Glenn Loury: Race, incarceration, and American values

October 29, 2012 1:17:16
Kaltura Video

In this Center for Public Policy in Diverse Societies talk, Glenn Loury discusses race, incarceration, and American values. September, 2012.


>> Hello everybody.  Good afternoon and welcome.  I'm Susan Collins, the Joan and Sanford Weill Dean here at the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy.  And I'm delighted to have all of you here this afternoon for another, in our series of policy talks, at the Ford School.  I'd like to extend a special welcome, to our speaker, Professor Glenn Loury, who I will introduce in just a few moments.  Today's event is sponsored by the Ford's School Center for Public Policy in Diverse Societies, and our Diversity Center  I'd like -- just like to tell you a couple of things about it, for those of you who may not know.  It is intended as a first of its kind initiative that is designed to shed light on how policy -- how public policy can most effectively navigate the opportunities and the challenges that arise, as societies become increasingly diverse; locally, nationally, and globally.  There are a number of academic institutions that have addressed issues of diversity through a variety of different lenses.  They've focused on the social sciences, on education, on business, and on law.  But the Center for Public Policy in Diverse Societies here, is really the first university-based effort, that we're aware of, that focuses on the public policy perspective and issues associated with diversity.  The Ford School and our Diversity Center will continue to host distinguished speakers and I hope that you will visit our web page.  We have a calendar, which shows upcoming events and we hope that you will continue to join us and spread the word about the things that we have coming up.  And now, my pleasure to introduce our speaker.  Glen Loury is a distinguished economist, a prominent social critic, and an adviser to business and political leaders across the county.  A native of the south side of Chicago, Professor Loury worked his way up from a job in a printing plant, to a Ph.D.  at MIT in 1976.  And he started his career at Northwestern University in the late 1970s, as an assistant professor of economics.  And during that time, he taught in a summer program that was sponsored by the American Economic Association.  And that's actually where I first met him.  I was a student in that summer program, which is still going on.  It's intended to diversify the economics profession.  And so, I first learned about Glen Loury as my Micro Economics professor.  And I know there are a number of you in the room who are studying Micro Economics.  And so I have many, many fond memories about those equations and all of the things that -- that I learned and have continued to use throughout my career.  Glenn was also on the Economics Department faculty here at Michigan, from 1979 to 1982, before becoming the first tenured African American professor in Harvard's Economics Department.  His academic career has taken him to Boston University, where he founded the Institute on Race and Social Division.  And he's currently the Merton P. Stoltz Professor of the Social Sciences at Brown University.  In addition to his scholarly works, Dr. Loury is a regular commentator on public radio and television, and a widely sought-after public speaker.  He's dedicated his career and his research to exploring issues of race and equality and the persistent lack of opportunities for African Americans in many spheres of American society.  And recently, has been branching out to look at a number of internationally related issues, as well.  Today, he will focus on the massive incarceration rate in the U.S.  And address the important question, of why racial minorities comprise such a disproportionate share of our prison population.  Is it a result simply of rising crime rates, or does it reflect American values in the post-civil rights era?  Has our society created a pipeline to prison that disadvantages minority communities?  Professor Loury has graciously agreed to take questions after his talk.  And so, around 4:30, our staff will be circulating and I hope that, if you're interested in sharing a question, that you have received a card.  There are cards that are available.  And our staff will collect your cards.  Professor Elisabeth Gerber will select questions and they will be read by Ebony Wells [assumed spelling], Executive Secretary of The Students of Color in Public Policy, one of the organizations here at the Ford School.  So, with no further ado, please join me in welcoming Professor Loury to the podium.
[ Applause ]
Thank you Suzy.  Thank you very much.  A pleasure to be here -- be back here at the Ford School.  I have a text, I'm going to read a little bit of it. 
So this lecture is about human values.  I'm going to try, without apology, to reach beyond science, with a capital S and, given the limit of my abilities, to address deeper questions.  Anything less, in my humble opinion, would be to evade my responsibilities to my country and to my people.  Of course, as an economist, and an academic, I also have professional responsibilities.  An occasion such as this is no place for summarizing.  This is a place for analysis.  The coin of the realm here would be argument and evidence.  Not moral outrage or rhetorical verve.  This is hardly the time for me, quite obviously, an African American, to play a race card. Which is to say, to claim some moral authority that derives from social identity, or to trade on insider status, or to appeal to such sympathies in this audience, as my social identity might provoke.  Still, I am a black American male, standing before you to address the ethics of mass incarceration in this race-conscious, racially divided, nation.  As it happens, I have passed through the courtroom and the jailhouse, on my way to this distinguished podium.  I have sat in the visitor's room at a state prison.  I have known personally, and intimately, men and women who live their entire lives with one foot to either side of the law.  And in my mind's eye I can envision voiceless and despairing people, who would hope I might represent them on an occasion such as this.  I know that these revelations may discredit me in some quarters.  Some may even assume that I'm siding with the "thug," and not the victims of senseless violence.  Truth be told, some would assume that no matter what I might say here, so deeply...
...sorry I lost my place -- some would assume that no matter what I might say here, so deeply entrenches this binary opposition in the American public mind.  So I'll not even bother to try to refute the charge.  
For better or worse, my racial identity is not irrelevant here, neither is it irrelevant to consideration of the ethics of mass punishment that millions -- the millions who now languish in custody and under state supervision are drawn disproportionately from the ranks of the black and the brown.  There can be no need to justify injecting race into this discourse.  Our prisons are the most race-conscious public institutions that we have.  No big city police officer is color blind, nor arguably could any afford to be.  Crime and punishment in America have a color.  Just turn on a television, or open a magazine, or listen carefully to the rhetoric of a political campaign and you'll see what I mean.  Some radical critics even liken today's prisons boom to the slavery of yester-year.  
But, we don't have to go that far to see that race is an important aspect of what's going on.  So, given all of this, what is a self-respecting, black, social scientist to do?  Science may be necessary, but it's certainly insufficient here.  Consider what I take to be a first order point.  No cost-benefit analysis of our historic prison buildup over the last 35 years is possible without specifying in the calculation how one is to reckon with the pain being imposed on the persons imprisoned, their families, and their communities.  This, of course, has not stopped many writers from pronouncing on the purported benefits and cost of incarceration, without bothering to address this fundamental moral question.  How to value this aspect of policy is to my mind, a salient ethical issue.  Punishment politics, it seems to me, invariably discounts the humanity of the thieves, drug sellers, prostitutes, rapists, and yes, of those whom we unceremoniously put to death.  It gives insufficient weight to the welfare, to the humanity of those people knitted together with offenders, the networks of social and psychic affiliation.  It should be clear that social science has no answer for the question of what weight to put on a "thug's" well-being, or that of his wife, or her husband, or his daughter, or her son.  Nor, can science tell us how much additional cost born by the offending class, is justified in order to obtain a given increment in security of life and property, or even in peace of mind, for the rest of us.  To illustrate, consider some recent discussion of the ethics of racial profiling.  The obvious cost-benefit take on that problem goes more less as follows.  Screening resources are scarce.  So, an agent who seeks to detect an unobserved hazard can do so more efficiently by making use of any readily observable information that correlates with the present of the -- presence of the hazard.  
