DOI: 10.1177/23780231231224630 ISSN: 2378-0231

“They Need to Go in There”: Criminalized Subjectivity among Formerly Incarcerated Black Men

Lucius Couloute
  • General Social Sciences

Black people are overrepresented in the American criminal justice system, yet policy-based criminal justice research has historically ignored the perspectives of criminalized Black people. Using interviews with 27 formerly incarcerated Black men, the author helps address this issue by exploring how carceral experiences produce “criminalized subjectivities.” In particular, when explicitly asked about what they would say to powerful state officials about their contact with the criminal justice system, the Black men in this study described a range of practices and policies they viewed as unfair and contradictory. Interviewees discussed: unequal judicial processes, inhumane prison conditions, postimprisonment barriers to reintegration, and the rigged nature of racialized mass criminalization. The author argues that, taken together, their responses constitute a critical perspective urging structural (rather than individual-level) change, rooted in experiences with invisibilization and criminalization.

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