Unpacking the Crisis : the Mass Epidemic of Criminalization and Imprisonment on Racial Disproportionality in the United States
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On any given day, tens of thousands of people of color who have been viewed as public menaces, threats to national security, or accused of violating U.S. laws – the criminal justice system are incarcerated in a system that endangers human lives and makes a mockery of due process. Moreover, this embodies an intentionally oppressive criminal justice system that continuously constructs the criminality of racial minorities based on their mere presence. For this project, I will specifically focus on the history of the prison industrial complex, wrongful convictions, life without parole, and DNA-evidence based exonerations through a review of imprisonment-related research in sociology and political science. Race is not a biological category but rather the meaning social institutions, including the criminal justice system, have attached to the physical appearances of racial minorities. Attached to this are constructions of who is considered U.S. law-abiding citizens and who are defined outside these parameters based on physical markers. Therefore, in this project, I analyze the complexity of punishment and the way race shapes punitive enforcement, in regard to imprisonment in the United States. Overall, the literature is grounded in the following research questions: How does race shape punitive enforcement in regard to wrongful convictions and DNA-evidence based exonerations? What does this reveal about the Prison-Industrial Complex in the U.S.? Ultimately, the present study calls for a critical engagement as well as the centering of racialized bodies’ being criminalized across the penal system.