If it is known that dangerous people are drawn disproportionately from a group whose members look a certain way, designing a screening process in light of that knowledge eases the monitoring problem.  Some have even argued that it's morally acceptable to do this when the stakes are sufficiently great, and the alternatives limited.  Even if the costs may fall disproportionately on a disadvantage group.  A social scientist sees easily, how that analysis might go, and yet, I find such arguments deeply unsatisfactory.  Because when we undertake to classify people categorically, or to treat them differently based on this categorization, we're doing more than simply solving a resource allocation problem.  We are also committing an expressive act.  In effect, declaring how we are to look upon, and relate to one another in this society.  It seems to me that the decision as to whether or not, one wants to make such a statement is often the whole ball game and yet, how would the "costs and benefits" in quotes, associated with such constituative expressive public action, be reckoned.  Institutional arrangements for dealing with criminal offenders in the United States have evolved to serve expressive, as well as instrumental, ends.  We have wanted, collectively, as a society, to send a message through our policies and have done so with a vengeance.  In the process, we have created facts.  We have constituted certain social relations between certain elements in our polity.  We have, in effect, answered the question, who is to blame for the maladies, which beset our troubled civilization.  We have constructed a national narrative, creating scapegoats along the way.  We've indulged our need to feel virtuous about ourselves.  To assuage our fears.  We have met the enemy and the enemy is them.  In the mist of this dramaturge unavoidably so in America, lurks a potent, racial subplot.  Deciding how citizens of varied social rank within a common polity, ought to relate to one another, is a more fundamental consideration, than is deciding which course of action is most efficient.  The question of relationship.  The issue of solidarity.  The challenge of deciding who belongs to the body politic, and who deserves civic excommunication.  These are philosophical concerns of the highest order.  It makes about as much sense to speak of the benefits and cost of citizens relating to one another this way or that, as it does, to speak of the benefits and cost of dying for one's country.  Again, I regret to report this has not stopped some social scientist from speaking in precisely this way.  Still, in my humble opinion, when the question becomes, what manner of people are we Americans? It is utterly foolish, worse, it merely dangerous, to look to science for an answer. Or, put differently, a decent society will on occasion, elect to issue the official course of action for the simple reason that, to follow it would be to act as though we are not the people we have determined ourselves to be.  Echoing Kant, to act in a way that is contrary to calculated interest, may be the only way to give evidence of our decency.  In any event, the cost-benefit calculus is surely insufficient to the prescriptive task here.  Now, a critic is going to come along and say, "But you have simply failed fully to account for all the costs and benefits.  Doing so allows value commitments to be taken into account."  I understand that argument, but I reject it.  Occasions will arise, where in the nature of the case, such a modified accounting is impossible in principle.  It strikes me that asserting the propriety of creating a racially defined pariah class in the middle of our great cities, at the start of the 21st century, presents us with just such a case.  But then, if social sciences insufficient, here where ought we look for guidance?  My answer has been that we ought to look to social philosophy and to history.  We ought to be guided by our reasoned assessment of our first principles, such as that undertaken by philosophers like John Rawls and his lifelong project, and grounded in an interactive interpretation of our essential national character.  Such as that that has been exemplified by Michael Walzer in his work on interpretation of social criticism.  And we ought to be asking ourselves two questions.  Just what manner of people are we Americans?  And what, then, must we do?  That's all well and good, Professor Loury, but what has race got to do with any of this?  I can almost hear this perennial American question coming in from my right with toe-taping impatience.  My answer is that, only someone as willfully blind to our history as was the United States Supreme Court in its 1987 decision in the case McCleskey versus Kemp.  Which upheld the constitutionality of capital punishment in the face of overwhelming evidence that its application in a state of Georgia, reflected blatant racial bias, could even ask such a question in the first place.  Let me remind you of what the court did in this case.  McCleskey drew on a statistical study performed by Professor David C. Baldus and his colleagues, at Northeastern University, that demonstrated disparities and the imposition of the death sentence in Georgia based primarily on the race of the murder victim.  Focusing on more than 2,000 Georgia murder cases during the 1970s, The Baldus study demonstrated that the death sentence was imposed in 22% of the cases involving black defendants and white victims, 8% of the cases involving white defendants and white victims, 1% of the cases involving black defendants and black victims, and 3% of the cases involving white defendants and black victims.  Even after accounting for some 39 nonracial variables in a multi-variable regression analysis, the study found that defendants charged with killing white victims, were 4.3 times as likely to receive a death sentence, as defendants charged with killing blacks.  Now, Randall Kennedy, has argued in his impressive study, "Race, Crime, and the Law," that, and I quote him here just briefly, "Despite the systematic evidence, the U.S. Supreme Court voted 5 to 4 to uphold McCleskey's death sentence.  In its majority opinion, the Court dismissed the Baldus study, as indicating a discrepancy that only appeared to correlate with race."  Quoting the Court's decision, "Apparent disparities in sentencing, are an inevitable part of our criminal justice system.  Where the discretion that this fundamental to our criminal process is involved, we decline to assume that what is unexplained is invidious.  We hold that the Baldus study does not demonstrate a constitutionally significant risk of racial bias, affecting the Georgia's capita sentencing process."  And Justice Scalia added in his own opinion this, and I quote him, "The unconscious operation of irrational sympathies and antipathies, including racial, upon jury decisions and hence, prosecutorial discretion decisions is real, acknowledged in the decisions of this court and ineradicable."  Closed quote.  Our racial history in this country casts a long shadow, even to this day influencing the deliberation of jurors in capital cases, but are its effects genuinely ineradicable, as Justice  Scalia would have it?  Are they really of no contemporary ethical significance?  In his influential study, "Slavery and Social Death," historical sociologist, Orlando Patterson argues, that one can't understand slavery without grasping the importance of honor.  More than an institution allowing property in people, slavery was, for Patterson, the "Permanent violent domination of nattily alienated and generally dishonored persons."  He argued in that 1982 book, that the hierarchy of social standing, master over slave,  reinforced by ritual and culture is what distinguishes slavery from any of the system of forced labor.  In the American context, obviously, the rituals and customs that supported this hierarchical order, the system of taking for granted meanings that made possible an adherence to high enlightenment ideals in the mist of widespread human bondage, came to be closely intertwined in both the popular and elite culture with ideas about race.  As such, dishonor, shown by Patterson to be a generally defining feature slavery became, in the American case, at hand inseparable from the social meaning of race.  So, my historical interpretive syllogism hears this, in general slaves are always profoundly dishonored persons.  In the experience of the United States, slavery was a thoroughly racial institution, and so the social meaning of race emergent in American political culture mid-19th century was closely connected to the slaves dishonorable status.  Now, that was a long time ago, I grant the point.  Yet, I hope that remnants of this ignoble history are discernible in the nation's present-day, public culture.  Moreover, I simply note here, that the historian, Khalil Gibran Muhammad, in his masterful book, "The Condemnation of Blackness," Harvard Press, 2010.  Khalil Mohammad, currently the director of the Schomburg Center for African American Culture in New York City, and previously a professor of history at Indiana University -- Indiana University. Traces carefully, the impact of racial stigma and ideas that come out of the mid-19th century on, conceptualizing and reacting to criminal offending by lower class persons, blacks migrating to American cities from the rural south, whites migrating to American cities at the turn of the 20th century from south and eastern Europe.  And it establishes there, to my satisfaction in any case, the long shadow cast by slavery and the reconciliation of American elites after -- in the postbellum period, on the racial thinking about crime and criminal offending.  That's Khalil Mohammed.  Now, by racial dishonor, I mean something specific, an entrenched inchoate presumption of inferiority, of moral inadequacy, of unfitness for intimacy, of intellectual incapacity, harbored by observing agents when they regard, at least some of the racial marked subjects. 
