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Causes of Mass Incarceration in the United States

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Added on  2022-10-10

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This paper evaluates the various reasons behind the high rate of incarceration in the US and critically analyses them to reach a conclusion and recommendation. The causes discussed include lengthy prison sentences, higher tendency of increased sentencing laws, economic condition of the offenders, drug related issues, racialization, and privatization of prison. The paper recommends amending the harsh imprisonment durations, decriminalizing drug related issues, and education in prison to prevent reincarceration.

Causes of Mass Incarceration in the United States

   Added on 2022-10-10

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Criminal Justice
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Causes of Mass Incarceration in the United States_1
Incarceration being one of the most crucial form of punishment and a type of
rehabilitation in case of serious offences in the United States, the number of prison-dwellers
are increasing by leaps and bounds every year, making U.S. ahead of other countries in terms
of holding the largest prison population record and incarceration rate in the world. As per the
last statistical data, there were 655 incarcerated people in the prison against 100,000 odd
However, there is no particular cause that could be stated as the major reason behind
such high rate of prison population in the U.S. Therefore, it is stated that there is a necessity
of reviewing the probable causes of high rate of incarceration in the U.S. in order to
find out a suitable solution to curb it. In this paper, the various reasons discussed by
different researchers would be evaluated and critically analysed in order to reach a conclusion
and subsequently certain recommendation as well.
The National Research Council published a report in 2014 that identified two causes
behind the growth of prison population in the US over the last 40 years. One of which is
identified as lengthy prison sentences and another is the tendency of the judiciary to deliver
judgments that are prone to imprison offenders rather than offering them a different kind of
rehabilitation or correctional facility.
Lengthy prison sentences
In comparison to the European Nations US tends to have a longer imprisonment
duration that naturally bulks up the population in the prison over the long duration of the
imprisonment of the offenders. However as per the statistical reports European Nations
having a shorter prison sentence in comparison to US and therefore certainly has a lesser
Causes of Mass Incarceration in the United States_2
prison population yet with the same or lesser crime rates (Clear & Frost, 2015). However it is
believed that a cap on the prison sentences would not end the high rate of incarceration all at
once, yet it would benefit at least ten thousand people who have been imprisoned over a long
period of time. It is proposed that if the duration of the prison sentences are lowered by the
federal and the state governments, a huge number of people would be benefited in future due
to the lesser duration of imprisonment which would captive a lesser number of people at
once. However such a preposition has a lesser chance to be accepted and transformed into a
policy to reform the criminal justice system in the US.
There are supportive studies that show 20 years to be a good cutoff duration for
setting the maximum sentence in a modern state. It has been seen that a person held guilty for
murder at the age of 20 has a lesser chance of repeating the same at the age of 40 after
serving a sentence of 20 years, thereby naturally reducing the number of offences and the rate
of imprisonment as well (Clear & Frost, 2015). However it cannot be evidently pointed out
that a lengthy imprisonment duration is the US is the major cause of mass incarceration.
Higher tendency of increased sentencing laws
It has been studied that the US judicial system has a tendency to offer a higher
sentence for the offenders in order to be stricter and more crucial than the other countries in
the world; for example the average sentence for a crime burglary in the United Kingdom is 7
months which is 16 months for the United States. Statistical report shows that the tendency of
the US judiciary is to deliver strict imprisonment sentences that are lengthy and often
unnecessary yet cannot be avoided due to the peculiarity in the criminal justice system (Clear
& Frost, 2015). The tendency of the judiciary to impose longer prison sentences on offenders
who are repeating their offences is also a common phenomenon in the US that increases the
rate of incarceration automatically. However to understand the tendency of the judiciary’s
reason behind imposing such lengthy imprisonment sentences need to be discussed.
Causes of Mass Incarceration in the United States_3

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