It is a truism that whites are more likely to perceive American criminal justice as just and fair, while blacks are more likely to view the system with distrust and belief it is biased against them. The difference is in the divergent historical and contemporary life experiences of both groups.
Chained to the System: The History and Politics of Black Incarceration in America explores the experience of blacks under American law beginning with the linking of black skin to the institution of slavery, prohibiting the applicability of slave status to whites, and the passage of slave laws that defined protection of legal rights by skin color. Subsequent policies include the development of policing through the use of slave patrols pre-Civil War, the origin of disproportionate black incarceration through the imposition of criminal surety and other involuntary servitude laws post-Civil War, and the “get tough on crime” laws and political rhetoric of presidents Nixon, Reagan, and Clinton.
Presenting these historical events in the context of contemporary discourse on black incarceration and police use of force, Chained to the System provides an unflinching look at American criminal justice and its relationship with blacks.