American Prisons

“After a half century during which the incarceration rate had fluctuated only moderately in the mid-1970s it had begun to rise steeply.” (p. 339)

Freeman tells about the rising rate of violent offense and increase of crimes on the streets, many of which were directly born by the social conditions of the country. Civil Rights movement, even though improved many aspects of live of an ordinary African-American, still proved existing split of the society and segregation de facto. Which resulted in violent reaction from both groups – blacks and whites. Worsening economic conditions: rising rate of unemployment, rising inflation and taxes just added fuel to the fire. Some neighborhoods of America were hit especially hard (like South Bronx for an example). This all resulted in increased crime rates and drug usage.

In order to decrease crimes on the street Liberals tried to limit access to firearms, which resulted in federal gun control law in 1968. But they were not very successful in further legislating the gun control because of conservatives who were fighting against any gun control quoting the 2nd Amendment. While the effort to limit access to firearms failed, the problem of the crime on the streets stayed open. The solution was to increase arrests and lengthen prison sentences. The idea was to keep the dangerous people off the streets. That is why the rate of arrests increased. Combined with social split, segregation de facto, the American prisons were overloaded mostly with African-Americans.