Is Prison Distorting our Picture of Black Progress?

"The effects of large-scale imprisonment makes it hard to effectively craft social policy," says Pettit

Mass incarceration has had such an impact on black American life that some researchers posit that it has muddied our picture of black progress.

Becky Pettit, a sociologist at the University of Washington, writes in her new book, “Invisible Men,” that the effects of large-scale imprisonment makes it hard to effectively craft social policy, according to the New York Times.

Blacks account for nearly half of the more than 2.3 million Americans in prison or jail. Failure to include them in measures of black progress, she argues, is akin to leaving states out of national counts. Former inmates, too, tend to be undercounted because they are typically poor, mobile and living precariously.

“We collect data to evaluate public policy and allocate resources,” Dr. Pettit says. “One could argue that we already provide social service to inmates, but leaving them out of the data distorts measures of progress.”

Read the whole story at the New York Times

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