1932

Abstract

Incarceration rates in the United States are far higher than in the world's other Western democracies, so high that they are referred to as mass incarceration. After nearly 40 years of sustained growth in US incarceration rates, a broad consensus exists to bring them down. The Iron Law of Prison Populations directs attention to the fact that 51 different jurisdictional-level penal policies, rather than crime, drive incarceration rates, making systematic policy reform difficult. However, the fact that prison populations have already begun to decline, combined with the emerging public will to reduce incarceration and dropping age-specific incarceration rates, promotes optimism in the decarceration agenda. Three issues remain to be resolved: the eventual target rate of incarceration, what to do with people convicted of violent crimes, and how to avoid the distracting focus on reentry programming.

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2021-01-13
2024-06-14
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