Mass Incarcerations: A Crisis of the Spirit; Adjoa A. Aiyetoro, JD

What does the United States’ incarceration rate say about this country? The U.S. has the highest rate of incarceration in the Western world. People of color and the poor are disproportionately represented in jails and prisons throughout this country. What is the fallacy in the oft-repeated adage “If you do the crime, you do the time?” There is a relationship between the structural barriers to meaningful participation in the United States placed in the paths of people of color and the poor and incarceration. If we are to live in a society that truly values all human beings equally, we must understand and address the way the criminal justice system targets people of color and the poor.

Adjoa A. Aiyetoro is an Associate Professor of Law at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock and the Director of the Racial Disparities in the Arkansas Criminal Justice System Research Project. She began her legal career as a staff attorney with the United States Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Special Litigation Section, where she litigated cases involving the rights of the institutionalized and developed an expertise in prisoner rights. She joined the ACLU National Prison Project in 1981 where she remained until 1992. Since 1992 she has served as the Executive Director of the National Conference of Black Lawyers, the Director of Ad-ministration for the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, Inc., a consultant to the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, and the Chief Legal Consultant for the National Coalition of Blacks for Reparations in America (N’COBRA).