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Deadly Symbiosis

Deadly Symbiosis To explain the astounding over-representation of blacks behind bars that has driven mass imprisonment in the United States, one must break out of the `crime-and-punishment' paradigm to reckon the extra-penological function of the criminal justice system as instrument for the management of dispossessed and dishonored groups. This article places the prison in the historical sequence of `peculiar institutions' that have shouldered the task of defining and confining African Americans, alongside slavery, the Jim Crow regime, and the ghetto. The recent upsurge in black incarceration results from the crisis of the ghetto as device for caste control and the correlative need for a substitute apparatus for the containment of lower-class African Americans. In the post-Civil Rights era, the vestiges of the dark ghetto and the expanding prison system have become linked by a triple relationship of functional equivalency, structural homology, and cultural fusion, spawning a carceral continuum that entraps a population of younger black men rejected by the deregulated wage-labor market. This carceral mesh has been solidified by changes that have reshaped the urban `Black Belt' of mid-century so as to make the ghetto more like a prison and undermined the `inmate society' residing in U.S. penitentiaries in ways that make the prison more like a ghetto. The resulting symbiosis between ghetto and prison not only perpetuates the socioeconomic marginality and symbolic taint of the black subproletariat, feeding the runaway growth of the carceral system. It also plays a pivotal role in the remaking of `race', the redefinition of the citizenry via the production of a racialized public culture of vilification of criminals, and the construction of a post-Keynesian state that replaces the social-welfare treatment of poverty by its penal management. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Punishment & Society: The International Journal of Penology SAGE

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References (88)

Publisher
SAGE
Copyright
Copyright © by SAGE Publications
ISSN
1462-4745
eISSN
1741-3095
DOI
10.1177/14624740122228276
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

To explain the astounding over-representation of blacks behind bars that has driven mass imprisonment in the United States, one must break out of the `crime-and-punishment' paradigm to reckon the extra-penological function of the criminal justice system as instrument for the management of dispossessed and dishonored groups. This article places the prison in the historical sequence of `peculiar institutions' that have shouldered the task of defining and confining African Americans, alongside slavery, the Jim Crow regime, and the ghetto. The recent upsurge in black incarceration results from the crisis of the ghetto as device for caste control and the correlative need for a substitute apparatus for the containment of lower-class African Americans. In the post-Civil Rights era, the vestiges of the dark ghetto and the expanding prison system have become linked by a triple relationship of functional equivalency, structural homology, and cultural fusion, spawning a carceral continuum that entraps a population of younger black men rejected by the deregulated wage-labor market. This carceral mesh has been solidified by changes that have reshaped the urban `Black Belt' of mid-century so as to make the ghetto more like a prison and undermined the `inmate society' residing in U.S. penitentiaries in ways that make the prison more like a ghetto. The resulting symbiosis between ghetto and prison not only perpetuates the socioeconomic marginality and symbolic taint of the black subproletariat, feeding the runaway growth of the carceral system. It also plays a pivotal role in the remaking of `race', the redefinition of the citizenry via the production of a racialized public culture of vilification of criminals, and the construction of a post-Keynesian state that replaces the social-welfare treatment of poverty by its penal management.

Journal

Punishment & Society: The International Journal of PenologySAGE

Published: Jan 1, 2001

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