Pub. date: 2005 | Online Pub. Date: September 15, 2007 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412952514 | Print ISBN: 9780761927310 | Online ISBN: 9781412952514| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Throughout U.S. history, people of color have been arrested, charged, convicted, and incarcerated at far higher rates than the general population. Racial disparities in the use of imprisonment as a means of social control took root in the North in response to the abolition of slavery and in the South in response to emancipation. Racism in prisons manifested itself not only in disproportionate rates of incarceration of people of color, but also in racial stratification within the prison world. Until the 1960s, nonwhites were barred from employment in many prison systems, and white inmates were treated as belonging to a superior caste inside prisons. At the beginning of the 21st century, race continues to play a key role in prisons, where two-thirds of all inmates are people of color, yet two-thirds of their keepers are white. Inmate social structure is to a considerable extent defined by race, especially in men's ...