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A Path Forward from 50 Years of Mass Incarceration in the United States

The year 2023 marks 50 years of mass incarceration in the United States. This timely volume highlights and addresses pressing social problems associated with the U.S.’s heavy reliance on mass imprisonment. In an atmosphere of charged political debate, including “tough on crime” rhetoric, the editors bring together scholars and experts in the criminal justice field to provide the most up-to-date science on mass incarceration and its ramifications on justice-impacted people and our communities.

This book offers practical solutions for advocates, policy and lawmakers, and the wider public for addressing mass incarceration and its effects to create a more just, fair and safer society.

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This volume provides the public at large, scholars, students, and policy-makers with sociological analyses of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on a series of significant social problems. For the individual, nothing rises to the level of losing a loved one. The pandemic, however, has done more than wreak havoc on the lives of millions of people—disproportionately people of color and the poor. Consequently, COVID-19 has reminded us of the deep and persistent underlying societal inequities that explain the disparate impact of this pandemic on different groups. Viruses do not discriminate, but we do. The chapters in this volume speak eloquently to this disparate impact and provide us with a deeper understanding of the changes required to avert similar, if not more devastating, consequences in the future. Meanwhile, the politically calculated response by elected officials to the pandemic calls into question whether it is enough to provide solutions based on rigorous scientific analyses. Politics, not science, tends to win when the two are pitted against one another—and that, clearly, has implications for the work we do, how we do it, and for whom we do it. While problems often require short-term responses to address the immediate suffering of millions, and they are prescribed in these chapters, long-term solutions to these problems require fundamental social structural changes, addressed as well, either explicitly or implicitly, in this volume.

The Agenda for Social Justice volumes and this latest title on COVID-19 were conceived to target a different, broader audience than sociologists typically target, with analyses of social problems.

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Welcome to the second, global-focused volume of Social Problems in the Age of COVID-19, a rapid-response project in public sociology intended to provide a broad audience with rigorous scholarly insight on social problems during the COVID-19 pandemic. All involved in this project have been compelled by the objective to provide timely and high-quality scholarly insight on the effects of COVID-19 on social problems, which can be of use to scholars, students, activists, policymakers, journalists, and the interested public. The editors and authors expect these chapters will be of use to readers for making sense of the ongoing COVID-19 crisis and its after-effects, just as they will inform policy decisions and engagement in social action.

The volume fits within the scholarly rubric of public sociology, and the editors are members of the Society for the Study of Social Problems’ (SSSP) Justice 21 Committee (J-21), whose creation was inspired by the 2000 Presidential Address of Professor Robert Perrucci, 48th President of the SSSP and founding member of J-21 (Perrucci, 2001). In his address, Dr Perrucci reminded SSSP members that much scholarship in the social problems field had become esoteric and abstract, thereby diminishing its utility as a resource for mitigating or solving the very problems which are its focus of study. Dr Perrucci’s reminder was that the SSSP and the journal Social Problems were established within a model of scholarship that saw research and publication as integrated with social action to address pressing social problems. Since its establishment, the J-21 group has published a series of volumes titled Agenda for Social Justice (US-focused) and Global Agenda for Social Justice (globally focused).

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US Perspectives

Written by a highly respected team of authors brought together by the Society for the Study of Social Problems (SSSP), this book provides accessible insights into pressing social problems in the United States in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic and proposes public policy responses for victims and justice, precarious populations, employment dilemmas and health and well-being.

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Global Perspectives

The COVID-19 pandemic is having far-reaching political and social consequences across the globe. Published in collaboration with the Society for the Study of Social Problems (SSSP), this book addresses the greatest social challenges facing the world as a result of the pandemic.

The authors propose public policy solutions to help refugees, migrant workers, victims of human trafficking, indigenous populations and the invisible poor of the Global South.

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The Global Agenda for Social Justice provides accessible insights into some of the world’s most pressing social problems and proposes practicable international public policy responses to those problems.

Written by a highly respected team of authors brought together by the Society for the Study of Social Problems (SSSP), chapters examine topics such as education, violence, discrimination, substance abuse, public health, and environment. The volume provides recommendations for action by governing officials, policy makers, and the public around key issues of social justice.

The book will be of interest to scholars, practitioners, advocates, journalists, and students interested in public sociology, the study of social problems, and the pursuit of social justice.

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