Thursday, February 28, 2013

Prison and the Poverty Trap - Why Longer Sentences Hurt Society

The United States’ incarceration rate is the world’s highest, and the number of Americans in state and federal prisons has quintupled since 1980. This New York Times article from February 19, 2013, "Prison and the Poverty Trap," describes how social scientists are finding that the benefits of incarceration are far outweighed by the costs. While "crime may initially decline in places that lock up more people, within a few years the rate rebounds and is even higher than before."  Such a rebound could result from the negative impact of incarceration on families, job prospects, future wages, and health. The online article has links to the various articles, books, and studies cited:

James C. Thomas & Elizabeth Torrone, Incarceration as Forced Migration: Effects on Selected Community Health Outcomes, Am J Public Health. 2006 October; 96(10): 1762–1765.

Bruce Western, Punishment and Inequality in America (2007)

Pew Charitable Trusts, Pew Quantifies the Collateral Costs of Incarceration on the Economic Mobility of Former Inmates, Their Families, and Their Children (2010)

Christopher Wildeman & Bruce Western, Incarceration in Fragile Families, The Future of Children, Volume 20, Number 2, Fall 2010, pp. 157-177

Robert H. DeFina & Lance Hannon, The Impact of Mass Incarceration on Poverty (2009)

Donad Braman, Doing Time on the Outside (2004)



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