Why Are So Many Americans in Prison?
Publication Year: 2013
Published by: Russell Sage Foundation
Title Page, Copyright Page, Dedication
Tables and Figures
About the Authors
The findings in this book rest on our research over the past decade on various aspects of incarceration and corrections policy. Along the way we have received valuable feedback, encouragement, and support from countless colleagues, friends, and family. We are especially thankful for the feedback over...
Chapter 1. The Emergence of Mass Incarceration
Between 1970 and the present, a form of American exceptionalism has emerged that stands in stark contrast to the conventional sense of this phrase. Alexis de Tocqueville described an American exceptionalism based on the egalitarian nature of the American political system and the public institutions that ensure political competition and that balance and check the powers of...
Chapter 2. Understanding and Documenting the Determinants of Incarceration Growth
There are several stylized facts about the U.S. prison population that the lay reader is likely to find surprising. First, prisons are often mischaracterized as places where we lock people up and throw away the key. In fact, the typical person admitted to prison on a new felony conviction is likely to be released...
Chapter 3. What Would Current Incarceration Rates Be Under Previous Sentencing Practices?
We have documented several empirical facts about changes in the U.S. criminal justice system. First, someone convicted of a felony today is considerably more likely to be sentenced to a prison term relative to someone convicted in years past. This is especially the case for those convicted of nonviolent felonies...
Chapter 4. The Policy Changes Driving Incarceration Growth
The explosive growth of the U.S. prison population since the mid-1970s stands in stark contrast to the relative stability of the prison population during the preceding half-century. In a widely cited article, the criminologists Alfred Blumstein and Jacqueline Cohen (1973) noted the remarkable stability of the U.S. incarceration rate and posited natural predetermined levels of...
Chapter 5. Deinstitutionalization of the Mentally Ill and Growth in the U.S. Prison Population
Chapters 1 through 4 were devoted to explaining the increase in the nation’s incarceration rate since the mid-1970s. 1 The empirical decomposition and review of policy history yield a clear answer to the question posed in the title of this book. Namely, policy choices that have expanded the range of offenses to which incarceration is applied and the severity of prison sentences handed...
Chapter 6. Demographic Change, the Economy, and the Crack Epidemic
As we have emphasized throughout this book, policy choices as well as criminal behavior ultimately determine a nation’s incarceration rate. Specifically, the degree to which a nation decides to use prison as punishment and the intensiveness with which such punishment is employed determine who is sent to prison and for how long. Of course, except in the case of a wrongful...
Chapter 7. Incarceration and Crime
On July 31, 2006, the Italian Parliament passed legislation that reduced the sentences of most Italian prison inmates by three years, effective August 1, 2006. The clemency applied only to inmates convicted of a subset of felonies committed prior to May of that year. The passage of the “collective clemency” bill followed a six-year debate surrounding Italian prison conditions, spurred...
Chapter 8. What Now?
In this book, we have documented a tremendous shift in criminal justice policy in the United States that has rendered the nation first in the world in the number of its residents who are involuntarily confined in prisons and jails. Over three decades, our incarceration rate has more than quadrupled, with commensurate increases in the public resources devoted to maintaining...
Page Count: 336
Publication Year: 2013
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