Chicago’s Million Dollar Blocks
About the website…
Noting that incarceration rates intensely affect communities of color adversely and disproportionally, and that the issue isn’t just confined to Illinois, we share the following map.
A war on neighborhoods
Illinois spending on incarceration is ineffective & costly to all. There are better ways to invest public dollars.
We hand out harsh sentences for all types of offenses. We give these sentences, overwhelmingly, to Chicagoans who live in our segregated, low-income neighborhoods on the west and south sides. This amounts to a war on neighborhoods.
Research and evidence
Incarceration has had a devastating impact on low-income African-American neighborhoods.
Starting with the identification of “million-dollar blocks” in the early 2000s, researchers have been identifying “hot spots” for mass incarceration. From this analysis, an emerging consensus has developed: incarceration has had a devastating impact on low-income African-American neighborhoods. Meanwhile, more affluent and white areas have gone largely unscathed.
Nowhere is this national trend more clear than in Chicago
Not only are the highest incarceration rates concentrated on the city’s west and south sides, but this spatial unevenness has held constant for more than two decades. 1 As a result, most urban residents with felony convictions come from and return to a small number of neighborhoods. The impact on residents is dramatic. In parts of Chicago’s West Side, nearly 70 percent of men between ages 18 and 54 are likely to have been subject to the criminal justice system.
We are unjustly punishing people for their circumstances, not just their actions
Though mass incarceration definitely targets specific places, it is driven by much more than the behavior of people within any given locale. Research has made clear that local crime levels are not purely responsible for incarceration rates. 3 In other words, we are not simply punishing people for the crimes they commit. We are also punishing them for the places where they live, the schools that failed them and the employers that rejected them. And, without question, we are punishing them for the darkness of their skin. These factors work together to shape who gets portrayed as a criminal, and who escapes such portrayals.