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AFRS 325: The Black Male

Related Resources (General)


Prison-Industrial Complex

The term prison-industrial complex refers to the economic interrelation between prisons and the various public and private job sectors that have become dependent on the expansion of the prison system. A partial list of these sectors includes construction, pharmaceuticals, and law enforcement, including probation and parole. The prison-industrial complex also provides a cheap labor force for various corporations.

The growth of the prison-industrial complex in the United States has come at the expense of predominantly black and Latino communities. Angela Davis observed in Are Prisons Obsolete? that “more than two million people (out of a world total of nine million) now inhabit US prisons, jails, youth facilities, and immigrant detention centers” (2003, p. 10). A 2005 report for the US Department of Justice (Harrison, 2005) noted that, in June 2004, there were 1,717 Latino inmates, 4,919 black inmates, and 717 white inmates per 100,000 residents of each group.


Gutierrez, A. (2013). Prison-Industrial Complex. In P. L. Mason (Ed.), Encyclopedia of Race and Racism (2nd ed., Vol. 3, pp. 347-351). Macmillan Reference USA.