Understanding Mass Incarceration: A People's Guide to the Key Civil Rights Struggle of Our Time
Date:  10-06-2015

James Kilgore speaks on justice reinvestment and how communities are uniting to push politicians to eliminate the root causes of incarceration
Via Truthout October 1, 2015

With 2.3 million people locked behind bars, the United States, which has 5 percent of the world's total population, holds 25 percent of the world's prison population. These numbers - and their accompanying drain on government resources - have thrust mass incarceration into national conversations.

But what do we mean when we talk about mass incarceration? Who does it affect and how? What else do we need to know? "It's a tragedy of the first order, but mass incarceration is not just about the number of people behind bars - there are lots of dots to connect," says researcher, writer and educator James Kilgore.

In Understanding Mass Incarceration: A People's Guide to the Key Civil Rights Struggle of Our Time, Kilgore does just that. In clear, easy-to-understand language, he connects those dots, laying out the structure, goals and impact of the criminal legal system. He traces the rise of mass incarceration, examining the social and political landscape as well as key policies, such as the war on drugs, three-strikes sentencing and "broken windows policing," bricks that have built a system that now locks up 2.3 million people. In short, mass incarceration is one of the country's key strategies to address crime while failing to address poverty, inequality, unemployment, racial conflict, citizenship, sexuality and gender. At the same time, it has created opportunities for both profit and political power.

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