Black Lives MatterAshley Williams reminded Americathat the reasons the old tough-on-crime thing so dominated 1990s politics is not simply that crime was far higher than it is today.
Talking tough and advocating for long, mandatory prison terms; and denigrating and dismissing the humanity of those involved, has been a valuable political tactic deployed by politicians in both major parties. And, that’s been a particularly effective tactic with white voters, because in the United States there are a whole host of persistent stereotypes about race and criminality.
Those notions have long served as justification for all manner of injustice, exclusion and exploitation. And that, in turn, has helped to maintain a very real relationship between poverty and race, seeded elevated crime in some communities and helped to justify even more, and possibly less thoughtful, “lock them up and throw away the key” public policy. In essence, those very stereotypes have both helped to rationalize and create the undeniably massive and racially disproportionate incarceration that exists in the United States today.
That last bit is not an opinion. That's among the conclusions reached in a huge, many-year National Academy of Sciences study published in 2014.
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