lind, of Invisible Punishment: The Collateral Consequences of Mass Imprisonment (The New Press). He lives in Silver Spring, Maryland.
A meticulously researched rejoinder to the war on crime.'' The Sentencing Project, a nonprofit organization that promotes criminal justice reform, has monitored a literal explosion since 1973 in both incarceration rates and sentencing severity, ironically as real crime rates fluctuated and declined. Assistant director Mauer, a former consultant to the National Institute of Corrections, galvanizes the reader with both detail and directness as he examines closely how this Kafkaesque state of American justice developed and its untenable implications for our future. Mauer explicitly concerns himself with the curious intersections of race and class within this situation, examining the role of social unrest in the 1960s and other factors in conflating various crime in the streets scares, which faded as repressive measures directed largely against urban minorities remained, and the ultimately thwarted incarceration reform movement of the 1970s. Unsurprisingly, a good portion of his narrative concerns the war on drugs (as in one aptly titled chapter, Crime as Politics). Mauer demonstrates the labyrinthine methodology by which antidrug hysteria conceals both a means of underclass social control (particularly in the wake of post-1973 mandatory minimum laws) and the constant inflation of corrections and law enforcement spending. Mauers exposure of the deep race-based inequities in the prosecution of this war is upsetting and powerful; yet arguably the book is hobbled here by its rather dry and exhaustive approach, which could prove anathema to the readers who most need to consider the injustice and civil rights erosion which they tacitly support. (The books array of sophisticated charts, graphs, and footnotes provide a dizzying counterpoint to Mauers coolly deliberative prose.) Additionally, Mauer discusses the unintended consequences of maximum incarceration, such as the diversion of law enforcement resources and the disenfranchisement of minority populations through loss of voting rights; he concludes by offering possible new frameworks for thought and modulation within a seemingly intractable problem. Mauer provides a sobering, crucial voice amid the obfuscatory, insensate tough-on-crime din. -- Copyright ©1999, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.
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