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Could be structured in a more interesting manner, some areas seem redundant. Worth checking out.
This book covers one of the "fastest growing industries in America", that being the penal system institution that continues to incarcerate more Americans (pro rata), and disproportionately, Americans of color, then any other penal system institution in the world.
The author, Becky Petit, does an okay job of sharing with us the statistics, that in this case, show a dis-proportionality towards African Americans in particular (and to a lesser degree, Hispanic Americans).
I've studied these kind of social dynamics for years, and am very familiar with most of the things that were covered in this book. I still enjoyed the overall information that I gathered, in particular, some of the things I took note of were, the exponential growth of the penal system in America since the 70's, and the incarceration rates of people of color that are filling these jails/prisons to the point where they are bursting at the seams.
The author "borrowed" the title of this book from famed author, Ralph Ellison, and his book "Invisible Man", in which he says "I am invisible, understand, simply because people refuse to see me" – Ralph Ellison.
The author shares with us that in January 2009, 1.8 million people stood on the Mall in Washington to celebrate the inauguration of Pres. Barack Obama. The irony was, at that very same moment in time, 2.3 million Americans sat in American prisons and jails cells. Over half of them being African-Americans.
The United States incarceration rate is at a higher percentage of its population than at any other time during its history. The United States also leads the world in the highest percentage of its population behind bars. If we include the numbers of people on probation, parole and supervision, over 5.8 million people are in such circumstances. Current reports show that if the trends continue, one out of every three black men will spend some portion of their adult life in prison.
The author does do a great job in sharing with us the "historical overview" that is necessary in framing the discussion. She takes us back to the time of the Declaration of Independence, where Thomas Jefferson says that "all men are created equal, with an inalienable rights for the pursuit of liberty, freedom and happiness as governed by the laws of the land" (not an exact quote, but pretty close). Yet, at the same time the hypocrisy was that slaves were counted as 3/5 of a man for demographic and political purposes. Therefore rendering 40% of the African-American population "invisible". Those dynamics persist to this day, as blacks are still underrepresented, and given a disproportionate share and allocations, especially when it comes from federal/state assistance.
It is estimated that as of 2009, fully up to 5% of African-American men were not accounted for in the national statistics. The reasons vary from the legacy of slavery, not wanting to be tracked and traced, homelessness, incarcerations, etc.
These are just a few of the items that were shared with us in this book, and anyone with a "social conscience" will find this book intriguing and helpful, especially along with the historical overviews, as to how/why American penal systems continue to be bursting at the seams, disproportionately so with prisoners of color.
Incarcerating people, be it for petty or felony crimes, is only "a very small part of the overall puzzle" and needs to be coupled with "reentry into society programs, education and mentoring programs, job skill set training programs, mental health assistance, family dynamics, and so much more. We all have a lot to do in "getting our oars into the water" and will just have to keep pushing on to better solutions.