Why Are So Many Americans in Prison?

A more convincing argument is that imprisonment rates have continued to rise while crime rates have fallen because we have become progressively more punitive: not because crime has continued to explode (it hasn’t), not because we made a smart policy choice, but because we have made a collective decision to increase the rate of punishment.

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2 Responses

  1. this way…the society itself reproduces the crime…good point!

  2. You’re right. A major problem is the American public’s infatuation with mandatory sentencing laws, which remove some discretionary judgment from the courts. State legislatures have no business judging and sentencing criminal defendants, but that’s in effect what we have.

    Another problem is that we have public-sector corporations like Corrections Corp. of America running prisons. A high incarceration rate is good for their business. They’re in a better position than the public at large to field lobbyists to press for harsher sentences.

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