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Date Permissions Signed
Date of Award
Master of Arts (MA)
Young, Kathleen Z.
This thesis focuses on the relationship between the prison system and the history of institutionalized racism in the United States. It begins with a detailed historical and political analysis of the criminal justice system in relation to race/ethnicity from the abolition of slavery in the nineteenth century into a modern day context. The ideologies birthed from the abolition of slavery that contributed to the structure of the United States penal system are paired with practices of contemporary mass incarceration. The examination of the historical in conjunction with the present shows a clear trajectory of how the U.S. private and public prison system took on many of the roles once held by slavery. A look into contemporary practices of mass incarceration includes the role of the private prison as a way to profit from racism, as well as to expand the system. The role of free labor is central to these connections, as it is the historical constant both in the forms of antebellum slavery as well as prison labor. Finally, with an understanding of the relationship between prison conditions and racism, this thesis concludes with the questioning of what positive changes can be made.
Western Washington University
Copying of this thesis in whole or in part is allowable only for scholarly purposes. It is understood, however, that any copying or publication of this thesis for commercial purposes, or for financial gain, shall not be allowed without the author's written permission.
Hickey, Luke J., "A Legacy of Supremacy: Prison, Power, and the Carceral Nation" (2017). WWU Masters Thesis Collection. 554.