Quite often I hear or read something that seems perfectly clear to me in its ramifications while seeming to bypass other people. Here’s a quote from Francis Fukuyama in his The Origins of Political Order, p. 260:
The vast majority of people in any peaceful society obey the law not so much because they are making a rational calculation about the costs and benefits, and fear of punishment. They obey becaue they believe that the law is fundamentally fair, and they are morally habituated to follow it. They are much less inclined to obey the law if they believe that it is unjust.”
Now how can anyone read this and not see a connection between it and the high rate of incarceration among African-Americans? I have spoken to Whites who literally laugh at the notion that the law is not fair to African-Americans……… and here I am not talking about a contemporary encounter but an encounter of 40 years ago. Back then, most White people scoffed at the notion that the law might not be fair to African-Americans. This at a time when laws were written specifically to excluded African-Americans from jobs, housing, education, politics, finance, etc. Who, us? No way. We are scrupulously fair and, if anything, we bend over backwards to compensate for Black people’s inherent immorality and criminality.
One can certainly say with justification that the Black incarceration rate is multidetermined and overdetermined and we can see that this long history of laughably unfair laws directed against Blacks contributes to the attitudes that lead to incarceration.I just wonder how many people are savvy enough to make the connection.