So, we've come from a history of racial slavery and institutionalized racial subordination, and the principle venue, in which the legacy of that history remains vividly apparent in our public life, is in the realm of punishment.  We're becoming a nation of jailers, and if I may say, racist jailers at that.  We must ask, in light of our history, whether this is the nation we want to be.  And deciding not, then we must do something about it.  Now, true enough attitudes have shifted, over the course of the 20th century and into the 21 century.  We have an African American president.  That's not nothing, although with respect to this problem, it's not much.  In any case, neither is black marginalization nearly as severe as it had once been.  The jury segregation is dead.  The open violence which, was used to once enforce it, has disappeared.  We've made great progress, even so as work over the years of many of the psychology -- social psychology, sociologist Larry Bobo comes to mind, and his colleagues.  More subtle forms of racial bias are discernible in the attitudes of white Americans.  New sources of social and political marginalization of black people have emerged since the end of the civil rights era.  State sanctioned violence continues to ravage the lives of the black -- of the black poor, some among the black poor, and to impede their participation in our common national life.  Contempt for young black men remains abroad in the land, and a new enthusiasm for their debasement has gripped us.  I refer here to the devastating impact on the lives of millions of poor black Americans, that is due to the rise of the national incarceration state. 
  But this is different, my critic is going to say, toe-tapping impatience and all.  Equality before the law, was never meant to imply freedom from the constraint of law.  So long as laws are enforced without racial bias, the mere fact of some disparity in the incidence of incarceration, is in no way indicative of a new anti-black animism, my hypothetical critic might continue.  As I see it, an argument more or less of that form, underlies the passivity, even the enthusiasm, with which so many informed Americans have greeted these new developments.  Many Americans who profess to love liberty, who are most proud of the progress we have made on the civil rights front, upon learning about the rising tide of black imprisonment, must console themselves with just such an argument as this.  A distinguished philosopher friend of mine, an atheist, no less, who shall remain nameless here, once said to me, "Glenn, I don't understand why you continue to complain about there being so many black men in prison.  When more people fall sick, more hospitals are built.  Yet nobody thinks that the mere fact of an increase in hospitalization signals some kind of social failure.  So too with blacks in prison.  Do a crime, whatever your race, and you are justly required to do the time.  All of this is a piece with an increasingly common view, not only on the right, about the woeful tragedy now playing itself out amongst the black poor, which might be paraphrased as follows.  Blacks may languish, but this is their own fault.  There is work available in the inner cities, if the immigrants can find it, why not the blacks?  If the blacks would marry, they would embrace the responsibilities of their own freedom.  They would cease to see themselves as victims, if they would just stop their lawbreaking.  Then their prospects would brighten."  I find this line of argumentation, to be a shockingly ahistorical, shortsighted, and ethically challenged response, to what is one of the great social transformations of our time.  Yet arguments of this kind, emerge naturally from ideas about personal responsibility, personal morality, and social causation that are now abroad in the land.  I know how seductive, this world view can be.  I once made a fine public career, using quite similar arguments myself.  My intent here, is to correct this record and set forth, and defend, an alternative view of the matter.  So, permit me to offer a summary of what I want to try to get across.  I want to suggest, with as much passion as I can muster, for which I offer no apology, somebody has to speak for those juveniles locked in a Florida penitentiary for life without the possibility of parole.  For nonviolent drug offenders serving interminable sentences in a Federal prison, with no human contact for years on end.  For AIDS victims cuffed to their bunks and dying of medical neglect in a quarantined Alabama prison.  If not me and if not now, then who, when?  I want to suggest that the racially despaired incidence of this massive punishment structure is, when viewed in historical context, patently unjust.  And that this situation weakens the legitimacy of the American political project, appropriately so, in the eyes of many of its own citizens, and in view of the great many people throughout the world, who see our social practice, in light of our racial history as barbaric.  And the fact that some of those people are European, doesn't make them wrong.  And what follows, I want to present a cursory overview of the history of the rise of race and class -- of the race class punishment nexus since the 1960s.  Covering the basic facts, concerning incarceration rates and how the incidence of punishment varies by social location.  The social and epidemiological harm that punishment can inflict on the communities, from which offenders come, and to which they return.  And the connection of this development to the rhetoric of social discipline, at large in our political culture of today.  Rhetoric about dependency, personal responsibility, social hygiene, and punishment as the reclamation of public order.  I wish, also, to suggest that history, not theory, not abstract debates about human values that live only in the academy.  History, is presenting us with a nightmare scenario, one that goes to the heart of the contradictions of the liberal democratic society that has been poisoned by race.  Now, I have a problem here.  My recitation of the brutal facts about punishment in today's America, may sound to some like a primal scream of rage at this monstrous social machine that is grinding poor black communities to dust.  And as I have already indicated, these facts do incline me to cry out in despair.  But, I wish not to be dismissed as merely venting anger at the consequences of the failures of my co-racialist.  I very much wish to be taken seriously and analytical, and not only in existential terms.  So I want you to know that I bear a burden here, of trying to make an argument and not only of effecting a certain outrage.  And I'll try to live up to that burden.  We will not have solved our historic, moral problem of the unequal citizenship for the descendants of slaves, which has existed over a century and a half, after the end of emancipation.  Which is built into the social, economic, and political structures of our country.  Civil rights reforms, to the contrary, notwithstanding, unless and until we come, far closer than we are now, to achieving equality of life chances, honor, and public-standing for blacks.  I will be talking about substantive racial justice, not about procedural race neutrality.  Substandard racial justice was not achieved in 1954 with Brown, nor in '64, '65 with the civil rights and the voting rights act.  I want to suggest that the rise of the mass imprisonment state opens a new front in this struggle, for historic justice.  It reflects both, an explicit antacid racism.  By which I mean to say, this policy has sometimes been popular because, and sometimes despite, it having a disproportionately adverse impact on blacks and others.  I know it is not only blacks who are affected.  I will suggest that of all this has occurred, when feasible alternative policies existed, and were known to exist, that might have produced much less harm.  I will suggest that this punishment policy complex, has become a principle way in which racial hierarchy is reproduced in our society and I will insist that this matter requires, and deserves, a concerted attention of the nation's policy makers.  In a rush to declare ourselves healed of the disease of racism, which had festered for a century after emancipation.  In a hurry to celebrate our having solved Gunnar Myrdal's American dilemma, we have embraced what criminologist, Michael Tonry calls, a policy of malign neglect.  And in doing so we, as a society, has stumbled, more or less, wittingly, into a God awful cul de sac.  I will claim that the connection of this apparatus to the history of racial degradation and insubordination in our country, lynching, minstrelsy, segregation, ghetto-ization, is virtually self evident.  And that the racial subtext of our law and order, political discourses over the last three decades, has been palpable.  So, let's take a look at some of the -- at some of the facts.
