Collateral Consequences of Mass Incarceration
The American Academy of Political and Social Science and The Scholars Strategy Network, in cooperation with the Honorable Robert C. “Bobby” Scott and the Congressional Black Caucus, held a briefing on May 28, 2014, to discuss “The Collateral Consequences of Mass Incarceration: How Punishment has Changed America and How Policy Should Respond.”
Panelists–including Christopher Wildeman, a Yale professor who is one of three special editors of a recent ANNALS volume on the civic consequences of mass incarceration; Bruce Western, a Harvard professor and contributor to the ANNALS
volume; Glen Martin, founder and president of JustLeadership USA, an organization dedicated to helping individuals released from prison become “informed, empowered reform partners”; and the Honorable Cedric Richmond, a representative of the second congressional district of Louisiana–along with moderator, John Laub, a criminology professor at University of Maryland, College Park and former director of the DOJ, were joined by Hill staffers, activists, nonprofits, and scholars at the Rayburn House Office Building on May 28 to discuss what research and real life experiences have told us about (mostly) men’s experiences of incarceration and their post-incarceration struggle in the United States. As all the panelists agreed, incarceration affects not only the men (or women) who are incarcerated, but it also greatly impacts their loved ones–their significant others, their children.
Until the incarceration policies in the United States–specifically the mandatory minimums for certain offenses–are drastically changed, incarceration in the United States will continue to unjustly target low-income, disadvantaged, and mostly African American men. Until our current policies are overhauled, these men’s and their families’ well-being (of which political participation is a part) will continue to suffer long after they have been released from prison.