The racialization of crime and punishment: Criminal justice, color-blind racism, and the political economy of the prison industrial complex

Rose M. Brewer, Nancy A. Heitzeg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

82 Scopus citations

Abstract

The current explosion in criminalization and incarceration is unprecedented in size, scope, and negative consequences-both direct and collateral-for communities of color. These macro systems exist in relationality to the micro dynamics of living in the midst of police scrutiny, economic marginalization, and political disenfranchisement. Critical race theory is a guide for pedagogy and praxis in exploring the racist and classist foundations of current micro and macro injustices. Using Supreme Court opinions and the voices of political prisoner/prisoners of conscience as evidence of the dominant text and the dissent, this article explores the following issues: the roots of U.S. law, criminal justice, and mass imprisonment in classism and racism; the political economy of the criminal justice system and the prison industrial complex; the intersectionality of injustices rooted in micro and macro systems; and the role of prisoners of conscience/ political prisoners in inspiring resistance to micro and macro injustice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)625-644
Number of pages20
JournalAmerican Behavioral Scientist
Volume51
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2008

Keywords

  • Color-blind racism
  • Critical race theory
  • Prison industrial complex
  • Racism and the criminal justice system
  • Racism and the law

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