  Trends in U.S. imprisonment over the last 40 years, have three features that I think are worth calling to your attention.  They are wildly disparate to what one finds in the countries in the west.  They're completely out of line with anything heretofore observed in our own history in this country.  And they are wildly disparate by race and social class.  So here, taking some numbers from Bruce Western's book "Punishment and Inequality in America," Russell Sage Foundation 2008, if I'm not mistaken.  Maybe a little bit earlier than that.  Are some early 21st century comparative data, showing the per 100,000 rates of incarceration in a variety of countries.  
You can see the U.S. is a far outlier, relative to the UK, which leads the pack of west European nations that are depicted there.  And here is the trend over the course of the last three-quarters of the 20th century and into the 21st century, and the incarceration rate within the United States.  And as you can see, the scale of incarceration in the country, this is per 100,000, was relatively stable.  Rising somewhat during the depression, but relatively stable at about low 100s per 100,000.  Until we get to the early 1970s, when a regime shift is evident in the data there with the rapid increase thereafter.  These are the raw numbers of children 14 -- or under, estimated to have a parent incarcerated of the by race.  And you can see there that African Americans are -- children, there are roughly twice as many of them.  These are absolute numbers.  Blacks, of course, are a minority in the population.  The impact of incarcerated parenting, parents who are incarcerated -- the incidents of that phenomenon amongst African Americans is substantial.  I'm really only trying to illustrate the racial disparity in the scale of this phenomenon.  Right.  I want to make the observation that the trends in incarceration rates and in crime rates, are not paralleling one another.  And in that, in fact, the rise that you see here, in incarceration after 1970, continues on after 1990, although at a somewhat reduced rate.  Notwithstanding the fact that crime rates fall dramatically after 1990, a phenomenon that has drawn the attention of many scholars.  And you can see there, superimposed on a graph showing the dark circles, the incarceration rate per 100,000.  The incidents of index crimes per 100,000, the open circles, which takes a downturn after 1990, although incarceration continues to rise.  Likewise, here you can see a somewhat finer depiction of various kinds of crime.  Property and violent crime.  And again, this decline after 1990 is discernible in those data.  It is worth noting, however, that -- and this is Loic Wacquant the sociologist at Berkeley, who stresses this point.  I think he's right.  He doesn't like the term mass incarceration, although that's kind of entered into the lexicon now.  Prefers to say hyper-incarceration, because the phenomenon we're talking about is heavily concentrated amongst nonwhite and poorly educated men.  That's indicated here in this chart, which again, I borrow from the work of Bruce Western, Sociologist at Harvard, where he has estimated the incidence of incarceration for two different cohorts of young men.  Those who were 20 to 34 years old in 1980 and those who were 20 to 34 years old in 2008, the pink and blue bars, respectively.  He breaks it out by race, and by whether or not persons have completed high school and you can see what the data is showing you there.  That's a 37% chance that a 20 to 34-year-old high school dropout will be incarcerated in that cohort of persons who were 20 to 34 years old in 2008.  And this is similar data depicting an estimate of the lifetime risk of incarceration for people in those same cohorts.  This is now the idea that you're estimating the chance that by the time they reach the age of 35, they will have been in prison at some point during their lives, for at least a year for a Felony offense.  That's a 69% lifetime incarceration risk for black, male, high school dropouts, born in that later cohort.  I just have some data here on characteristics of prison population.  I'm not going to dwell on this, but I just want to sort of paint the picture here.  There are, you know, educational attainment, broken out state and federal prisons.  But what you can see there, is two-thirds of state prisoners as of 2004, have less than a high school education.  You can see that 18% of them were Hispanic.  You can see that 43% of them were black, of course those categories overlap; black and Hispanic.  You can see that this is -- I'm looking at state prisoners now, Federal prisoners are little bit older.  But a quarter of them are 27 or younger.  The median age is 34, in 2004 of state prisoners.  They were quite young when they were first arrested.  Nine percent presented heart problems among state prisoners, 14% presented asthma, 9.5% hepatitis.  Mental health issues -- any diagnosed mental health problem, 25% of state prisoners.  Some one in eight had attempted suicide at one point in their life according to their survey.  So, so I guess I've said this, but I'm going to say it again.  I feel like the town crier, given the basic facts, I have to ask myself what's the role of the social scientist here.  It's not just bin counting.  I have to take note of the fact that serious ethical and policy concerns are raised and one has to ask about such a circumstance.  How did it come to pass?  What were the motives of key decision makers?  Are we looking merely at unintended consequences, or something else?  So, let me.
Return to my text here if I may.  Because it's not only the quantitative magnitude of the expansive incarceration that demands our attention, it's also the qualitative change in our thinking about the role of these institutions that warrants to be remarked upon here.  There has been a qualitative transformation of punishment in America.  In deed, the ideas underlying the doing of criminal justice, the super structure of justifications and rationalizations have also undergone a sea change and a new institutional forms has emerged.  Alongside bureaus of policing and imprisonment, what David Garland, the NYU sociologist calls in his fine book, "The Culture of Control."  New apparatus of prevention and security has arisen, expanding sectors made up of, and I quote Garland here, "Crime prevention organizations, public-private partnerships, community policing arrangements, and multi-agency working practices, that link together the different authorities whose activities bear upon the problem of crime and security.  This sector consists mainly of networks, and coordinating practices, local authority panels, working groups, multi-agency forums, so-called business improvement districts, and various action committees, whose primary task is to link up the activities of existing actors and agencies and direct their effort toward new -- toward crime reduction."  Closed quote, from Garland.  He's quite explicit in -- about the function of these developments.  To keep them away from us.  He says, the prison is used today as a kind of reservation, a quarantine zone, in which purportedly dangerous individuals are segregated in the name of public safety.  It is, and I quote him, "A string of -- it is a string of work-camps and prisons, strong across a vast country, housing millions of people, drawn mainly from classes and racial groups that are seen as politically and economically problematic.  The border between prison and community," Garland says is, and I quote again "Heavily patrolled and carefully monitored to prevent leaking out from one to the other, except there are many leakages.  Those offenders who are released into the community are subject to ever-tighter control and often return to custody for violation of the conditions of their release.  Many of these parolees and ex-convicts are never really free, in that they continue to be closely monitored and never really live a normal life, they suffer as I say, a form of civic excommunication."  Under this brave, new security dispensation, relations between the media, the politicians, and the public have been transformed.  High profile cases get excessive media attention and then general public outrage.  Some predator does an awful thing to an innocent.  The system has failed, yet again, it is said, allowing a perpetrator -- think Willy Horton, out on furlough, releasing an apparently guilty defendant, because the convicting evidence was gathered in violation of the defendant's rights, giving yet another example of revolving door -- so called, revolving door justice.  Calling to mind the old Clint Eastwood "Dirty Harry" from the 1970s.  Public attention in such cases, is typically all out of proportion to the actual frequency of their occurrence  And yet laws, such as three strikes and you're out, or violent sexual predator laws, and political careers can be made on the bases of the public's visceral fear-driven reaction to the publicity given to such events.  In such a way as this by acreation,  has the emphasis of this system been built.  And despite signs that the horrid nature of this shift is being more widely recognized today.  The slow-moving behemoth of a system is unlikely now to be turned on a dime.  Course, this argument for which circumstantial evidence can be adduced as speculative, to some degree.  But something interesting has been going on in the connections between race and imprisonment.  
