'It's not random': The origins of America's broken justice system

America is having a long overdue conversation about policing and justice. Most of us know that the criminal justice system looks different for Black and Brown Americans. And many of us probably have a sense of why the system has always worked against them. But this week we’re examining just how expansive and damaging that system has been. Dr. John Giggie, an historian at the University of Alabama and director of the Summersell Center for the Study of the South, outlines how the roots of today’s problem of mass incarceration can be found in slave patrols, mass lynchings, and convict leasing. And Beth Shelburne, a journalist who has dedicated her career to covering the ins and outs of the prison industrial complex, walks us through the unique issues plaguing Alabama’s prisons -- one of the most dangerous prison systems in the country -- as well as problems similar to all prisons across the South.

Show Notes

1:58 Dr. John Giggie | University of Alabama | Summersell Center for the Study of the South

2:50 From slave patrols to mass incarceration

7:50 Convict leasing

9:07 Criminalizing Black bodies

12:23 The public display of lynchings

16:26 “Law & Order”

19:07 Media’s role in perpetuating stereotypes

20:53 Impact on other people of color

22:07 Mental health and prisons

25:21 Beth Shelburne | bethshelburne.com | @bshelburne

25:57 The terror of Alabama prisons

28:15 Who is in our prisons?

31:53 Prison conditions during Covid-19

34:01 Parole process

37:13 Would building new facilities solve the problem?

40:07 Sentencing reform

44:45 Hurdles people face after prison

49:51 Cash bail

51:25 How many people are affected by Alabama prisons?


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