1. Update
  2. Criminal Justice

Mass Incarceration and the Legacy of Slavery

By José Santos Woss, Aristotle Jones, October 10, 2016


Let’s remember that our work to undo the threads of slavery and act to address racism starts with the work of ending these institutional systems of control.

A Historical Perspective

FCNL's Aristotle Jones takes a closer look at the evolution from slavery to mass incarceration. He analyzes the threads of institutional racism and systems of control.

The United States called by some the land of the free and the home of the brave, leads the world in incarceration, with over 2 million people behind bars; that is a 500 percent increase over the past 40 years. Moreover, the United States has just five percent of the world population, yet holds approximately 25 percent of its prisoners.

FCNL in the News The Evolution: Slavery to Mass Incarceration 

How did we get to the point of being the world's largest jailer? If history is any guide, it will show that mass incarceration is no mistake or policy mishap, but a system evolved from America’s greatest sin: slavery.

An Urgent Action

FCNL's José Santos Woss calls on all of us to make criminal justice reform a reality.

This system has young black men learning to shave for the first time in prison because of a possession charge, fathers removed from their families, girlfriends sent to prison for years simply because their boyfriends’ were drug dealers and they were caught in the midst. These are real people, not numbers.

FCNL in the News Congress, Don't Punt on Criminal Justice Reform 

We can’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good. The criminal justice reform bills in the House and Senate will not release violent offenders, and isn’t a get out of jail free card. They will not solve the nation’s recidivism crisis –but they will take an important step in that direction.

José Santos Woss

  • Legislative Associate for Domestic Policy

José Woss is the Legislative Associate for Domestic Policy. He leads FCNL’s work on criminal justice reform, campaign finance reform (election integrity), and police militarization. He co-Chairs the Interfaith Criminal Justice Coalition, an alliance of approximately 50 national faith groups advocating to end mass incarceration.

Aristotle Jones

  • Program Assistant for Domestic Policy

Aristotle Jones serves as a program assistant under Jose Woss working on mass incarceration. His primary responsibilities are to lobby members of Congress and to pursue a just society. Aristotle was born and raised in Indianapolis, IN. He earned his B.S. in Political Science from Tuskegee University.