Toward that end, I was taken by one.  Here I am.  I have to skip by some of this stuff because there's just not enough time.  I do want to talk about the war on drugs, but I want to find my chart first.
Oh here's my chart.  So this is Martin Gilens, the political scientist at Princeton, whose book, "Why Americans Hate Welfare," is not at all -- is quite interesting and not at all unrelated to the phenomenon that I'm talking about here.  I think because the shift in thinking about social supports for poor people, for dependent families.  For mothers who have children without husbands and the shift in thinking about punishment, are affecting similar populations, and again, it's speculative, but I think not implausible, driven by similar underlying political dynamics.  What this graph shows is answers to, in the general social survey, questions designed to elicit people's attitudes of approval or not for the welfare state.  And their added -- their liberalness with their respects to racial attitudes.  Racial and welfare policy preferences over that period.  And what you can see is that, prior to the mid 1960s, there was little correlation year to year in the movement in this survey -- this annual survey of American attitudes.  But after 1960, they tend to move fairly closely together.  Which doesn't prove anything of course, but is at least suggestive of the fact that something -- something is going on.  Anyway, let me back up here.  Okay.  And then there's the war on drugs.  Extent massive, incidence vastly unequal by race, effectiveness dubious.  There was a popular book out there by a woman called Michelle Alexander, "The New Jim Crow," this book is called.  It's a good read.  It's sold a lot of copies and it's gotten a lot attention.  Alexander is a law professor at Ohio State.  An African American woman who had been a prosecutor for the NAAC -- I mean a prosecutor?  A civil rights lawyer for the NAACP legal defense fund earlier in her career, and has issued this cry from the heart, about the extent to which imprisonment has become, what she calls the new Jim crow.  Now, I'm somewhat dubious about the analogy to Jim Crow.  I think those kind of analogies are more rhetorical than they are of analytic insight.  But, in any case.  She fingers the war on drugs as a principle aspect of this new regime that we've entered into, and I think that that's something  that deserves to be taken seriously, and let me just give you an indication of what it is that I'm talking about here.  So, this just shows you what the war on drugs is, if you measure that by the federal budget spent on drug control policy of all kinds.  We have the numbers there in constant dollars from 1986 through the end of the 20th century.  And you see a real takeoff.  I mean that's two billion dollars.  Those are thousands of millions of dollars down there.  So that's two billion dollars in 1986 on all forms of drug control efforts, at the federal level, domestic and international and inter-cition efforts, as well as money spent by the federal government on treatment and prevention.  And that rises to 18 billion, up by a factor of nine over a 15 year period in that data.  And you can see that the bulk of the increase is associated with domestic law enforcement.  But in any case, that's the war on drugs rendered in a -- in a single picture.  And this is the survey results of American 12th graders reporting drug use in the -- illicit drug use in the last 30 days, by various substances.  All illicit drugs is the top line, marijuana and cocaine, and then other illicit drugs are broken out, separately.  And what you can see there is that there is a secular decrease in drug use amongst 12th graders in the United States that -- can I do this here, it kind of looks like I can do this here -- that begins when?  It begins in the late 1970s and has already decreased precipitately during the '80s.  It begins before the war on drugs, shown to you by that expenditure chart, had it's onset.  And then experiences an increase, even though we're at the -- okay, again, I'm not arguing causality here, I'm just making the circumstantial observation that decline in drug use pre-dates the war on drugs and it -- drug use rises sharply even after the war has been initiated.  Drug use in the United States is quite high, compared with other countries, not withstanding that we've been at war for a couple of decades.  So, this is early 21st century comparative data.  I'm taking this from a paper by John Donahue at Yale Law school.  But you can see here, cannabis use in the United States and New Zealand.  I don't know what's going on in New Zealand, but are distinctly higher than what's reported at least, in the other countries that are represented there.  Likewise, cocaine usage in the United States is a dramatic outlier relative to other countries that are noted there.  And Donahue and his colleagues make the point that, you know, if you want to believe that our effort at containing drug use has been effective, then you have to think that drug prevalence in the U.S. would stand out even more globally, if we hadn't followed these policies and I think there's good reason to doubt that. Likewise, the Rand Corporation does a survey in American cities to try to estimate the quality adjusted price of the various illicit substances on the streets of American cities.  Over of this period -- 20 year period, 1980 to 2000.  The graph is somewhat difficult to read.  But I'll just tell you that the lines that you see sloping down there, with one exception that spikes up in the late '80s, early '90s and then trends down again.  Are the quality adjusted prices on the American streets for various substances, cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamine.  And they're all trending down -- sharply down.  While the lines that you see going up, there, the solid line is an index of incarceration for drug offenses over this period.  And the dash line is an index of frequency with which emergency room treatments, involve the mention of some drug abuse as the cause for the person coming into the emergency room.  And they're trending up.  And I'm not proving anything, but drugs are cheaper over the 20 year period on American streets, when we were supposed to be constricting supply through the policy, we might have expected prices to rise.  And likewise, problems that people are running into using drugs have increased over this period.  Tobacco more addictive than other drugs by far.  And yet, the war on marijuana in New York City's quality of life policing, the stop and frisk, and small offense broken windows, motivated policing shows dramatic shifts in the policy.  This is data from a Freedom of Information request that a sociologist, Levine and his colleague at one of the New York City colleges has gotten to be able to chart, the frequency with which New York City policy officers are detaining people for -- for possession of marijuana.  And there's massive racial disparity.  I take this from a Pew Foundation report on the incidents of imprisonment and racial disparities and it -- and they indicate there were the data had come from.  But in any case, what you see is that youth -- drug use reported by race, involvement in drug sales reported by race.  Both showing slightly higher incidents of these phenomenon amongst whites than amongst African Americans.  And yet, looking at juveniles who are detained for drug offense by race, you see a much higher rate of detention for African Americans than for whites. 
