Wednesday, August 08, 2007

From "Why Are So Many Americans in Prison" by Glen Loury in the Boston Review:

We have a corrections sector that employs more Americans than the combined work forces of General Motors, Ford, and Wal-Mart, the three largest corporate employers in the country, and we are spending some $200 billion annually on law enforcement and corrections at all levels of government, a fourfold increase (in constant dollars) over the past quarter century.

This country is as rife with institutional and moral crime as it imagines it is with criminals, conventionally understood. Obviously, it's a complicated issue, but the magnitude of the phenomenon and its connection to race should trouble us greatly. I can't help but think of Madness and Civilization and wonder if we are just adding the concept of minorities to the series that, Foucault posited, started with lepers and moved on to insane, thus deepening our own madness.

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