African Americans and punishment for crime: A critique of mainstream and neoliberal discourses

Jason Michael Williams, Nishaun Tarae Battle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Understandings of punishment within the criminological enterprise have failed to capture the nuances associated with experiencing punishment. Moreover, mainstream academic discourses are inherently anachronistic in their conclusions on punishment, thus leaving significant gaps to be filled. One such gap is that of racialized history. This article attempts to make sense of punishment discourses (past and present) by situating them in their proper context. We argue that punishment, in particular for Blacks, is ideological and longstanding. Moreover, we posit that the prolonged punishment of Blacks is hypermanifested in contemporary society via neoliberal logics that have increasingly disabled race as a central focal point in punishment discourses (in both political and academic contexts). We use established literature to bolster arguments and conclude with suggestions for future research.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)552-566
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Offender Rehabilitation
Issue number8
StatePublished - 17 Nov 2017


  • Criminal justice policy
  • justice outcomes
  • punishment
  • race disparity
  • sentencing


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