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Race to Incarcerate
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40 of 42 people found the following review helpful
on August 22, 1999
I want to recommend this book to anyone who is troubled by the fact that the US is the country with the world's second highest incarceration rate, right after Russia: currently, 1.7 million Americans are in prison or jail. Half of all prison inmates are African American. It is impossible to summarize the author's subtle and well documented analyses in a few sentences. He convincingly shows that these numbers are not, or are not merely, due to high rates of criminal activity, but rather to factors such as social inequality, inordinate media attention given to crime, political demagoguery ("get tough on crime"), and a long legacy of racial discrimination. Mauer makes many suggestions for a more humane and effective response to crime than the current "race to incarcerate." He concludes his book with the moving appeal to stop "caging the least fortunate among us to solve our problems." Read it!!
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on June 25, 2008
This book came to me a bit by accident, and after reading it I have taken what opportunities I have to tell people about it.

The author analyzes many, many studies relating to the criminal justice system to shed light on why we have so many people in jail, why a disproportionate number of them are minorities, and why this massive rate of incarceration hasn't been as effective as one would think in reducing crime. Reading it, I had many moments where I had to stop and truly digest what was being said. One such moment was Mauer's discussion of how the degree of punitiveness in a community has drastic consequences for how many members of that community end up in jail. For example, if the result of a minor drug offense in Urban City X results in jail time, while the laws of Suburb Y punish that same offense with mandatory drug rehabilitation and/or community service, the Inner City ends up with a seemingly higher crime rate because more people are incarcerated. And that's just one example of the insights in this book.

I will say that the constant reference to statistics can make the book a bit of a slower read. However, Mauer wouldn't be able to make his case without these facts. I think it is important for all citizens to become more aware of what's happening with this, even if the topic of jail seems to have nothing to do with your life. I don't have a background in Criminal Justice, so I don't know if maybe there's a better book for people to read to get informed about the topic. But having read this one, I highly recommend it.
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on November 13, 2013
On point. Honest. Well researched and bursting with startling facts, that shake fair consciousness like a 800-pound angry gorilla. This is definitely groundbreaking empirical study on the impact of US criminal justice and its mass incarceration correlation.
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on December 24, 2014
As a criminology student this is a required book, however I've been recommending it to friends and family. If you want to understand incarceration and it's effects and defects, this is the book for you.

Also, buy this for anyone in your family who says things like "he should be locked up for life"
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on July 28, 2013
Excellent introduction to the American gulag.
This short, yet substantial book should be properly read and taught in 9th grade Civics, esp. in urban schools.
Maybe more white, brown and esp. black boys could avoid the waiting trap, which has been set for them.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on February 1, 2015
No problem with item
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0 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on February 25, 2014
Poor quality binding, the book is bound with wrinkles in the spine. Not the best quality printing job, either. Looks like sloppy 2nds, even though I ordered a Band New book.
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