Slavery’s Legacy: Mass incarceration



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Negative generational trajectories in the black community cannot be improved without addressing mass incarceration’s contribution to them. This research project identifies the population impacted the most by female mass incarceration and the extent to which mass incarceration stems from slavery. An obstacle encountered while conducting this research was the lack of consistent data on incarcerated women’s experience, in and out of the system. Lack of data collection on incarcerated women perpetuates the systematic neglect they experience. For this reason, the methodology of this project includes creating conclusive incarceration trends datasets by compiling various data reports from the United States Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS). Data analysis of the complied datasets revealed racial disparities in policing and arresting inequalities by zip code. These arrests exacerbate economic hardship in black communities and lead to the criminalization of poverty. This project illuminates how state-sanctioned inequalities, beginning with slavery, have been recycled rather than eliminated. Generational cycles of poverty and incarceration are modeled through the historically black and low SES zip codes created during Redlining (1934-1968) that continue to be targeted by police departments in Harris county today. This research is part of a long-term project focused on eliminating the barriers faced by previously incarcerated women in re-entry in Harris county.