Why there is an Increase in the Rate of Incarceration?
The escalated rates of incarceration are attributed to the fact that the American society has become more punitive.
According to Wacquant, the American society is considered to be “five times more punitive that it was a quarter of century ago”. Imprisonment would be used as an effective institutional means to restore law and order. This would be achieved through the repression of dependent and deviant groups of people that were made up of immigrants and the poor. Increased incarceration was thus consideration to bring about repression and control within the country and avoid dominance by the immigrants (Wacquant, 2010).
Social revolution against discrimination was a cause for the increased incarceration. This is because the revolution was accompanied by increase in crime as the minor groups protested against exploitation. Rebellion from the different groups of people where each group sought recognition escalated into the break down of the social structure.
Drug abuse, sabotage and strikes took the toll as profits and quality declined heavily. The legal framework ceased to be effective as obedience was not considered to be important. As a result there was need to reinforce the anti-crime unit and the only way that seemed plausible was through a prison industrial-complex that would see to it that every law offender was kept behind bars, hence increasing the rate of incarceration.
Increased immigration was associated with increase in crime. A study by the United States Immigration Commission asserted that different kinds of races and nationalities exhibited different criminal characteristics. Crime and criminal behavior was deemed to be inherent among the blacks. According to Wacquant, the blacks took advantage of their freedom from slavery to engage in crime. As a means of enhancing the servitude and exploitation of the blacks while at the same time ensuring order, they were imprisoned. During this time more blacks were found in prisons and the main purpose for their imprisonment was so that they could continue offering their services of labor cheaply to the local farmers and businessmen (Wacquant, 2008).
Economic crisis is another factor that leads to increased incarceration as the well-to-do group adopts measure to ensure public safety. An economic crisis coupled with social instability, were reason enough for the adoption of harsh measures so that this group would safeguard its position in the society. As a result there was an increase in spending to ensure public safety. This led to the allocation of more funds on the penal state as compared with the welfare state.
The issue of racial segregation did not bring about much concern for as long as crime was confined within the different races. For a long time, crime within the black fraternity was not given much consideration for as long crime within the blacks was confined within this community. They lacked legal representation and political leaders hence; little commitment of resources within the black communities among others, that were considered to be second-class. However, with time, black crime spread over to the white communities. It is then that the law was employed to the fullest. This saw a massive number of black people in jail.
Increased incarceration was seen as a move to restore peace and calmness in America. President Nixon saw this as the most effective way through which crime would be dealt with in America. Crime was on the rampant increase in the United States by the time Nixon was elected as president. Social inequality was a critical factor that was considered as having the potential to result into a political rebellion by the immigrants against the Americans. An increase in drug abuse and a drift from the cultural norms and values brought about the need of an effective remedy that would see to it that law and order became restored and maintained. Therefore, incarceration was adopted.
Law and order is very crucial in every society. Incarceration is one way through which law and order can be maintained. However, it is important for this kind of action to be taken up with all fairness without the intention of exploiting some individuals or groups of people.