Deviancy, Disability, and Dependency: The Forgotten History of Eugenics and Mass Incarceration
50 Pages Posted: 19 Mar 2018
Date Written: March 14, 2018
Racism, harsh drug laws, and prosecutorial overreach have formed three widely-discussed explanations of the punitive carceral state. These three narratives, however, only partially explain where we are. Neglected in our discussion of mass incarceration is our largely-forgotten history of the long-term, wholesale institutionalization of the disabled. This form of mass detention, motivated by a continuing application of eugenics and persistent class-based discrimination, provides an important part of our history of imprisonment, shaping key contours of our current supersized correctional system. Only by fully exploring this forgotten narrative of long-term detention and isolation will policy makers be able to understand, diagnose, and solve the crisis of mass incarceration.
Keywords: mass incarceration, institutionalization, eugenics, carceral state, disabled
JEL Classification: K14
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation