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Convicted and CondemnedThe Politics and Policies of Prisoner Reentry$
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Keesha M. Middlemass

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780814724392

Published to University Press Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9780814724392.001.0001

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date: 06 May 2021

Felony Conviction as Social Disability

Felony Conviction as Social Disability

(p.21) 1 Felony Conviction as Social Disability
Convicted and Condemned

Keesha M. Middlemass

NYU Press

This chapter introduces social disability theory to illustrate how felons are treated similarly to people living with a disability. Social disability theory is linked to the historical evolution of a felony conviction, the concept of stigma, infamous crimes, the politics of fear, and the racialization of crime. The history of race and race relations in the United States is an important component connected to a felony conviction, prisoner reentry, and social disability; race has been used to delegitimize entire communities as being deviant, and racial bias is seen in current public policies and the media’s presentation of criminals as black. This chapter explores the development of the public’s fear of black men, in particular. Politicians responded to the public’s fear by passing tough-on-crime policies to criminalize more behaviors as felonious and then using a felony conviction to socially disable felons.

Keywords:   social disability theory, infamous crimes, tough-on-crime policies

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