Leila Morsy

Leila Morsy is a senior lecturer in education at the University of New South Wales School of Education, and a research associate at the Economic Policy Institute.

Recent Articles

Mass Incarceration and the Achievement Gap

The impact of imprisoned parents on children shows how criminal justice policy is education policy.

AP Photo/Amy Sancetta
This article appears in the Spring 2017 issue of The American Prospect magazine. Subscribe here . The United States’ criminal justice system incarcerates at a rate that is unmatched in the modern world. There are today approximately 700 prisoners per 100,000 residents. The former Soviet republic of Turkmenistan follows, with 600 prisoners per 100,000 residents. South Africa, with its history of racial hierarchy, imprisons 300. Canada’s rate is about 100. The American incarceration rate wasn’t always this high. In the early 1970s, the rate was less than 170. Since then, it has grotesquely ballooned. Black parents, especially black fathers, are incarcerated at an exceptionally high rate. For every 100,000 black men, more than 2,700 are imprisoned. Excessive sentencing for minor crimes and our racially discriminatory “war on drugs” policies that began in the 1970s are largely to blame for the incarceration explosion. The reimprisonment of released offenders...