Write a Speech on Incarceration

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The Scenario

You and several colleagues at your non-profit are working on a research project focused on the relationship between race and incarceration. As your research progressed, you realized that the U.S. incarcerates far more of its population than any other modern, industrialized nation and that certain racial minorities are incarcerated at much higher rates than their white counterparts.

Your Task

You have been invited to give a short speech on whether incarceration should continue to be our go-to punishment in the U.S. at the upcoming meeting of an advocacy organization for prison reforms.

Your speech will, at a minimum, address all of the following questions:

  1. What percentage of U.S. adults are currently incarcerated? What is their demographic make-up (age, sex, race, class)?
  2. Why and how is race an important component of the discussion of mass incarceration? How does white privilege factor in?
  3. Use conflict theory to illustrate why and how is class an important component of the discussion of mass incarceration?
  4. Should we continue to utilize incarceration as our go-to form of punishment in the U.S.? Why or why not? Some Questions to Consider: Is it effective? What positive/negative effects does it have? Is it doled out fairly? [Note: This is the heart of your speech! The vast majority of your time and effort should be dedicated to answering this question.]

Feel free to be as creative as you’d like! The use of appropriate visual aides can add a lot to any speech.

Speech Guidelines

  • Your speech must be well-written and well-thought out.
  • Your speech should reference at least one sociological theory of deviance covered in the course material.
  • Your speech must be thorough, fully answering all of the questions posed above.
  • Your speech must utilize full sentences with proper grammar, spelling and punctuation.
  • Your speech should demonstrate that you have a thorough understanding of the sociological approach to understanding deviance, class and race.


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