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Source: Daedalus
Resulting in 1 citation.
1. Western, Bruce
Pettit, Becky
Incarceration and Social Inequality
Daedalus 139,3 (Summer 2010): 8-19.
Cohort(s): NLSY79
Publisher: MIT Press
Keyword(s): Economic Well-Being; Economics of Discrimination; Economics of Minorities; Economics, Demographic; Educational Attainment; Incarceration/Jail; Intergenerational Patterns/Transmission; Mobility, Economic; Racial Differences; Social Environment

In the last few decades, the institutional contours of American social inequality have been transformed by the rapid growth in the prison and jail population.1 America's prisons and jails have produced a new social group, a group of social outcasts who are joined by the shared experience of incarceration, crime, poverty, racial minority, and low education. As an outcast group, the men and women in our penal institutions have little access to the social mobility available to the mainstream. Social and economic disadvantage, crystallizing in penal confinement, is sustained over the life course and transmitted from one generation to the next. This is a profound institutionalized inequality that has renewed race and class disadvantage. Yet the scale and empirical details tell a story that is largely unknown. Though the rate of incarceration is historically high, perhaps the most important social fact is the inequality in penal confinement. This inequality produces extraordinary rates of incarceration among young African American men with no more than a high school education. For these young men, born since the mid-1970s, serving time in prison has become a normal life event. The influence of the penal system on social and economic disadvantage can be seen in the economic and family lives of the formerly incarcerated. The social inequality produced by mass incarceration is sizable and enduring for three main reasons: it is invisible, it is cumulative, and it is intergenerational. The inequality is invisible in the sense that institutionalized populations commonly lie outside our official accounts of economic well-being. Prisoners, though drawn from the lowest rungs in society, appear in no measures of poverty or unemployment. As a result, the full extent of the disadvantage of groups with high incarceration rates is underestimated. The inequality is cumulative because the social and economic penalties that flow from incarceration are accrued by those who already have the weakest economic opportunities. Mass incarceration thus deepens disadvantage and forecloses mobility for the most marginal in society. Finally, carceral inequalities are intergenerational, affecting not just those who go to prison and jail but their families and children, too.
Bibliography Citation
Western, Bruce and Becky Pettit. "Incarceration and Social Inequality." Daedalus 139,3 (Summer 2010): 8-19.