Memorable Quotes from Caging America by Adam Gopnik

In the article The Caging of America Adam Gopnik raises an interesting question: “Why do we lock up so many people?” Gopnik exposes how America has a faulty profit driven way of dealing with incarceration.  

1. “That’s why no one who has been inside a prison, if only for a day, can ever forget the feeling. Time stops. A note of attenuated panic, of watchful paranoia—anxiety and boredom and fear mixed into a kind of enveloping fog, covering the guards as much as the guarded.”

I thought this was a very vivid quote that described prison accurately.

2. “Wealthy white teen-agers in baggy jeans and laceless shoes and multiple tattoos show, unconsciously, the reality of incarceration that acts as a hidden foundation for the country.”

Gopnik argues that prisons are very responsible for keeping America wealthy. It is costly for the government to keep millions of Americans in prison and it is most likely responsible for many tax cuts in the economy.

3. “Northern impersonality and Southern revenge converge on a common American theme: a growing number of American prisons are now contracted out as for-profit businesses to for-profit companies. The companies are paid by the state, and their profit depends on spending as little as possible on the prisoners and the prisons.”

Gopnik states that the judicial system in America is faulty. Prisons don’t focus on rehabilitating their inmates but rather to make massive profits. These prisons house as many people as they possibility can for as cheaply as they can to raise money for the state. This act of mass incarceration is no longer just focusing on major crimes but on smaller crimes such as drug use. It would seem that the system is looking for any opportunity to put an individual in prison. Many of the inmates incarcerated don’t necessarily need a jail sentence but a rehabilitation program.


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