Government by Disposal: How Social Construction Theory and Inmate Mortality Demonstrate American Political and Moral Hypocrisy
Ample research proves the American criminal justice system to be a mechanism for the unjust incarceration of hundreds of thousands of non-violent offenders. Less studied is the fact that thousands of these prisoners die agonizing and ugly deaths in custody each year at the discretion of government officials and public awareness is noticeably lacking. American government is complicit in the expedited premature death of thousands of federal and state inmates thanks to general prisoner anonymity, sociocultural constructs that invite condescension between individuals, and a morally repressive political system. The following analysis regarding the negligent mood underpinning inmate mortality issues attempts to draw connections between American sociological constructs along economic, political, and cultural lines. The priority of this thesis is to detail how such a stunning trend of maleficence has been able to go unchecked for decades, and what this says about American moral and political culture. Social construction theory will be used as a foundation to understanding how subscription to the ideals of American social hierarchies dictates political coercion and consent, and the manner in which this allowed for the emergence of mass incarceration. Further, political alignment and corresponding criminal justice positions will be scrutinized for moral authenticity and juxtaposed to traditional moral interpretations of the U.S. Constitution for ideological consistency. By doing so, I explore how moral and political hypocrisy has led to American moral atrophy, in turn facilitating the ongoing inmate health care crisis, through the sublimation of political values to financial priorities. I also discuss the resolutions for the inmate health crisis through a retroactive, legislative draw-down of incarcerated populations in order to free up budgets and reduce health care provider backlogs. In order to promote the utilitarian benefit of America's perception as a global beacon of freedom and personal liberty, the release of non-violent prisoners is advocated for under the pretense of mending the deep divides along class and racial lines that permeate American society. Finally, I will argue for the reinterpretation of penal philosophy to retreat from methods of incarceration and deterrence. I will attempt to persuade corrections officials to go further than simple rehabilitation and aim for complete redemption of inmates in the eyes of society, in part through the use of biblical overtones. The intended result will entail the eventual bowing of the arc of the moral universe back towards justice and even beyond towards redemption.