Mass Incarceration: A Civil Rights Crisis

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The United States has merely 5% of the world’s population, yet nearly 25% of the world’s prisoners.

North Carolina Advocates for Justice hosted a conference in October 2015, presented by the North Carolina Commission on Racial and Ethnic Disparities (NC-CRED), titled “Understanding Mass Incarceration.”

Presenters, panelists, and attendees included academics from several universities and law schools, members of non-profit rights-based organizations and research centers, as well as public defenders, judges, police department personnel (including a police chief), legislators, and members of the community.

The presentations highlighted the serious problems that remain deeply imbedded in the American criminal “justice” system; one presenter went as far as saying that he never referred to it as the criminal justice system, and instead opted for the more realistic phrase, “criminal legal system.” The problem of mass incarceration was referred to as a civil rights crisis, as it negatively affects access to housing, employment, voting, and education.

Underlying the alarming statistics and troublesome case studies there was a “guarded” optimism, shared by most panelists, which provided a sign of hope and demonstrated a commitment to large-scale change moving forward. Initiatives are being pursued by local community groups and state legislatures.

Blog by: Maria Lopez Delgado, 3L, UNC School of Law

Posted by Jennifer Watson Marsh on Fri. November 20, 2015 2:34 PM
Categories: Community Inclusion, Criminal Justice, Law Students, Race Discrimination
UNC School of Law | Van Hecke-Wettach Hall | 160 Ridge Road, CB #3380 | Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3380 | 919.962.5106

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