Between 1990 and 2000, the number of people in U.S. prisons and jails increased from 292 per 100,000 to 481 per 100,000. But the number of women in prison rose even more sharply, doubling over the ten-year period.
Racial inequality remains deeply embedded within U.S. social and economic structures, even as its forms and justifications are in flux. Additionally, although the U.S. has long been considered “a nation of immigrants,” the question of who those immigrants are and where they come from, has provided fertile ground for exclusionary and bigoted policies for over 200 years. The projection that the U.S. will no longer be a majority white country sometime in the mid-21st century, along with the government’s massive post-911 campaign of racial profiling, has reinvigorated White supremacist anxieties present in the U.S. since its founding.
A well-funded and organized constellation of organizations with direct ties to racist eugenics and White nationalism are now at the forefront of efforts to slow this demographic trend. Its current manifestations—workplace abuses, the separation of families, and the further expansion of mass incarceration, among other things—have wide-reaching and adverse effects.