The disenfranchisement of convicted felons has altered the outcome of governors races, key senate races, and even presidential elections, says political science professor Marie Gottschalk.
The massive disenfranchisement of convicted felons — totaling 6 million uncounted potential votes in the 2012 presidential election — has decided governors races, key senate races, and even presidential elections, says political science professor Marie Gottschalk. Sadly, this is only one way the American electorate has been undemocratically shrunk. Voter identification laws, poll taxes, literacy tests, and disenfranchisement laws that historically targeted poor individuals are a lasting stain on our democratic principles. "This is a vestige from the Civil War years," says Gottschalk, "when whites were more likely to have committed homicide and African-Americans were going to be picked up for many of these more petty crimes and therefore be disenfranchised." Some states, like Rhode Island, are working to re-enfranchise a number of people, but there is much more to be done.
In prohibiting juvenile solitary confinement in federal prisons, President Barack Obama follows the advice of prison experts like Marie Gottschalk. Here she explains the "degrading and dehumanizing" harm caused by extreme isolation.
Perhaps at no other time in the present generation has prison reform been so close to the surface of our political consciousness. The "tough on crime" policies and mandatory minimum sentencing guidelines of the 1990s have created a pattern of overly harsh punishments and a glut of private prisons, all but abandoning the rehabilitative function of the penal system. Today, that is slowly changing. In prohibiting juvenile solitary confinement in federal prisons, President Barack Obama follows the advice of prison experts like Marie Gottschalk. Here she explains the "degrading and dehumanizing" harm caused by extreme isolation.
You already know the statistics: The U.S. incarcerates more people than any other country. But do you know why?
You already know the statistics: The U.S. incarcerates more people than any other country, both in sheer numbers and as a percentage of the population. But do you know why?
University of Pennsylvania professor Marie Gottschalk is an expert on the politics of incarceration and author of the book Caught: The Prison State and the Lockdown of American Politics. In this video interview, professor Gottschalk details the sequence of events that led to the American prison state. From overstated crime statistics to race-based political dealings to the political benefit of looking tough, the saga of the U.S. as warden continues to reap heavy consequences for nearly all parts of society.
Marie Gottschalk is a professor of political science at the University of Pennsylvania. She specializes in American politics, with a focus on criminal justice, health policy, race, the development of the welfare state, and business-labor relations.
Her latest book is Caught: The Prison State and the Lockdown of American Politics (Princeton University Press, 2014). She is also the author of The Prison and the Gallows: The Politics of Mass Incarceration in America (Cambridge University Press, 2006), which won the 2007 Ellis W. Hawley Prize from the Organization of American Historians, and The Shadow Welfare State: Labor, Business, and the Politics of Health Care in the United States (Cornell University Press, 2000).
Professor Gottschalk is a former editor and journalist and was a university lecturer for two years in the People’s Republic of China. She was a visiting scholar at the Russell Sage Foundation in New York and was named a Distinguished Lecturer in Japan by the Fulbright Program. She served on the American Academy of Arts and Sciences National Task Force on Mass Incarceration and was a member of the National Academy of Sciences Committee on the Causes and Consequences of High Rates of Incarceration. She is a contributor to the Academy's final report, The Growth of Incarceration in the United States: Exploring Causes and Consequences (National Academies Press, 2014).
She has a B.A. in history from Cornell University, an M.P.A. from Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School, and an M.A. and Ph.D. in political science from Yale University.