Incarceration in America: Barriers to Re-entry

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Prison bars Prison bars (seantoyer/flickr/CC-BY-2.0)

All this week, we’re talking about incarceration in America. On Tuesday we discussed juvenile justice and life-without-parole sentences for teenage convicts. Yesterday we talked about solitary confinement and how new research on the effects of isolation is prompting states to change their prison systems.

Today we're focusing on life after prison, and what happens to former inmates once they're released. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the U.S. incarcerated 319,598 in 1980. By 2010, that number had jumped to over 1.6 million. As the incarceration rate has increased, so have the challenges former inmates must face when they re-enter society. The exploding incarceration rate has disproportionately affected the African-American community. While African-Americans account for just under 14 percent of the U.S. population, black men make up 40 percent of the prison population. 

Joining us is Michelle Alexander, author of "The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness" and law professor at Ohio State University. Also with us is Susan Burton, Founder and Executive Director of A New way of Life Re-Entry Project, a nonprofit dedicated to helping women break the cycle of incarceration.


Professor Michelle Alexander and Susan Burton

Produced by:

Arwa Gunja and Jillian Weinberger

Comments [1]

Elizabeth from New York

I'm listening to the Takeaway's discussion on "Jim Crow" codes concerning the drug wars. It is such nonsense to draw conclusions that african americans are under some kind of conspiracy because of incarceration due to drugs related problems. I had a gentleman friend for a short time. He was middle class and white as a cottonball. He was diagnosed as bipolar and medicated himself with alcohol. This type of denial made him careless about taking his medications. As a result, he robbed several banks in a manic state. He did his time, was released and ended up in a group home. Because of his bipolar and facing other infirmities, he robbed another bank and is serving time again. He had a choice to get help with his alcohol addiction so he could be coherent enough to stick to treatment for his bipolar. Given all this, it is sheer nonsense to say that there is some kind of conspiracy against african americans under the code of the war on drugs. I know we have freedom of speech in this country, but I am surprised that such a quality program as The Takeaway would broadcast such biased garbage with such a flagrant, self pitying hidden agenda. What happened to responsible reporting?

Mar. 22 2012 09:00 AM

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