The concluding chapter makes clear that despite the negative outcomes for felons reentering society, a felony conviction has many “useful” purposes rooted in historical practices and politics. A felony conviction is a powerful tool that is integral to maintaining a discourse about “us” versus “them” that fuses distinct social-economic institutions, such as housing, education, and employment, to the criminal justice system. This chapter describes how the term “felon” defines an individual’s worth in such a way as to become a simple short-cut that widens the net of policies, maintains the broader social system of white supremacy, supports legal and political structures and tough-on-crime initiatives, and extends the original punishment to socially disable men and women convicted of a felony. This chapter argues that the negative externalities that restrict felons from accessing critical public assistance engender failure in the returning population, resulting in recidivism, and reinforce the concept of retribution.
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