A stark disparity exists between black and white youth experiences in the justice system today. Black youths are perceived to be older and less innocent than their white peers. When it comes to incarceration, race trumps class, and even as black youths articulate their own experiences with carceral authorities, many Americans remain surprised by the inequalities they continue to endure. In this revealing book, Carl Suddler brings to light a much longer history of the policies and strategies that tethered the lives of black youths to the justice system indefinitely.
The criminalization of black youth is inseparable from its racialized origins. In the mid-twentieth century, the United States justice system began to focus on punishment, rather than rehabilitation. By the time the federal government began to address the issue of juvenile delinquency, the juvenile justice system shifted its priorities from saving delinquent youth to purely controlling crime, and black teens bore the brunt of the transition.
In New York City, increased state surveillance of predominantly black communities compounded arrest rates during the post–World War II period, providing justification for tough-on-crime policies. Questionable police practices, like stop-and-frisk, combined with media sensationalism, cemented the belief that black youth were the primary cause for concern. Even before the War on Crime, the stakes were clear: race would continue to be the crucial determinant in American notions of crime and delinquency, and black youths condemned with a stigma of criminality would continue to confront the overwhelming power of the state.
|Publisher:||New York University Press|
|Product dimensions:||6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.80(d)|
About the Author
Table of Contents
List of Illustrations ix
Introduction: "The Way I See It": Reframing Black Youth and Racial Injustice 1
1 "The Child Is Never Basically Bad": Creating Crime through Prevention 13
2 "Margie's Day": Youth, Race, and Uprisings in Wartime Harlem 39
3 "Every Generation Has Had the Habit of Going to the Devil": Constructions of a Postwar Delinquent 68
4 "Beware of the Cat on the Corner": Deconstructing a Cycle of Outrage 96
5 "In All Our Harlems": Policing Black Youths through the War on Crime 124
Afterword: "Without a Wrinkle in Today": An Ode to "Young Forever" 151
Manuscript Sources 163
About the Author 235