Unlocked: "Halfway Home: Race, Punishment, and the Afterlife of Mass Incarceration"


Location: Geddes Hall, Coffee House

“Mass incarceration has changed the social life of the city. It has filtered into the most intimate relationships and deformed the contours of American democracy, one poor (and most often) Black family at a time.” – Reuben Jonathan Miller

MacArthur “Genius Grant” Fellow and University of Chicago sociologist Dr. Reuben Miller is the author of Halfway Home: Race, Punishment, and the Afterlife of Mass Incarceration, a “persuasive and essential” (Dr. Matthew Desmond, Evicted) book that offers a “stunning, and deeply painful reckoning with our nation’s carceral system” (Heather Ann Thompson). As a chaplain at the Cook County Jail in Chicago and as a sociologist studying mass incarceration, he has spent years alongside prisoners, formerly incarcerated people, their families, and their friends to understand the lifelong burden that even a single arrest can entail. What his work reveals is a simple, if overlooked truth: life after incarceration is its own form of prison.

Halfway Home is a portrait of the many ways mass incarceration reaches into American life, sustaining structural racism and redrawing the boundaries of our democracy. Drawing from fifteen years of research, over 250 in-depth interviews with citizens whose lives have been touched by the criminal justice system, and his own experience as the son and brother of incarcerated Black men, Miller shows how the American carceral system was not created to rehabilitate. Instead he reveals how its design keeps classes of Americans impoverished, unstable, and disenfranchised long after they’ve paid their debt to society.

Reception to follow. This event is a part of the Unlocked: Understanding Mass Incarceration in the US series at the Center for Social Concerns.