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Nonfiction Reviews - Race, Incarceration, and American Values

Publication Date: 
June 30, 2008
Source: 
Publishers Weekly

Publishers Weekly reviews a new book co-authored by Pam Karlan:

Race, Incarceration, and American Values, Glenn C. Loury with Pamela Karlan, Tommie Shelby and Loïc Wacquant

In this pithy discussion, renowned scholars debate the American penal system through the lens—and as a legacy—of an “ugly and violent” racial past.

Economist Loury argues that incarceration rises even as crime rates fall because “we have become increasingly punitive.” According to Loury, the “disproportionately black and brown” prison populations are the victims of civil rights “opponents” who successfully moved the country's race dialogue to a “seemingly race-neutral concern over crime.

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Three shorter essays respond: Stanford law professor Karlan examines prisoners as an “inert ballast” in redistricting and voting practices...

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The group's respectful sparring results in an insightful look at the conflicting theories of race and incarceration, and the slim volume keeps up the pace of the argument without being overwhelming. (Sept.)