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What is the effect of mass incarceration on urban black families?
More than seven times as many people are incarcerated in the United States as in Europe. The main victims of the prison boom are minority, particularly African American, men, who, as sociologist Bruce Western has found, are eight times more likely to have served time in prison than white men. The effects of mass incarceration extend beyond the prisoner and his immediate experience of confinement, and can have a significant impact on the prisoner’s family. A slew of recent studies by Western and others suggests that the wave of mass incarceration contributes to the decline of families and the social fabric that binds them, leading to the further disintegration of already-disadvantaged inner-city neighborhoods.
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