 Yeah.  Similar  data here,  African Americans admitted to state prisons for drug offenses at almost 10 times the rates of whites.  So, let me think about how I'd like to move forward from here. I'm going to come to this map that you're looking at in a minute.  It's a snapshot, showing the intensity by New York City neighborhood of incarceration in two years; 1985 and 1996.  Meant to underscore the spatial concentration of the phenomenon of incarceration in this particular city.  And how over that 11-year period, between '85 and '86, areas of concentrated, high rates of incarceration have basically grown, naturally or -- more of less naturally from what they had been earlier.  What all this comes to is that, with respect to the war on drugs, to save our middle class kids from the threat of their being engulfed by a drug epidemic that might not have even existed by the time the drug incarceration began rapidly to rise in the 1980s, we've criminalize our so-called underclass kids.  Arrests went up and up, drug prices went down and down.  And public consumption seems not to have been much impacted by the policy.  An interesting case in point is New York City.  Criminologist, Jeffrey Fagen and his colleagues have analyzed data on arrest in New York City residential neighborhoods and police precincts.  They report that 70% of state inmates in New York come from New York City.  In the state of New York, come from the city.  Between 1990 and 2003, the number of state prison inmates coming from the city rose from 55,000 to 70,000.  The city also had an average daily the jail population of nearly18,000.  Rates of incarceration in New York City have been largely unaffected by the city's dramatic declines in crime, they report.  Moreover, the increase in incarceration, is in part attributable to aggressive enforcement of drug laws, especially street level enforcement, resulting in large numbers of Felony arrest for retail drugs -- of retail drug sellers.  They note that drug related offenses have accounted for an increasing proportion of prison admissions, up from 12% of state admissions in 1985, to 31% in 1990, to 38% by 1996.  Some 11,600 residents of New York City entered the New York State prison system on drug related offenses in 1996, compared to 9,345 in 1990.  In the New York City of these years, incarceration was highest in the city's poorest neighborhoods.  Though these were not, in every instance, the neighborhoods where the crime rates were highest.  Most interestingly, when these data were analyzed at the level of police precinct, the authors discovered a perverse positive feedback of incarceration on crime.  Higher incarceration in a given neighborhoods seem to "predict."  And one, of course, wants to be careful with the econometrics here and the inferences about causality.  Higher crime rates one year later in the same neighborhoods.  These authors concluded that the growth and persistence of incarceration over time, were due primarily to drug enforcement and to sentencing laws that required imprisonment for repeat felons.  Police scrutiny was more intensive and less forgiving, in neighborhoods that had high incarceration rates.  And parolees returning to such neighborhoods were more like -- were being more closely monitored.  This discretionary, spatially discriminatory police behavior, lead to high and increasing rate of repeat prison admissions in the designated neighborhoods, even as crime rates fell.  Okay, that's the war on drugs.  I want to talk a little bit now about social causation and social responsibility.  And then I want to talk about social ethics.  Then, I'm going to conclude.  I have five minutes, thank you [laughter].
>> [Inaudible].
>> Okay.
The minimalist, ethical principle that I wish to advance here, is that historical, racial injustice establishes a general presumption against indifference to contemporary racial inequality.  Okay, so where is this coming from?  I have to skip over some stuff.  Some people will say what does race have to do with any of this.  Some people will say the ethical issues here involve human beings, regardless of their race.  Okay. Why are you harping on the racial disparities involved here and what moral leverage do you think you get out of that?  They will say to me.  Okay.  And it's in that context that I want to advance my minimalist, ethical principle here.  Which is that the history that we have enured in the country around these questions, establishes a general presumption against indifference to the racially despaired consequence of contemporary social policies.  I don't need to find the smoking gun of a racist who has treated somebody differently because of their race, to take on board the ethical significance and the imperative to action of the observation that this is something that is inconsistent with what American values are that we purport to embrace.  We are hypocrites to extent that we don't take seriously the ethical imperative to mitigate this racial disparity, I want to argue.  And that's not because I think that black people's welfare ought to count higher in any social calculus, it's because I see the present-day circumstance as contiguous to, and in part a consequence of, the history that is nearly universally regarded as racial unjust.  From this perspective durable racial inequality can be understood as the outgrowth of a series of vicious circles of cumulative causation.  In a political economy type model, one can write down with equations and all the rest, with endogenous policy support free galitary reform, benefiting a stigmatized racial group, depend on explanations that ordinary people give, for observed racial disparities.  The association of blackness in the public imagination with unworthiness, distorts cognitive processes, promoting essentialist causal misattributions.  Translated, they see the disparity among blacks, but they don't think of it as saying anything about the structures in which people are imbedded, but they rather impute the outcomes to the deficiencies of the persons involved.  And they're more likely to do so with as a psychological matter, to the extent that it's African-Americans, given the history of race and racial stigma in the society.  The sum of a million cases, each one rightly judged on it's merits to be individually fair, can still constitute a great historic wrong.  A central reality of our time, is the fact that there's opened a racial gap in the acquisition of cognitive skills, in the extent of law abidingness, in the stability of family relations, the attachment to the workforce, and the like.  And this is a disparity in human development, which is, as a historical matter, rooted in political, economic, social, and cultural factors, peculiar to this society and reflective of its unlovely racial history.  That is the inequality of human development that is reflected in widely despaired rates of criminal offending by race in this country, is a societal, not a communal or personal achievement.  I just want to underscore this.  It's a societal product, it's something in which we are all implicated.  It doesn't merely tell us something about them, it also tells us something about us.  At the level of the individual case, we must, of course, act as if this were not so.  There could be no law, and thus no civilization -- pardon the use of the word, without the imputation to particular persons of responsibility for wrongful acts.  This is an age-old problem, autonomy versus heteronomy, I'm told by the philosophers.  But the state does not only deal with individual cases, it also makes policies in the aggregate.  It decides how long sentences should be.  It decides whether or not to prosecute wars on drugs, it deploys it's police resources in particular ways, in particular places.  It is more or less, forgiving.  It deals with juveniles in this way or that, depending upon the outcomes of social processes.  It either does or does not have three strikes and you're out laws, and so forth.  These are choices that we're making in an ongoing way.  The law is endogenous.  We have lawbreakers, we also have lawmakers.  The lawmakers have choices.  Their choices have consequences.  They can mitigate the impact of what we're doing in the pursuit of public safety, to the extent that it produces the kind of cost and the differential incidence of those costs that I've called attention to here.  To the extent that they elect not to, those also will be choices that they've made.  So, I'm going to conclude.  What does all this tell us about our purportedly open and democratic society.  What manner of people do our punishment policies reveal we Americans to be.  Just look at what we've run.  We've established what, to many an outside observer, looks like a system of social caste in the center of our great cities.  I refer here to millions of stigmatized, feared, and invisible people.  The extent of disparity between the children of the middle class and the children of the disadvantaged, to achieve their full human potential is virtually unrivaled, elsewhere in the industrial, advanced, civilized, free world.  And it is a disparity that is apparently taken for granted in America.  We have a politics in which a politician dare not even speak about the poor, about policy for the poor.  About our failures, visa vi the poor.  Certainly not about the black poor.  I see in a broader society, as I've said, as implicated in the creation and maintenance of these damaged, neglected, feared, and despised communities.  People who live in these places know that outsiders view them with suspicion and contempt.  The plain historical fact is that North Philadelphia, the west side of Chicago, or the east side of Detroit, or South Central Los Angeles, or a dozen other communities one could name, did not come into being by accident or because of some natural processes.  As again, the sociologist Loic Wacquant has emphasized in his writing, these social formations are man made structures that were created and have persisted because the concentration of their residence in such urban enclaves, serves the interest of others.  The desperate and vile behavior of some of the people caught in these social structures, reflect not merely their personal moral deviance, but also the moral shortcomings of society as a whole.  And yet, we Americans have concluded, in effect, that those languishing at the margins, are simply reaping what they've sewn.  Their suffering is seen as having nothing to do with us, as having, as I've said no -- as presenting no evidence about broader systemic failures.  
