INTRODUCTION project_muse_36448-1433280.pdf - Caught Marie...

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Caught Marie Gottschalk Published by Princeton University Press Gottschalk, Marie. Caught: The Prison State and the Lockdown of American Politics. Course Book ed. Princeton University Press, 2014. Project MUSE.muse.jhu.edu/book/36448. For additional information about this book Access provided at 24 Jan 2020 08:58 GMT from University of California, Berkeley
C H A P T E R O N E Introduction The Prison State and the Lockdown of American Politics To see what is in front of one’s nose needs a constant struggle. — GEORGE ORWELL F ifteen years ago , mass imprisonment was largely an invisible issue in the United States. Since then, criticism of the country’s extraordinary incarcer- ation rate has become widespread across the political spectrum. The huge prison buildup of the past four decades has few ardent defenders today. But re- forms to reduce the number of people in jail and prison have been remarkably modest so far. Meanwhile, a tenacious carceral state has sprouted in the shadows of mass im- prisonment and has been extending its reach far beyond the prison gate. It in- cludes not only the country’s vast archipelago of jails and prisons, but also the far-reaching and growing range of penal punishments and controls that lies in the never-never land between the prison gate and full citizenship. As it sunders families and communities and radically reworks conceptions of democracy, rights, and citizenship, the carceral state poses a formidable political and social challenge. The reach of the carceral state today is truly breathtaking. It extends well be- yond the estimated 2.2 million people sitting in jail or prison today in the United States. 1 It encompasses the more than eight million people—or in one in twenty- three adults—who are under some form of state control, including jail, prison, probation, parole, community sanctions, drug courts, immigrant detention, and other forms of government supervision. 2 It also includes the millions of people who are booked into jail each year—perhaps nearly seven million—and the esti- mated 7.5 percent of all adults who are felons or ex-felons. 3 The carceral state directly shapes, and in some cases deforms, the lives of tens of millions of people who have never served a day in jail or prison or been arrested. An estimated eight million minors—or one in ten children—have had an incarcer- ated parent. Two million young children currently have a mother or father serving time in state or federal prison. 4 Millions of people reside in neighborhoods and communities that have been depopulated and upended as so many of their young
2 | Chapter One men and women have been sent away to prison during what should be the prime of their lives. Hundreds of rural communities have chased after the illusion that constructing a prison or jail will jump-start their ailing economies.

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