skip navigation


Register for Latest Research

Stay Informed
Register with NCJRS to receive NCJRS's biweekly e-newsletter JUSTINFO and additional periodic emails from NCJRS and the NCJRS federal sponsors that highlight the latest research published or sponsored by the Office of Justice Programs.

NCJRS Abstract

The document referenced below is part of the NCJRS Virtual Library collection. To conduct further searches of the collection, visit the Virtual Library. See the Obtain Documents page for direction on how to access resources online, via mail, through interlibrary loans, or in a local library.


NCJ Number: 149088 Find in a Library
Title: Brokered Justice: Race, Politics, and Mississippi Prisons, 1798-1992
Author(s): W B Taylor
Date Published: 1993
Page Count: 318
Sponsoring Agency: Ohio State University Press
Columbus, OH 43210
Publication Number: ISBN 0-8142-0621-2
Sale Source: Ohio State University Press
Hitchcock Hall, Room 316
2070 Neil Avenue
Columbus, OH 43210
United States of America
Type: Historical Overview
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This history of the Mississippi penal system from 1798 through 1992 examines the factors that have molded, and continue to mold, penal law and administration in that State and draws implications for the contemporary debate on correctional policy.
Abstract: Beginning with the birth of the Mississippi territory in 1798, this book addresses first the continuing legacy of racial inequity in public law from the days of slavery and Jim Crow to the Federal judiciary's attempt to confront the problem. The focus is on the factors that have molded Mississippi's penal law, the plight of policymakers functioning within a difficult scheme of governance, and the tactics used by those who have presided over a penal system. Excluding only recent years, Mississippi politics has revolved around an elaborate campaign designed to control a large African-American underclass. The campaign was waged through a republican political process and legitimatized by public law. The police powers of the State were committed to its fulfillment. The Nation's first elected judiciary presided, and the State's apparatus of legal force functioned as the campaign's last line of defense. The penitentiary was essentially an institution for African-American felons, and most public officials believed it absurd to base penal policy on a medical model or anything else that conflicted with the entire superstructure of public law. At the penitentiary at Parchman, the State established a huge cotton plantation, organized and administered on long-standing principles of slave management. Parchman's financial productivity sagged with the cotton market in the early 1950's, and political inertia ended profits altogether later in the decade. The plantation's antebellum foundations did not crack until the mid-1970's, however. On the other hand, no public record of any other State contains greater revelations of the iniquities of criminal policy than that of Mississippi, or more evidence of a desire to root them out. Mississippi's penal history, therefore, is a paradox, a chronicle of conflicting impulses. The latest era in Mississippi's penal history began in 1972 when U.S. district judge William Keady abandoned a long-standing "hands-off" doctrine and extended to Mississippi's convicts most of the Constitutional safeguards afforded other citizens. Mississippi legislators and executives continue to wrestle with the implementation of court-ordered penal reforms. Chapter notes, a bibliographic essay, and a subject index
Main Term(s): History of corrections
Index Term(s): Black/African Americans; Corrections policies; Court ordered institutional reform; Mississippi; Political influences; Racial discrimination
To cite this abstract, use the following link:

*A link to the full-text document is provided whenever possible. For documents not available online, a link to the publisher's website is provided. Tell us how you use the NCJRS Library and Abstracts Database - send us your feedback.