Since the era of Slavery, African Americans have been criminalized by the United States Justice System and continue to be subject to such criminalization throughout the eras of convict leasing, chain gangs, and mass incarceration. The purpose of this research is to analyze the relationship between African Americans and the Criminal Justice System in the United States. The focus is to make connections throughout the eras and provide an argument that these eras are precursors to Mass Incarceration. A caste system has been established based on race throughout the eras and even in modern times as the United States continues to target African Americans through the Criminal Justice System and maintain their subjection through various practices of disenfranchisement. Towards the end of the project, empirical research was conducted in which the author observed first hand Video Arraignments in the Fayette County District Court in Lexington, Kentucky, and recorded the nature of charges pertaining to drugs and race. These observations confirmed and challenged the ways that racial caste is an appropriate analytic for understanding mass incarceration today.

Semester/Year of Award

Fall 2018


Judah Schept

Mentor Professional Affiliation

Justice Studies

Access Options

Restricted Access Thesis

Document Type

Bachelor Thesis

Degree Name

Honors Scholars

Degree Level



Justice Studies