Bulging prison system called massive intervention in American family life

The mammoth increase in the United States' prison population since the 1970s is having profound demographic consequences that disproportionately affect black males.

"This jump in incarceration rates represents a massive intervention in American families at a time when the federal government was making claims that it was less involved in their lives," according to a University of Washington researcher who will present findings Sunday (Aug. 3) at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association.

Drawing data from a variety of sources that looked at prison and general populations, Becky Pettit, a UW associate professor of sociology, and Bryan Sykes, a UW post-doctoral researcher, found that the boom in prison population is hiding lowered rates of fertility and increased rates of involuntary migration to rural areas and morbidity that is marked by a greater exposure to and risk of infectious diseases such as tuberculosis and HIV or AIDS.

These effects are most heavily felt by low-skill black males, and she said the disproportionately high incarceration rates among African-Americans suggest the prison system is a key suspect in these demographic results.

Pettit said well-documented facts – one in 100 Americans is behind bars in 2008, about 2.4 million people currently are incarcerated and nearly 60 percent of young black males who dropped out of high school have served time in jail – don't seem to register with Americans.

"These kinds of rates were not historically true 30 years ago. Today, we are giving people custodial sentences that we wouldn't have in the past for victimless crimes. Our justice system has become more punitive," she said, adding that most demographic data collection is decades behind the times and masks this racial disproportionality. That's because most surveys, which are federally funded, were begun in the 1960s and 70s and excluded the prison population, which was significantly smaller at that time.

In addition, she noted that the effects of an ever-growing criminal justice system extend beyond those who are serving sentences to include children, partners and even entire communities. Among the findings outlined in Pettit's presentation are:

-- Rates of positive or latent tuberculosis are 50 percent to 100 percent higher for inmates than for the general population. The TB rate among black inmates is 14.6 percent compared to 8.4 percent for white inmates. Despite substantial declines in the overall risk for TB in the U.S., blacks are eight times more likely to contract the disease than whites.

-- Blacks both inside and out of prison have higher rates of HIV infection than whites. Inmate rates for HIV are 3.5 percent for blacks and 2.3 percent for whites, although Pettit said this data is weak because many inmates have not been tested for HIV or will not say if they are HIV positive.

-- The number of black men living in rural, or non-metropolitan, areas increases dramatically when the inmate population is included because many jails and prisons are located in rural locations.

-- Rates of childlessness are higher for both black and white inmates than the general population. Sixty-four percent of non-prison white men have children, but that number drops to 50.6 percent of jailed white men. Among blacks, 71.7 percent of the non-prison men have children while 61.7 percent of those in jail are fathers.

The survey focused on African-Americans and non-Hispanic whites because earlier surveys did not collect data about such groups as Hispanics or Asian-Americans or because the sample sizes from these groups were too small to draw valid statistical judgments. The study also only looked at men between the ages of 25 and 44 and broke them into three groups – high school dropouts, high school graduates and those with a college degree or some college education

Pettit said she hopes her work can be a springboard for better and more inclusive data collection that paints a more accurate demographic picture of the U.S. population.

"We usually don't think of the prison system as something that is a policy shift. But the public health risks and the effects on migration and fertility show that it has had fundamental consequences for all of us," she said.

"It is in our own self-interest to be concerned. And certainly from a fiscal standpoint we have an interest. In times of financial difficulty, we have a fixed amount of money and for every dollar we spend on incarceration we have one dollar less to spend on education and other things. This is a challenging public policy question."

