From Mass Incarceration to Mass Control, and Back Again: How Bipartisan Criminal Justice Reform May Lead to a For-Profit Nightmare
20 U. Pa. J.L. & Soc. Change 125 (2017)
59 Pages Posted: 7 Mar 2016 Last revised: 15 Jun 2017
Date Written: March 3, 2016
Since 2010, advocates on the right and left have increasingly allied to denounce mass incarceration and propose serious reductions in the use of prisons. This alliance serves useful shared purposes, but each side comes to it with distinct and in many ways incompatible long-term interests. If progressive advocates rely solely on this alliance without aggressively building our own vision of what decarceration should look like, the unintended consequences could be serious. This Article describes the current mass incarceration paradigm and current left-right reform efforts. It then outlines how, if progressives do not set clear goals for what should replace mass incarceration, these bipartisan efforts risk creating a nightmare scenario of mass control, surveillance, and monitoring of Black and Brown communities. Finally, the Article explains why this mass control paradigm would lay the groundwork for a heavily-privatized, extraordinarily difficult-to-end resurgence of mass incarceration in subsequent decades.
Keywords: mass incarceration, criminal justice, private prisons, probation, parole
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