The title of this post is the title of a new book authored by Jeffrey Bellin and an excerpt is now available here via SSRN. Here is the associated abstract:
Despite some reductions in recent years, the United States continues to imprison a stunningly high proportion of its population. And the modest reforms enacted so far face an uncertain future in light of a growing perception of rising crime and the persistent allure of “tough on crime” politics.
Lasting progress requires an understanding of the true complexity of mass incarceration, including the myriad factors that fuel the phenomenon. A new book, Mass Incarceration Nation: How the United States Became Addicted to Prisons and Jails and How It Can Recover, offers that understanding, providing a novel, descriptive account of the rise of mass incarceration that draws on the author’s experience both as an academic researcher and as a participant in the phenomenon (as a former prosecutor). The final part of the book turns this descriptive account into a prescription for reform. By highlighting the precise mechanisms by which legislators, police, prosecutors, judges, and other officials, overfill our prisons and jails, the book reveals a path to returning to the low incarceration rates (and low crime) that characterized the United States prior to the 1970s.
This excerpt includes the Table of Contents and the Introduction to the book, now available from Cambridge University Press.