Source: University of Washington


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Citation: Bulging prison system called massive intervention in American family life (2008, August 3) retrieved 15 October 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2008-08-bulging-prison-massive-intervention-american.html
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Aug 03, 2008
I can't vouch for the statistics but I won't refute them either. What I disagree with is statements such as "This jump in incarceration rates represents a massive intervention in American families" and "Today, we are giving people custodial sentences that we wouldn't have in the past for victimless crimes. Our justice system has become more punitive,". Both of these statements are pure hogwash. A family isn't a mans girlfriend and the offspring of which he has never seen or rarely visits.
Its not that we're more punitive. I've seenFlorida and Vermont judges still applying 60 day sentences to individuals guilty of child molestation. The fact of the matter is that in many urban areas and even in suburbia, the family unit has broken down. Children are much more rebellious and don't get the guidance a two parent family with parenting skills would be able to provide. Instead, these boys turn to the street and a brotherhood of thieves, rapists, murderers , extortionists, conmen, drug dealers and stick up men. This is where they get their education. They generally drop out of school. The far left calls them victims providing them with cover to continue the lives they know. The educationsl system is totally broken and unwilling to accept any blame, opting to point fingers at legislatures claiming they don't have enough money even though in 1950 dollars they have exponentially more than ever in history. The voting masses who were 'educated' by this same system believe everything that they tell them over and over and over again. The cycle continues.....

Aug 03, 2008
The chap above is a perfect example with hilarious remarks claiming families are not "real families". Real families only exist in his white suburb and vote republican. 2.4 million people in prison is not a real number because of the "far-left" and "the masses".

The real problem is that kind of rush limbaugh ignorant dehumanising racism.

Aug 03, 2008
I don't think thku4grace has provided enough information to be labeled as an ignorant dehumanizing racist. In fact a person that uses that sort of label based on such a small amount of information is probably a racist themselves.

Yes there are a lot of people in U.S. prisons and it would be a racist statement to call them American Prisons when America is a huge double continent and we are only discussing one small country.

Unfortunately most U.S. Citizens, legislators et. al. are racists both black and white but I can see that the black U.S. racists citizens are complaining about the white racist citizens without realizing that they too are racists.

If ever the education system improves in the U.S. maybe the number of racists will drop but I doubt it. I think it needs real reform. Grass roots reform. A complete change in thinking with much more socialist policies before the racial problems will drop off.

Aug 03, 2008
What is the difference between ...

"... she said the disproportionately high incarceration rates among African-Americans ..."

and

"... she said the high incarceration rates among African-Americans ..."

Does "disproportionately" in the former sentence's context really mean "white racist majority inflicted"? When will these damn liberals let us off the hook? I'm sorry that the high incarceration rates of blacks is directly attributable to bad or missing parenting (by far #1), poverty (tho I'm skeptical on that one as there's scads of social programs to cover), hypocracy in religion, TV, rap music, gangs, etc ... but I don't see anything there that could be perceived as the white man keeping the black man down. The current solution is just to throw more money at them, which will pacify, but not change things long term, and could lead to a taxpayer revolt someday.

Aug 03, 2008
Our system is becoming more interventionist ... period! It is not just criminal cases. Government is taking a much deeper interest in all aspects of human life. In fact, I'd say that this is becoming a modus for self preservation. Good luck to us all... well, all on private payrolls anyway. Government is taking very good care of itself already.

Aug 03, 2008
Damn right bob!

Aug 04, 2008

"2.4 million people in prison is not a real number because of the "far-left" and "the masses"

Nilbud's comment above is a great example example of the same old tired example of the far left trying to keep the black man down and dependent upon the same politics that put him where he is today. What a tragedy!

Aug 04, 2008
The TB rate among black inmates is 14.6 percent compared to 8.4 percent for white inmates. Despite substantial declines in the overall risk for TB in the U.S., blacks are eight times more likely to contract the disease than whites.
Um I am not a math genius but how are they 8x more likely to get TB if the percent is nearly 50/50? I don't know but to me it looks as if someone is editing results...

Aug 04, 2008

"Um I am not a math genius but how are they 8x more likely to get TB if the percent is nearly 50/50? I don't know but to me it looks as if someone is editing results... "

The 8x figure is for overall risk in the u.s. The 14 vs 8 percent figure is for prison population.

Aug 04, 2008
It is increasingly obvious that many (most?) in the black community are incapable of rationally and calmly discussing ANY issue that might portray that community in a less than complimentary and glowing light. And so any time the charge of (white) racism is gratuitously deployed, you know that this kind of intellectual or moral incapacity is at play. And so you know that those that deploy the charge of white racism typically are the most racist -- and intellectually dishonest -- themselves.

