Color behind Bars

Racism in the U.S. Prison System

by Scott Wm. Bowman, Editor


Racial over- and under-representation in the U.S. prison system is not simply "black vs. white."

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Cover image for Color behind Bars

August 2014


Pages 669
Volumes 2
Size 6 1/8x9 1/4
Topics Race and Ethnicity/General

A diverse, critical analysis of racial and ethnic disparities within the American criminal justice system that encourages critical thinking by providing various sides to the issues.

Low-income African Americans, Latin Americans, and American Indians bear the statistical brunt of policing, death penalty verdicts, and sentencing disparities in the United States. Why does this long-standing inequity exist in a country where schoolchildren are taught to expect "justice for all"? The original essays in this two-volume set not only examine the deep-rooted issues and lay out theories as to why racism remains a problem in our prison system, but they also provide potential solutions to the problem. The work gives a broad, multicultural overview of the history of overrepresentation of ethnic minorities in our prison system, examining white/black disparities as well as racism and issues of ethnic-based discrimination concerning other ethnic minorities. This up-to-date resource is ideally suited for undergraduate students who are enrolled in criminal justice or racial/ethnic studies classes and general readers interested in the U.S. criminal justice system.


  • Presents a historical examination of racial and ethnic influences in the early formation of the criminal justice system
  • Allows readers to identify the ways in which our prison system has changed throughout history regarding racism—and the ways in which it has remained the same
  • Provides a critical analysis of the current race- and ethnicity-based criminal justice system
  • Identifies intersectionalities of race/ethnicity and socioeconomic status within the criminal justice system
Author Info

Scott Wm. Bowman, PhD, is associate professor of criminal justice at Texas State University, San Marcos, TX. He has published scholarly works on the subjects of race, crime, and juvenile justice. Bowman holds a doctorate in justice studies from Arizona State University.



"Summing Up: Recommended. Graduate students and faculty in sociology and criminology; criminal justice professionals and police training academies."Choice

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