Causes Of Mass Incarceration

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Mass incarceration is a term that is used to define the “substantial increase in the number of incarcerated people in the United States’ prisons over the past forty years.” (The Atlantic, 2017) Although America contains about 5% of the world’s population, it holds 25% of the world’s prisoners. When compared to America, the prison populations of oppressive countries, like Russia, are basically nothing. The politics of this “land of the free” in the 80s and 90s led to the dramatic increase in incarceration rates and, by the end of 2010, more than two million people were imprisoned. The US seems to focus more on getting people into prison than on keeping them out.
No matter how you look at it, the prison system within the US holds too many people without valid reason. The last decade has seen a lot of states cut down on crime while also cutting down on their prison populations. In the years between 1999 and 2012, for example, both New York and New Jersey cut their prison populations by 30%, and crime rates fell “faster than they did nationally.”
That leads us to the next point; how many people are in prison that don’t need to be there? According to a study conducted by the Brennan Center for Justice over the course of three years, 39% of people in prison don’t actually need to be in prison. That’s 578,000 people out of two million. 25% of those people would be better off receiving treatment (mental and/or drug), probation, or community service. The other 14% have been there

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