A few summers ago, I took some time to read the nonfiction writings of the great 19th century Russian Novelist, Leo Tolstoy, and the only reason I'm telling you this is because I want you to know that I actually went and dug out Tolstoy's essays and read them.
As you may know, he became an eccentric pacifist and radical Christian critic at the end of his life.  I was stunned at the force of some of his arguments, though I confess, I was not entirely persuaded by one of his key points, namely that a true Christian must be absolutely celibate.  What struck me most about [Inaudible] Tolstoy, though, [laughter] was his provocative claim that the core of Christianity lies in the sermon on the mount.  Jesus is saying there, he says, he says, "You see that fellow over there committing some terrible sin?  Well, if you've ever lusted or allowed jealousy, or envy, or hatred to enter your own heart, then you are to be equally condemned."  And Tolstoy claims that this is the central teaching of the Christian face -- faith.  Namely, that we're all in the same fix.  Now, now, don't worry that I'm about to launch into some sermon here.   Still,  it seems to me that this religious sentiment is entirely relevant to our contemporary secular lives.  While the behavior pathologies and cultural threats that we see in society, the moral erosions out there, the crime, and drug addiction, sexually transmitted disease, idleness, violence, and all manner of deviance.  While these are worrisome, nevertheless, our moral crusade against these evils can take on a pathological dimension of its own.  We can become self righteous, legalistic, ungenerous, stiff-necked and hypocritical.  We can fail to see the mote in our own eye.  We can neglect to raise questions of social justice.  We can blind ourselves to the close relationship that actually exists between behavioral pathology and the underclass of our country, so called, on the one hand, and society-wide factors on the other.  No, I'm not a moral relativist, still when thinking about the lives of the disadvantaged, the fundamental premise that needs to be established and is yet to be established in American political discourse is that, well, we're all in this together.  Those people are our people.  They're us.  Whatever their race, creed -- or country of origin.  Whether they be crack addicted, AIDS infected, mentally ill, homeless, juvenile delinquents, drug sellers, or worse.  Whatever the malty, whatever the offense.  We're all in the same fix.  This is the point that [inaudible] and Jesus, before him were making.  And this is the point I wish to urge upon your consideration at this moment.  It is a point that, if taken seriously, has profound implications for how the privileged among us, and that's us, in this room, should conduct our lives.  I'll stop.  Thank you very much.
[ Applause ]
>> I'd just like to say, thank you, Professor Loury for that wonderful talk and I'd also like to say, thank you for leaving time for audience questions. 
>> Did I?  
>> Yes
>> I'm so glad.  I'm so glad.
>> Yes.  We have about 15 minutes or so, and I'll just get right into it.  The first question is, where should policymakers focus in order to best address disproportionate minority contact, law enforcement policy style, court system -- the court systems, or corrections? 
>> Law enforcement, courts, or corrections, so that's a limited range of options.  So what I would argue here, is that our sentences are too long and our policy are too punitive for people who are breaking our laws.  And I think I could get a lot of company in that.  I think -- so the econom [inaudible] Steven Durlough [assumed spelling] and Daniel Naygun [assumed spelling] -- Durlough at Wisconsin and Naygun at Carganie Mellon have a paper recently on deterrence.  This is a National Bureau of Economic Research working paper that has now been published in the volume, in which they systematically assess the evidence on the behavior consequences of the anticipation of criminal punishment.  Do burglars commit fewer burglaries if they anticipate that the mean number of days in prison conditioned along being apprehended, has gone up by a certain amount.  They try to pin that down.  They come to the conclusion that certainty is much more important than the severity of punishment.  They break up the expected -- the calculation of the expected cost of committing the burglary into the two components, the probability that you get apprehended and then conditional on apprehension, the amount of time you expect to spend in prison.  And they conclude that it's really the former, the likelihood of being caught and punished, whatever the length of the punishment that has most of the leverage in generating any laxity from punishment to behavior, a negative relationship.  They note, for example, in this paper, that three strike laws are really deeply problematic, both for the straightforward demographic reason, that they keep people in prison long-past the time when their offending behavior would have gone down, but also for this causal behavioral reason, that there's the evidence that they actually add much to the deterrent effect of law enforcement is essentially nonexistent.  So what's going on with these laws is symbolism.  It's a way of the legislature expressing to the public, its concern about these matters, but it's not necessarily effective policy.  So sentences could be shorter.  I didn't give the most comprehensive defense of that claim but I think such a defense could be made.  On the other hand, the burden of what I'm arguing here is that it's human development outside of the area of public safety and law enforcement, where we're really failing and where -- to the extent that we were prepared to invest more of our resources and people are going to say, yes we tried the war on poverty, the war on poverty failed , the war on cancer has also failed, you know.   People are still dying from diseases.  We haven't stopped looking for cures to these diseases because people are still dying from them.  Why would we stop looking for effective early childhood interventions that might have material effect on the life courses of the persons who are at the margins of society, because a cost benefit study of this or that program, suggested it hasn't been as effective as we might have hoped that it would be.  I mean anything that I say here in response to this question is going to be something of a platitude.  I'm not going to pretend that I know how social policy should be redesigned so that we don't have these problems, but I think that our priorities are way out of whack and that the emphasis should be on human development, not on punitive policy.
>Thank you.  The next question is in reference to the New York City stop and frisk policy.  You referenced urban policing and profiling, how do you respond to Mayor Bloomberg and Commissioner Kelly, who argue that the weapons seized and lives saved as a result of stop and frisk, disproportionately benefit minorities, who sadly makeup the bulk of homicide victims. 
