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Exceptional AmericaWhat Divides Americans from the World and from Each Other$
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Mugambi Jouet

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780520293298

Published to California Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520293298.001.0001

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Mass Incarceration, Executions, and Gun Violence in “the Land of the Free”

Mass Incarceration, Executions, and Gun Violence in “the Land of the Free”

(p.194) Seven Mass Incarceration, Executions, and Gun Violence in “the Land of the Free”
Exceptional America

Mugambi Jouet

University of California Press

Mass incarceration exists in America on a scale unmatched in global history. America is also the only Western democracy that has not abolished the death penalty; and one of the nations that execute the most prisoners alongside abusive dictatorships like China, North Korea, and Iran. American justice is further characterized by pervasive racial discrimination, the peculiar “War on Drugs,” the dehumanizing treatment of juveniles, and routine use of harmful solitary confinement. Modern America has thus become a systematic human rights violator in criminal law and punishment. It was not always so, as foreigners once saw American justice as enlightened. Harsh justice has not made America particularly safe. It has the highest murder rate and the most gun violence in the West due to extraordinarily lax gun control shaped by die-hard partisans of the Second Amendment and lobbying by the NRA. Criminal justice reform gained more attention after shootings of unarmed black men in Ferguson and beyond led to the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement. However, historical root causes behind this dimension of American exceptionalism have been widely overlooked, including systemic racism, populism, anti-intellectualism, market fundamentalism, and religious fundamentalism.

Keywords:   Mass Incarceration, Death Penalty, Gun Violence, Racism, Religion, Human Rights, Criminal Law, Juvenile Justice

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