prisoner rights, race, social science


This Article explores the connection between the dramatic increases in the incarceration of non-whites and the parallel decline in the legal protections for prisoners over the same period. Using the social sciences, the Article suggests that racial tensions play a role in the decisions made by both guards and prison administrators. Further, the authors argue that the communities of these non-white prisoners are the least well equipped to advocate for their well-being. Ultimately, the Article concludes that the law is not currently equipped to confront the possibility of dealing with race-based tensions and structural inequities that are present in the prison system. The authors call for the courts to reassert their role in protecting discrete and insular minorities that lack access to the political power necessary to assert their rights. The Article concludes by making five specific suggestions for reform.



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