Blog post #4 -What Marginalized groups are affected by the prison industrial complex? 

What Marginalized groups are affected by the prison industrial complex? 

Just as a reminder my question is how the prison industrial complex affects marginalized groups. In this blog post I will be talking about what groups are affected by the prison industrial complex and how people’s intersecting marginalized identities play a role in how they are affected by the prison industrial complex.  

I spoke about this briefly in my last blogpost but as we know private prisons make money off how any inmates they house. This need for inmates creates a surplus of policing in lower-class, and marginalized areas where often people do not have access to the resources needed to live a “healthy lifestyle”. When people do not have access to the resources and necessities needed to live a healthy life, they turn to crime just to have access to things they need to live. This is a perfect example of how the prison industrial complex functions, the linkage between the government, prisons, policing, and the media. The Government is not providing resources to lower-class and marginalized communities, thus resulting in crime and more people being incarcerated. 

So, who exactly is impacted by the prison industrial complex? Currently in the “USA” half of their prison population is African American and More than 70 percent of people incarcerated are people of color (3). There are a few reasons for this, one of them being the need to fill these for-profit prisons. The political economy of prisons often relies on racist stereotypes of criminality forced upon predominantly black peoples. These racist stereotypes lead injustices such as black men being five times more likely to be arrested for a drug offense than their white counterparts (3). Prisons housing largely people of color is also due to racist practices that happen during arrest, conviction, and sentencing (2). The prison industrial complex not only targets those who are low income and people of color but also those who are mentally ill. in the United States approximately 200,000 of their inmates suffer from a serious mental illness and around 40 percent of individuals with serious mental illnesses go to prison at some point in their lives (4). Instead of being cared for my mental health professionals and given the resources needed to succeed in their communities they opt to put those who are mentally ill in prisons thus making the economy of prisons stronger (3). 

It is also important to talk about how intersecting marginalized identities can play a role in how people are affected by the prison industrial complex. While the rate of incarceration for those who suffer from mental illness, people of color, and those who are lower class is disproportionally high it’s important to note how having these intersecting identities can lead to a higher chance of incarceration. For example, for African American men with no more than a high school education serving time in prison has become the societal norm (1), all Because of their status as a racial minority and their lack of education (thus leading to class inequity). 

In sum the prison industrial complex largely targets people of color (mostly black and brown people) and those without the resources needed to live and receive the help they need. In my next blog post i will be touching on how the prison industrial complex affects these marginalized groups and how/ if the term prison industrial complex is relevant here is so called “Canada.” 

  1. Authors Bruce Western and Becky Pettit, Author Information BRUCE WESTERN, Information, A., & Western, B. (n.d.). Incarceration & Social Inequality. American Academy of Arts & Sciences. Retrieved April 29, 2022, from https://www.amacad.org/publication/incarceration-social-inequality 
  1. Davis, A. (2015, April 18). Masked racism: Reflections on the prison industrial complex. Colorlines. Retrieved April 29, 2022, from https://www.colorlines.com/articles/masked-racism-reflections-prison-industrial-complex 
  1. Schlosser, E. (2020, June 16). The prison-industrial complex. The Atlantic. Retrieved April 29, 2022, from https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/1998/12/the-prison-industrial-complex/304669/ 
  1. Schulman-Hall, J., Marks, Z., Chenoweth, E., Francis, R. W., & DeWolf, R. (2021, July 26). The rebirth of institutionalism: From mental hospitals to the prison industrial complex. Ms. Magazine. Retrieved April 29, 2022, from https://msmagazine.com/2021/07/20/mental-hospitals-prison-industrial-complex-mental-health-illness-women/ 

4 Replies to “Blog post #4 -What Marginalized groups are affected by the prison industrial complex? ”

  1. Hey Sammie, great post! It is clear that you did an extensive research and used very reliable sources. Reading your post was very interesting , and easy to read. This is such a complex topic and I enjoyed how well you explained it.

    Here are some links about how the prison industrial complex affects people of colour:

    http://www.prisonerswithchildren.org/pubs/color.pdf
    https://www.theatlantic.com/video/index/404890/prison-inherited-trait/

    This video is quite long, but you might find it very interesting. Angela Davis is such a great activist and philosopher, and I really enjoy her work: https://guides.library.cornell.edu/davis/prison

    Hope it helps and I’m looking forward to read your next post!

    Sofia B.

    • Thank you so much Sofia I will make sure to check out the links , also I love Angela Davis’s work so much so I’m exited to check out the video!

  2. Hi Sammie, I love the professionalism and seriousness in your writing, I find your topic very interesting because last semester I did my own writing on low-income individuals and families, and now see (Through reading your post) that marginalization of minority groups in prisons is probably also one of the largest factors to the poverty cycle!

    Would you say that (not to get too political) but one of the reasons countries (maybe like the US) accept immigrants from widely larger marginalized minority groups in order to raise their profits?

    Here are some interesting links I found:

    https://www.npr.org/sections/codeswitch/2014/03/13/289000532/why-for-profit-prisons-house-more-inmates-of-color

    https://www.penalreform.org/global-prison-trends-2021/laws-that-discriminate-against-marginalised-groups/

    good luck with your research!!

    – Sanam M.

    • Thank you so much Sanam!
      I really enjoyed reading parts of your project last semester as it is something that interests me . I really like your question about the US accepting immigrants from minority groups in order to raise their profits , and I would probably have to do more research in order to form a solid/unbiased answer but it did make me reflect on how this could be another way in which government and prisons are linked.
      -Sammie

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