Perception Gaps Locked Up

Challenging perceptions about mass incarceration

Welcome to “Perception Gaps: Locked Up”

Samantha Laine Perfas
Senior Multimedia Reporter

Nelson Mandela once said, “No one truly knows a nation until one has been inside its jails.” 

The United States is the No. 1 incarcerator of people in the world. But do we really understand our criminal justice system? Why do we lock up so many people, and how does that affect our society? In this season of “Perception Gaps,” I'm joined by my colleagues Henry Gass and Jessica Mendoza to challenge what we think we know about the criminal justice system, examine the impact of putting people behind bars, and find humanity in a flawed and damaging institution.

Perception Gaps

Season 2: Locked Up

In Season 2 of “Perception Gaps,” we explore misperceptions in the American criminal justice system. We look at the history of mass incarceration, racial disparities in the system, and the role imprisonment plays in the U.S. today.

Incarceration, Reimagined

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Our justice system faces a lot of challenges – not least of which are the public’s misperceptions about the system and how it affects communities. How do we rethink and reimagine the way we serve justice? Join host Samantha Laine Perfas and guests: writer and journalist Baz Dreisinger, criminal justice policy expert Michele Deitsch, field researcher Reuben Miller, prison abolitionist Amber-Rose Howard, victim advocate Aswad Thomas, and justice advocates Kevin Garrett, Romilda Pereira, and Stacey Borden.

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The Purpose of Prison

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Why do we lock people up? Is it to punish offenders or to rehabilitate them? A majority of Americans say they want… both. But those goals often compete with each other, and the result is a system that’s dysfunctional at best – and deadly at worst. Join host Samantha Laine Perfas in Episode 5 with guests: writer and activist Jeremiah Bourgeois, research policy analysts Nazgol Ghandnoosh and Bethany Young, victim advocate Jennifer Bishop-Jenkins, and former corrections officer Andy Potter.

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When Corrections Goes Corporate

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Private prisons receive a lot of flak from politicians, reform advocates, and the public. And yet data shows they make up a relatively small fraction of the billions of dollars that go into the criminal justice system. In Episode 4, Monitor reporters Henry Gass and Jessica Mendoza visit Evanston, Wyoming, to understand how money flows in and out of the system – and to explore the moral dilemma that flow creates. Join host Samatha Laine Perfas and guests: prison policy experts Bernadette Rabuy and Lauren-Brooke Eisen, private corrections representative Alexandra Wilkes, and residents of Evanston.

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Justice at the Borders

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For decades, research has shown that more immigration doesn’t mean more crime. But the myth of “the dangerous immigrant” remains a powerful force in American politics and rhetoric. In Episode 3, we look at how the stereotype came to be and the ties between immigration detention and mass incarceration. Join host Samantha Laine Perfas and Monitor reporter Henry Gass with guests: criminologist Charis Kubrin, activist Hoda Katebi, immigration policy expert Muzaffar Chishti, sociologist Jonathan Metzl, and immigration attorney Laura Peña.

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The Color of Imprisonment

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Is the criminal justice system fair? It turns out white and Black Americans often have very different answers for that question. In Episode 2, we look at how race affects our perceptions of crime – and punishment. Join host Samantha Laine Perfas with guests: race scholar Paula D. McClain, political scientist Spencer Piston, sociologist Yasser Payne, author Jess Row, criminologist Thaddeus Johnson, and exoneree Christopher Scott.

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America Behind Bars

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The American criminal justice system is based on the idea that a person is innocent until proven guilty. But did you know that most people in jail have not been convicted of a crime? How is this happening? In Episode 1 of Season 2, host Samantha Laine Perfas explores the history of incarceration in the U.S. and the far-reaching effects of locking up millions of people. With guests: criminal law professor Alexandra Natapoff, sociologist Bruce Western, “70 Million” podcast creator Juleyka Lantigua-Williams, and clients of the Chicago Community Bond Fund.

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Introducing Perception Gaps Season 2: Locked Up

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Join the Monitor's Samantha Laine Perfas, Henry Gass, and Jessica Mendoza as they discuss the next season of "Perception Gaps," which focuses on misperceptions in the criminal justice system.

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