Perhaps in response to the prospect of widespread civic engagement, the powers that be embarked on a rear-guard action in response to universal suffrage, emancipation at age eighteen and the requirements of open government and FOIA. The object was to achieve a culture of obedience. As a part of that, the agents of law enforcement were redirected from responding to (prominent) citizen complaints to insuring a compliant citizenry.
Administrators at the local and state level bought into this agenda, which would give them more authority, under the rubric of being “proactive” (protective), rather than responsive. In other words, instead of responding to miscreants and preventing a repetition of bad behavior, law enforcers were redirected to “maintain social order.” I put that in quotes because that objective is currently part of our local police department’s “mission statement.” See, they are all on a mission, rather than performing as public servants.
One of the consequences of the emphasis on compliance is that the really bad actors know how to play the system. They feign contrition, lie out in a confession and resume their mayhem as soon as possible. If that mayhem is even half way expert, they can afford a well-known lawyer whose lifelihood depends on getting expert bad guys off the hook. So, only the poor dumb ones (and innocent truth tellers) end up in prison.
It is a mistake to argue from the consequence (the excessive number of prisoners of color and the growing number of females) to the cause. The system aims for compliance and so it arrests the non-compliant and those who challenge the system, including religious who object to the maintenance of nuclear weapons (who are all white).
I myself, a white woman, have been arrested and taken to jail once (at age 40) and threatened with arrest (at age 64) for challenging a cop’s authority to be doing what he was doing. My spouse, also a white person, has been arrested too often to count because he was doing what authorities did not want (taking the census in minority neighborhoods in 1960).
I will grant that some black people are perhaps more resistant to being rendered compliant. Yet, many of my black acquaintances are quite content to have their children physically assaulted by teachers if they do not learn right or mouth off. Physical abuse gets a pass, if it does not leave a permanent mark.
Ask yourself what the children are supposed to think when those who profess to love them assent to their physical abuse? Whom are they to turn to? At least, if they don’t get shot and just get arrested, there is a chance someone will attend to their rights.
The culture of obedience is abusive. It is inconsistent with the presumptions in the Constitution, but because the provisions of the Constitution were not realized for 180 years and the powers that be did not want to see a change, our public servants have looked upon the citizenry (almost all of it) as the enemy. Republicans snear about “populism” but the Democratic operatives are not much happier about the “socialists.”
Do not forget that Barack Obama bragged to Wall Street that he was standing between them and the pitchforks. Why did he do that? Because even his short time in the Senate taught him that the banksters, the manipulators of the currency, are the enforcers of monetary superiority, have been ever since Congress was “persuaded” to hand over the management of the currency to the banks. For what purpose? So they could pretend to be dependent on revenues when it comes to federal spending and reward their corporate supporters in exchange for being selected and elected by the ubiquitous chambers of commerce.
Commerce, by the way, if you are looking for a bête noire is it. The commercial middlemen initiated the slave trade, depleted the continent of bison and beaver, instigated the Revolution against taxes and secured for themselves all sort of monopolies backed up by military force. And commerce is now responsible for propelling the pandemic in the interest of moving things around so the middlemen can get their cut.
The commercial class is also responsible for the resurging industry of human husbandry. Just think, our little county jail is securing a commission for the sheriff from inmate phone calls of $245,000 a year. You want to know where poor people’s money is going? Check your local jail.