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Black Mass Incarceration In The So-Called Free State

Maryland holds itself up as a progressive state when it comes to criminal justice, but a recent report highlights a stark reality: Maryland incarcerates Black people at more than twice the national rate.

Until recently, the horrifyingly unjust reality of America’s mass incarceration system has not been a central concern in popular political discourse. In the past few years, however, more people have learned about the brutality and inhumanity of mass incarceration as artists, activists, documentarians, and elected officials have called attention to the broken U.S. criminal justice system—and its disproportionate harm to Black and Brown people. But is this increased awareness of the problem translating to increased efforts to address it?

While officials like Maryland’s Gov. Larry Hogan say they’re reducing incarceration rates and improving prison conditions, the data tells a different story. For instance, the Justice Policy Institute’s report “Rethinking Approaches to Over Incarceration of Black Young Adults in Maryland” shows that Maryland incarcerates Black people at more than twice the national rate and leads the country in incarcerating young Black men. In this episode of “Rattling the Bars,” Eddie Conway speaks with Justice Policy Institute’s Marc Schindler and returning citizen Shasta Deen about how the repercussions of slavery are still felt in Maryland’s justice system.