>> My understanding of the data, this has been much discussed of late, because there are public demonstrations against stop and frisk in New York City and there's really a real kind of movement that's getting going against stop and frisk, is that the number of weapons seized per relative to the scale of the stop and frisk activity is really small.  I wish that I could cite chapter and verse about that precisely, but I don't know those numbers off my head.  But I mean, you're talking, you know, three or four orders of magnitude.  I mean most of what's happening in stop and frisk, they're not finding people with hot weapons that they can then take off the street and thereby have some impact.  So, I mean, I remain to be persuaded that the magnitude of the effect of violence reduction from stop and frisk, is a benefit that warrants the cost in terms of the imposition on civil liberties of ordinary people just walking around.  I mean I can just tell you, I was stopped and frisked in New York City as a visiting professor at Columbia University, living in a little apartment on 113th Street in Harlem because I was riding my bicycle on the sidewalk.  I had a bicycle, okay, I'm down on the flats, I want to get up the hill to Morningside Heights so I can go to my office, okay.  So I'm trying to ride up the hill, I'm coming out of my apartment with my bicycle, it's like a block until you get to the end of the curb and you go into the street.  While I was on the sidewalk, police officers detained me.  I'm not going to dwell on this.  It's not about me, and it's really a big deal.  Except this little antidote is telling you something about what's going on.  I was stopped.  I was forced to produce identification and a citation was issued to me requiring my appearance in court, which I ignored, out of just shear fury that they were going to take my time for something as trivial as that.  I was trying to get to the street on south -- okay, I'll stop.  I'll stop.  I want to get to the second part of the question, which is important.  What I didn't show you in these slides, I had all cued up, but there's not enough time, Michelle Alexander makes this big argument in her book about how we're experiencing the new Jim Crow and then, a fellow at Yale Law School, called James Foreman, who happens to be the son of a famous civil right leader from the 1960s, he's a law professor at Yale, wrote a piece in the NYU Law Review, published April 2012, in which he kind of pushes back against Michelle Alexander and the Jim Crow analogy and the main burden of his argument -- he's an African-American as it happens, and he against mass incarceration and against stop and frisk, and all the kind of stuff that a liberal, black law professor is supposed to be against.  But his main point was, you've got to reckon with the consequences of violence in these communities and the first order of business in the state is to protect people and their person and their property and to keep them safe.  Okay?  Black people are more likely to be victimized if blacks are committing crimes, because the social geography, the networking, and the way in which people are interacting in cities.  And so you can't simply go from a high rate of black incarceration to claims about Jim crow without going through a talk about what do you do about violence in these places.  So what I'm saying to you is, if I could be convinced that stop and frisk really had a huge impact on reducing the incidence of violence in these communities, I'd have a different attitude about stop and frisk.  But I think that Mayor Bloomberg and the Commissioner of Police there in New York City bear a burden that they've yet to bear -- they have a burden to meet that they've yet to meet.  Demonstrating the causal connection between what they're doing, which is this wholesale practice that is cast into its net huge numbers of people.  And it's justified by something that I'm not persuaded is actually happening.  
>> Thank you.  The next question states, what's a socially conscious white intellectual activist to do about the mass incarceration of racial minorities?
>> Nothing any different than what the socially conscious black intellectual is to do.  What is a self-respecting intellectual to do?
No, I'm serious about that.  I mean the sense of outrage, might, to some degree, be influenced by by affilial connection to the population, okay?  But the responsibilities as an intellectual, at least as I would I see it, to act in this circumstance aren't -- aren't really any greater for me than they would be for anybody else, I would say.  I don't know, I mean, what do you think?  Not just you personally, whoever asked that question, what do you think?  Is that outside the protocol?  All right, never mind.  
>> Okay, hello?  Okay.  Could you speak to what several authors consider to be the myth of racial progress due to the omission -- omission of significant numbers of imprisoned black man from demographical analysis, of educational outcomes and wages, and less inequality.  
>> Well, that's a real thing because the survey taker is the -- these are non-institutionalize populations that are being looked at to generate these trend numbers and various measures of social status of African-Americans.  And so, myth of black progress, I wouldn't quite go there.  I wouldn't say there's no black progress, that black progress is a myth.  But an overstatement of black progress, driven by the fact that you have such high rates of incarceration and that things like unemployment rates, or, you know, whatever, will be based on surveys of populations that exclude incarcerated persons, who are definitely non-employed  Bruce Western has explicitly, he and Becky Pettit have a paper in which, this is exactly what they do.  They chronicle how different trends in various measures of social status for African-American men would look, if you included in the population, persons who are institutionalize, then they would look if you -- as is the practice, didn't include them.  And there would be less progress.  But I -- noting that, I still wouldn't go to this language about myth of black progress.  I don't think there's any denying that there's been "black progress," quote, unquote, since the civil rights era.  It's just that there persists a very substantial problem.
>Thank you.  In the consideration of time we'll make this the last question.  What effect would extending voting rights to prisoners, as some states currently do, have on our current prison industrial complex.
>> I can't know what the feedback effect of having the franchise amongst people who are incarcerated, or who are formerly incarcerated persons.  I mean I didn't, you know, there was a lot to talk about, I didn't talk about this.  Manza, M-a-n-z-a and Uggen, U-G -- double G-e-n, these are scholars at Northwest University.  They have a book out there, I wish I could think of the name of it now.  But they actually go through and very systematically chronicle, the extent to which the American electorate is being materially shaped, by post-release policies.  These are not just people who are in prison, I think Maine is the only state that allows people who were actually incarcerated to cast ballots.  Okay?  These are people who have been released from prison, who have served their time, but are still not able to register to vote in whatever the jurisdiction is, because of laws that disenfranchise them for whatever period of time.  And Manza and Uggens go through and make the case that this is not small, this is big.  And one of the ways that they make that point, it by calling attention to various electoral outcomes, that plausibly would be quite different, if incarcerated persons -- formerly incarcerated persons had the franchise.  So Mitch McConnel's first election to the Senate in Kentucky, they estimate -- and you know what they're doing, they're going to use some kind of demographic prediction model.  They're going to say age, race, sex, whatever.  And then they're going to say, you know, what's the likelihood that this person would have voted this way or that.  And then they're going to forecast what the outcome of the election would be if those people were able to cast ballots.  Not only would George W. Bush not have gotten elected, because Florida would have been close.  I mean, he would have lost it by tens of thousands of votes, not just by a few hundred.  Not only that, but the whole senate would look different.  You know, Republicans don't get the Senate majority in whatever year they get it.  I mean, all kinds of huge stuff like this.  Now, whether or not that would make our politics profoundly different, and would have effects on incarceration policy, I have no way of knowing that.  I mean, I have -- in fact reason to doubt it, frankly.  Barrack Hussein Obama is President of the United States.  And there's an African-American Attorney General, and they face a political environment, in which they have relatively little wiggle room, whatever their inclination might have been to run around talking about this.  I don't think these issues are going to necessarily be touted anymore by national politicians, whom happen to be African-American, because, you know, they got 5% more votes at the margin because people who had been in prison were able to vote.  They still, basically, are dealing with the median voter and they're still going to be constrained by a lot of these other things, so.  I mean this is way beyond my expertise, I mean, you know, this should be political scientists speculating about this.  But I doubt that it would change the policy very much, but it would have a big effect on the character of the electorate.
>> Thank you.
>> Okay, thanks very much.
[ Applause ]