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10 Criminology & Pub. Pol'y 865 (2011)
Countering the Carceral Continuum: The Legal of Mass Incarceration

handle is hein.journals/crpp10 and id is 875 raw text is: POLICY ESSAY
Countering the carceral continuum
The legacy of mass incarceration
Carla Shedd
Columbia University
resounding call has been made for a 21st-century human rights movement that
will respond to the damage that mass incarceration has done to the collective
realization of our American ideals of opportunity, fairness, and equality (Alexander,
2010). The intergenerational transmission of inequality should be the centerpiece of this
future movement. Wakefield and Wildeman (2011, this issue) fulfill the increased demand
from policy makers for criminologists to demonstrate how and why parental incarceration
profoundly impacts children. Their article does a great deal to extend our understanding
of the long-term consequences of the recent prison boom in the United States, especially if
we consider the downright staggering racial disparities in those who personify the collateral
damage in our nation's protracted, yet failing, War on Drugs. After briefly summarizing the
results and policy implications of their article, I will present my thoughts on America's
racial-spatial concentration of imprisonment, the concomitant social reproduction of
disadvantage, and the malign neglect of the incarcerated and their progeny. In fact, the
tainted legacy of mass incarceration is about all that these children stand to inherit in the
current era.1
Direct correspondence to Carla Shedd, Department of Sociology, Columbia University, Knox Hall, Mail Code
9649,606 West 122nd Street, New York, NY 10027 (e-mail: cs2613@columbia.edu).
1.  Recent books by Alexander (2010), Hagan (2010), Peterson and Krivo (2010), and Sugrue (2010) are only
a small sample of research that has pushed me toward thinking the plight of African Americans is
particularly different from many other racial and ethnic groups on the dimensions of inequality and
criminal injustice and could be the mark of a new racial caste (in accordance with Alexander's bold
arguments in The New Jim Crow). Therefore, I respectfully disagree with Wakefield and Uggen's (2010)
assertion that the social exclusion of all prisoners and former prisoners rarely approaches caste-like
levels; instead, they believe current and former prisoners are perhaps best characterized as a Weberian
status group sharing similar life chances determined by a common and consequential mark of
[dis]honor (388).
DOI: 10.111 1/j.1745-9133.2011.00748.x    0 2011 American Society of Criminology  865
Criminology r Public Policy * Volume 10 * Issue 3

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