A Plague of Prisons: The Epidemiology of Mass Incarceration by Ernest Drucker

By Ernest Drucker

Whilst Dr. John Snow first traced a deadly disease of cholera to a water pump within the Soho district of London in 1854, the sector of epidemiology was once born. Taking an analogous public wellbeing and fitness methods and instruments that experience effectively tracked epidemics of flu, tuberculosis, and AIDS over the intervening 100 and fifty years, Ernest Drucker makes the case that our present exceptional point of imprisonment has develop into an epidemic—a plague upon our physique politic.

Drucker, an across the world famous public overall healthiness student and Soros Justice Fellow, spent two decades treating drug habit and one other twenty learning AIDS in the various poorest neighborhoods of the South Bronx and around the globe. He
compares mass incarceration to different, well-recognized epidemics utilizing simple public well-being strategies: “prevalence and incidence,” “outbreaks,” “contagion,” “transmission,” and “potential years of lifestyles lost.”

He argues that imprisonment—originally conceived as a reaction to individuals’ crimes—has turn into mass incarceration: a destabilizing strength that undermines the households and groups it ambitions, destructive the very social buildings that hinder crime.

Sure to impress debate, this ebook shifts the paradigm of the way we predict approximately punishment by way of demonstrating that our exceptional charges of incarceration have the contagious and self-perpetuating good points of the plagues of past centuries.

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Extra info for A Plague of Prisons: The Epidemiology of Mass Incarceration in America

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Using an old Apple computer, we made tables of the data and mapped them by hand. We made one map for each of the first four years of AIDS in the Bronx: one dot for each case (black for men, red for women), placed in the victim’s zip code. 3. Cases of Immune Disorder in Bronx Hospitals, 1982–1985 Year New Cases 1982 15 1983 67 1984 148 1985 323 These figures show the rapid growth of cases of immune disorders—­at the time not yet called AIDS in medical records—­in the Bronx. ) Source: New York State Department of Health.

Yet an epidemiological analysis of mass incarceration reveals that it meets all the important criteria for being an epidemic, a collective phenomenon that is more than the sum of its individual cases. These criteria include its rapid growth rate, large scale, and self-sustaining properties. Rapid Growth Rate Mass incarceration easily meets the first criteria for status as an epidemic—­the rapid growth of new cases (increased incidence) over a short period of time. In the past thirty-five years, the United States has increased its incarcerated population tenfold.

Most of the AIDS cases were concentrated in the poorest neighborhoods with high rates of drug injection, where most of the borough’s addicts lived. And the majority of AIDS cases were among drug injectors, their sexual partners, and the babies born of women in both these groups. It was the sharing of unsterile syringes and frequent unsafe sexual contact (for money or drugs) that was the pump driving the local outbreak in the Bronx. The addicts spread the infection to one another in the notorious “shooting galleries” of the South Bronx, where they “rented” the use of syringes for their shots.

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