Mass Incarceration : Disparities, Reentry And Policy Implications Essay

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Mass Incarceration: Disparities, Reentry and Policy Implications

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Incarceration rates have increased from 400,000 people in 1975 to 2.1 million in 2003; a fivefold increase, making the United States a leader in rates compared to other nations (Morenoff & Harding, 2014). These numbers bear a great burden on individuals, families, and communities in various ways. First, with 700,000 individuals being released from prison annually comes difficulty in reentering society both socially and economically; difficulty finding work, education, strained relationships, and social stigma (Morenoff & Harding, 2014). Second, the increasing rates of incarceration are disproportionately and unfairly impacting minorities, specifically African-Americans, and poor urban communities (Morenoff & Harding, 2014). A New York Times article by Furman and Holtz-Eakin (2016) states that $80 billion dollars--$600 per household--is spent on corrections annually, or a 1,700 percent increase in the federal prison budget in just thirty years. These increases have a deep historical background, many complex and interweaving factors, and require urgent reform.
Before diving into the relevant action steps, it is important to understand the history that led to this crisis. Thompson (2010), states that after World War II, cities were highly valued and popular until conflict, poverty, and distress led to the demise of these cities; thus increasing the value of suburban

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