Today’s mass incarceration is a contemporary phenomenon that entraps black and brown people in an expanding web of control and violence. It replaces a long standing range of punishments including whipping, carting, stocks and pillory, fines, and capital punishment. With a growing population and increasing criminalization of poverty, imprisonment of women has increased without consideration given to the impact on dependent children and how to keep women housed safely in a system designed for men.

This Article examines punishment over the last 200 years. Knowledge of this history is crucial for those dedicated to structural transformation of today’s criminal injustice system. Such efforts require a transformation of ideologies embedded into the nation’s founding and woven into the very fabric of our democracy until everyone gets treated humanely and is entitled to the revolutionary promises of life, liberty, and happiness.