Racism and Incarceration

Any engagement with the reality of incarceration in the United States must involve engagement with the reality of racial injustice.  

The Problem

“Sentencing policies, implicit racial bias, and socioeconomic inequity contribute to racial disparities at every level of the criminal justice system. Today, people of color make up 37% of the U.S. population but 67% of the prison population.

Overall, African Americans are more likely than white Americans to be arrested; once arrested, they are more likely to be convicted; and once convicted, they are more likely to face stiff sentences. Black men are six times as likely to be incarcerated as white men and Hispanic men are more than twice as likely to be incarcerated as non-Hispanic white men.”

 From The Sentencing Project – Criminal Justice Facts

The Solution

Racism is not only a sin of individuals who unjustly discriminate or fail to reflect about their own bias.  Racism is also a sin woven into and perpetuated by institutions and structures to which we are all connected.  To resist racism requires action by all to unmask and recreate these structures.

Any engagement with the reality of incarceration in the United States must involve engagement with the reality of racial injustice.

We must overcome all forms of racism, of intolerance and of the instrumentalization of the human person.

- July 18, 2017. (Tweet from @Pontifex) -

Catholic Resources
Against Racism

Open Wide Our Hearts: The Enduring Call to Love - A Pastoral Letter Against Racism, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (2018)

USCCB

Brothers and Sisters to Us: United States Catholic Bishops Pastoral Letter on Racism (1979)

USCCB

Brothers and Sisters All: Pax Christi USA’s 20-year Anti-Racism Initiative

Pax Christi USA

JSRI: Jesuit Social Research Institute’s page on Racism

Jesuit Social Research Institute

Lift Every Voice: A Lenten Journey Towards Racial Justice

Ignatian Solidarity Network

Racism as Soul Sickness: Interview with Bryan Massingale

Bill McCormick, SJ (Ignatian Solidarity Network) 

Racial Justice and the Catholic Church

Fr. Bryan Massingale

Resources
Against Racism and Incarceration

Equal Justice Initiative

EJI

The Sentencing Project on Racial Disparity

The Sentencing Project

Slavery to Mass Incarceration

EJI

The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness

Michelle Alexander