Princeton University Mass Incarceration Paper

1. Read Chapter 1 of Michelle Alexander, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindedness (New York: The New Press, 2011), Locate Alexander’s key argument in the book. What is she arguing and why? Write an analytical essay in which you discuss whether you or not you support Alexander’s position on mass incarceration and race. Discuss specific points from the book that address Alexander’s main arguments. What specific steps can we take as a society to address mass incarceration. 

2. Read John Pfaff’s “Locked In” first chapter (on Blackboard) and this article and listen to the following Podcast What does Pfaff argue is the cause of current mass incarceration? What is the role of t???????????????????he prosecutor in driving mass incarceration? What is the standard story? What data does Pfaff use to make his point? What is Pfaff’s critique of Michelle Alexander and the reforms undertaken to date? Is John Pfaff “color blind” or “tone deaf” on race and its role in the criminal justice system? 

3. What to do next? Assuming that John Pfaff is at least partly correct in that violent crime is driving mass incarceration today, how can we deal with the issue of mass incarceration? What is the best way to prevent violent crime? What role can diversion or alternative actions by prosecutors make in reducing mass incarceration? What is the proper punishment for violent crime once a person has been convicted? Can people convicted of violent crimes be rehabilitated? When is incarceration an appropriate punishment for crime? What role does fear and electoral politics play in mass incarceration? Is there any hope for a cultural shift in the United States away from mass incarceration and a culture of punishment? Address specifically the challenges of dealing with violent crime from the perspective of both defendants, victims, and communities. How can we ensure public safety and uphold justice while reduc???????????????????ing mass incarceration?

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