(photo: Convict tied for punishment, 1930s, Georgia. Photo from http://www.slaverybyanothername.com)
The Racialization of Crime and Punishment
--An Interview With Nancy A. Heitzeg
By Angola 3 News
Nancy A. Heitzeg, Ph.D is a Professor of Sociology and Program Co-Director of Critical Studies of Race and Ethnicity at St Catherine University in St. Paul, Minnesota.
This is the second part of our interview with Dr. Heitzeg. Be sure to read part one, Visiting A Modern-Day Slave Plantation, which also featured our video-interview with Robert Hillary King and Dr. Terry Kupers, Slavery In US Prisons.
Angola 3 News: Your article, "The Racialization of Crime and Punishment: Criminal Justice, Color-Blind Racism, and the Political Economy of the Prison Industrial Complex, " was published in 2008 by American Behavioral Scientist. What are the key arguments that you make, along with co-writer Rose M. Brewer?
Nancy A. Heitzeg: Dr. Brewer and I argue that that the prison industrial complex is the latest in an historically uninterrupted series of legal and political machinations designed to enforce white supremacy with its economic and social benefits both in and with the law--"all domination is, in the last instance, maintained through social control strategies" (Bonilla-Silva 2001:103).
As movements for Abolition and Civil Rights worked to end the institutions of slavery, lynching and legalized segregation, new and more indirect mechanisms have emerged for perpetuating systemic racism and its economic underpinnings. In this era of "color-blind racism," there has been a corresponding shift from de jure racism codified explicitly into the law and legal systems, to a de facto racism where people of color, especially African Americans, are subject to unequal protection of the laws, excessive surveillance, extreme segregation and neo-slave labor via incarceration, all in the name of "crime control." The prison industrial complex is the current manifestation of the legal legacy of the racialized transformations of plantations into prisons, of Slave Codes into Black Codes, of lynching into state-sponsored executions.
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