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Defining Racial Justice Terms: Mass Incarceration

YWCA Central Carolinas has proudly done Racial Justice & Advocacy work in the Charlotte community for 118 years and counting! With our programs, events and advocacy there’s a lot of terminology thrown around and we want to make sure that all YWCA supporters know what they mean!

Today’s term is mass incarceration. This refers to the unique way the U.S. has locked up a vast population in federal and state prisons, as well as local jails (source:

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Mass incarceration generally affects people of color. According to the NAACP, in 2014, African Americans/American Blacks constituted 2.3 million, or 34%, of the total 6.8 million correctional population. (It should be noted that according to the 2010 Census, African Americans/American Blacks made up 14% of the US population.)

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To further your knowledge about this disproportionate incarceration of people of color, you can read Peter Edelman’s Not A Crime To Be Poor: The Criminalization of Poverty in America, as well as read up on the work that The Sentencing Project is doing.

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