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This provided the context for a series of policy choices—across all branches and levels of government—that significantly increased sentence lengths, required prison time for minor offenses, and intensified punishment for drug crimes.
In this chapter, we first summarize the findings and state our conclusions from the review of the evidence presented in the preceding chapters.
We next consider the implications of these findings for public policy.
If rising crime were the only new social trend of the 1960s, the link between crime and incarceration might be clear-cut.
But political activism and race relations also came to a boil.
We then make specific suggestions for reform in the areas of sentencing policy, prison policy, and social policy. By 2012, the prison and jail population had grown to 2.23 million people, and the United States had by far the highest reported rate of incarceration in the world. rate in 2012 was seven times higher, at 707 per 100,000.
The next section offers recommendations for further research. Today, adult incarceration rates of the Western European democracies average around 100 per 100,000, and in the common law countries of Australia and Canada, the rates are only slightly higher. At this level of penal confinement, the United States (accounting for about 5 percent of the world’s population) holds close to 25 percent of the global incarcerated population.In so doing, we draw on the long-standing normative principles of jurisprudence and public policy that historically guided deliberations on the use of incarceration as a response to crime.Our findings and conclusions, supplemented by these normative principles, lead us to the main recommendation that federal and state policy makers should take steps to significantly reduce the rate of incarceration in the United States. rate of incarceration in 2007 was more than four and one-half times the rate in 1972 (Chapter 2 details these trends).13 Findings, Conclusions, and Implications Originating in a period of rising crime rates and social foment and driven by punitive sentencing policy, the steep increase in incarceration in the United States was carried out with little regard for an objective evaluation of benefits or possible harms.This committee was charged with assessing the causes of the steep increase and the consequences that followed.Civil rights action and conservative reaction produced a contentious and sometimes violent politics that blurred the line between protest and disorder. Riotous unrest culminated in the Kerner Commission (1968) report that surveyed dozens of incidents of disorder in 23 cities.The civil rights acts themselves upended the racial order of the south and outlawed discrimination in labor and housing markets across the country. The Commission, struggling to untangle a complex mix of crime, racial inequality, and politics, famously concluded that the nation was moving to “two societies, one black, one white—separate and unequal.” Rising crime and disorder were accompanied by declining manufacturing sector employment in inner cities, classically described in William Julius Wilson’s (1987) The Truly Disadvantaged.In short, the period of rising crime accompanied a period of intense political conflict and a transformation of U. In Wilson’s analysis, the outmigration of whites and working class blacks left behind pockets of concentrated disadvantage.These poor, racially segregated neighborhoods were characterized not just by high rates of crime but also by an array of other problems, including high rates of unemployment and widespread single parenthood.Most studies conclude that rising incarceration rates reduced crime, but the evidence does not clearly show by how much.A number of studies also find that the crime-reducing effects of incarceration become smaller as the incarceration rate grows, although this may be reflecting the aging of prison populations.