Now, on topic. Vellanarris is correct %u2013 too many non-violent offenders go to jail while the violent ones are released all too often. However, this does not change the fact that the black population exhibits a much higher rate of violence and homicide than the white community, whether it's in Detroit USA, or London UK, or the Caribbean, or Zimbabwe. All the politically-correct drivel will not change that. A cursory look into the FBI Annual Crime report reveals the racial breakdown in the States. The prison incarceration rates merely reflect that. This is what needs to be said as a commentary to the article. Was Jesse Jackson "a white racist" for sadly noting that when walking at night in WDC and hearing strangers walking behind him he feels relieved to find out that it's whites and not blacks?

Anyone with a modicum of intelligence knows that human behavior is shaped both by the environment and by genes. There have been two flawed schools of thought on the subject.

1) The Nazi school. Everything exclusively is a function of race. And the environment? It doesn't mean anything, they said. And then, as they drove the most cultured nation of Europe into a brutality befitting of stone age, they nearly proved the opposite %u2013 that you can over-ride some excellent genes with savage environment.

2) The second school of thought is Marxist -- the Boasian school of anthropology (and that's where we are). It takes the other polar extreme %u2013 that presumably it's all environment. And group genetics, racial characteristics? "They don%u2019t mean anything," they say. And as the racially-egalitarian establishment has been racially discriminating against whites for 30 years now (see affirmative action), as they are nearly bankrupting this nation with spending on education in the inner cities and on prisons, with disastrous consequences on the first count and barely containing the problem on the second, they are about to prove the opposite %u2013 that group genetics, i.e. racial characteristics, do play an important role, and that we're not all the same.

Even the NYTimes %u2013 the great believer in the racially egalitarian concept of the world %u2013 had an article about Franz Boas, meekly conceding that there seem to have been some serious flaws in his methodology. That's mouthful. This means that even the "true believers" see a problem in the racial egalitarian dogma.

In closing %u2013 this issue is more than just about criminality. I should not need to add that there exist intelligent and not-so-intelligent people, and decent and violent people, in every race and in every ethnic group. However, this little pc truth should not hide the larger un-pc truth: that racial groups are not interchangeable, that statistically speaking, racial differences exist and make a difference between Zimbabwe and Norway. The statistical distribution of IQ is different and the behavioral characteristics differ. It's insanity to claim that blacks are "just as good" in sciences as the Chinese, and that Hispanics are "just as good" in engineering as the Japanese (just that, presumably, whites haven't spent enough money on education to show such equality), or that the Chinese or Japanese have been as inventive as the European Caucasians in every realm of redeeming human endeavor, from medicine to science, engineering, architecture, classical music, civil governance, civil rights, etc.etc.

Lastly, for the feeble souls that may elect to call me nasty names -- racist, blah blah blah -- please exercise self-restraint, because I don%u2019t plan to loose any sleep over any such infantile nonsense. The concept of racial egalitarianism is a spectacular fraud perpetrated upon the humankind. In sciences, NOTHING is ever taken for granted, or accepted a-priori, unless it has been proven first. No one in the history of the world has proven that various races exhibit the same behavior or same capabilities in every discipline, and yet the Marxist-Boasian school requires that we do just that -- all in light of overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

http://www.amren....ime.html

http://www.amren....nics.htm

http://www.amren....dex.html


Aug 04, 2008
No sooner did I type my last post when a black guy has murdered another victim.
http://www.wsoctv...ail.html

These people appear to exhibit a genetically-based propensity to violence.

See how that fits with the original article, with all the excuses being sought for the pathologies in the black community.

Aug 07, 2008
No sooner did Ernest01 type his last post that I wanted him to be the victim.
He exhibits a genetically-based propensity for hate, the concomitant of violence.
In the 1950's lobotomies were in vogue for people with his pathology as were his archaic arguements.
As far as statistics go a man much smarter than Ernest01 once said "there are lies, dammed lies and statistics".
Finally, in the name of Science he invokes alot of antiquated/culturally biased "notions" as a-priori proof thus slandering the methodology he panders to.

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