Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Social Inequality, Criminal Justice, and Race in Tennessee, 1960-2014
by Fosten, Gerald Keith, Ph.D., Howard University, 2015, 198; 10191162
Abstract (Summary)

This study examines the national criminal justice system’s and the state of Tennessee criminal justice system’s policies in terms of how they influence citizens’ need for prisons with the private sector's desire for profits and their effects on the incarceration rate of African American males in the state of Tennessee. There is an important, often neglected correlation among prison sentencing, felony disenfranchisement, voting and the continuing problematic issues of race in America, particularly in Tennessee. Tennessee serves as a representative case study for which to examine local, state, and national criminal justice system, disparate outcomes and social inequality. The research therefore investigates ethically questionable public-private business relationships and arrangements that contribute to socially-constructed economic policy instruments used to fulfill Conservatives and Whites supremacists’ objectives for White domination in the State. Through mass incarceration and felony disenfranchisement, African Americans—in particular, African American males, have been discriminated against and systematically excluded from political participation, employment, housing, education and other social programs. This dissertation utilizes the Racial Contract Theory and Racial Group Threat Theory (Racial Threat Theory or Group Threat Theory) to investigate the issue. The Racial Contract Theory suggests that racism itself is an intentionally devised institutionalized political arrangement, of official and unofficial rule, of official and unofficial policy, socioeconomic benefit, and norms for the preferential distribution of material wealth and opportunities. The Racial Group Threat Theory suggests that growth in the comparative size of a subordinate group increases that group’s capacity to use democratic political and economic institutions for its benefit at the expense of the dominant group.

This dissertation therefore first hypothesizes that race, mass incarceration and felony disenfranchisement are employed to influence election outcomes in Tennessee. The second hypothesis that profit-seeking motive or other forms of economic incentives contribute to racist policy in the criminal justice system of Tennessee. The secondary data for this study were collected from books, scholarly articles, and online sources using the document analysis technique. The primary data were collected using national, state, local government reports and expert testimonials already conducted.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Frazier, Michael
Commitee: Arah, Benjamin, Felder, Cain H., Fred-Mensah, Ben K., Gomes, Ralph C.
School: Howard University
Department: Political Science
School Location: United States -- District of Columbia
Source: DAI-A 78/08(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: African American Studies, Criminology, Public policy
Keywords: Peculiar capitalism, Prison indutrial complex, Racial contract, Racial group threat theory, Social inequality, Triangulation
Publication Number: 10191162
ISBN: 978-1-369-65123-2
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