a1 Department of Criminology, Law, and Society, University of California, Irvine
In 1930, W. E. B. Du Bois warned of an approaching backlash of racialized crime control and the two-pronged threat this posed to Black civil society. These were not altogether new threats—American criminal law and crime control practices had always been mechanisms of racialized societal exclusion—but Du Bois anticipated unprecedented levels of Black criminalization and incarceration in the second half of the twentieth century, and some of the collateral damage that would ensue. Du Bois's (1930) warning focused on juvenile crime and justice, “a problem which one can easily see among the better colored people of New York and Philadelphia, of Indianapolis and Chicago, of Pittsburgh and Baltimore, and all of our major cities” (p. 352). Du Bois (1916) had long been concerned with issues of child development and youth justice, since the fate of the “immortal child” inevitably defined the prospects and conditions of the race (Diggs 1976).
(Online publication June 07 2012)
Geoff K. Ward is Assistant Professor of Criminology, Law and Society at the University of California, Irvine. His work examines the racial politics of social control, including the racial history of juvenile justice, contemporary juvenile and federal court processes, and racial and ethnic group representation in justice-related occupations. He serves on the steering committees of the national Racial Democracy, Crime, and Criminal Justice Network and the Center for New Racial Studies at UC. His work appears in various academic journals and anthologies and he is the author of The Black Child-Savers: Racial Democracy and American Juvenile Justice (University of Chicago, 2012), a study linking the rise and fall of Jim Crow juvenile justice to the embattled racial politics of American liberal democracy.