Frontmatter

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Title Page

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Copyright

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Dedication

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Contents

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About the Authors

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Preface

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pp. xi-xiv

This book reports the main findings of an eight-year project investigating the scope and consequences of growth in the American penal population. Although a vast research literature had studied the evolution of penal . . .

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Introduction

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pp. 1-8

In 1831, Alexis de Tocqueville and Gustave de Beaumont were dispatched to America to study the penitentiary, a novel institution generating great discussion among the social reformers of Europe. At that time, two . . .

Part 1. The Scope and Causes of the Prison Boom

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1. Mass Imprisonment

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pp. 11-33

If prisons affected no one except the criminals on the inside, they would matter less. But, after thirty years of penal population growth, the impact of America’s prisons extends far beyond their walls. By zealously punishing . . .

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2. Inequality, Crime, and the Prison Boom

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pp. 34-51

Extraordinary incarceration rates among young, less-educated black men at the end of the 1990s have a seemingly obvious explanation: black youth with little schooling commit a great deal of crime. Indeed, criminologists report . . .

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3. The Politics and Economics of Punitive Criminal Justice

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pp. 52-81

The American penal system is now the largest in the world. For young black men in inner cities, government presents itself mostly as the policeman, the prison guard, or the parole officer. By the end of the 1990s, criminal justice . . .

Part 2. The Consequences of Mass Imprisonment

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pp. 83-83

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4. Invisible Inequality

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pp. 85-107

Although numerous, the poor are invisible in America’s affluent society. The everyday hardships of low-income families are unfamiliar to those who are economically comfortable. Poor people are seldom depicted in the popular . . .

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5. The Labor Market After Prison

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pp. 108-130

Through the end of the 1990s, the American labor market was celebrated for its dramatic job growth that contrasted with the stagnant employment figures coming out of western Europe. For young men at the bottom of the labor market, this triumphalism . . .

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6. Incarceration, Marriage, and Family Life

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pp. 131-167

As imprisonment became common for less-educated black men by the end of the 1990s, the penal system became familiar to their families. By 1999, 30 percent of noncollege black men in their mid-thirties had been to prison and . . .

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7. Did the Prison Boom Cause the Crime Drop?

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pp. 168-188

Prisons conceal and deepen social inequality. Hundreds of thousands of disadvantaged jobless men are excluded from the usual measures of poverty and unemployment. Men who have been incarcerated make less money, see more . . .

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Conclusion

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pp. 189-198

In the last decades of the twentieth century, mass imprisonment became a fact of American life. The deep involvement of poor black men in the criminal justice system became normal. Those drawn into the net of the penal . . .

Notes

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pp. 199-212

References

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pp. 213-233

Index

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pp. 235-247