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After the Fall: Assessing the Impact of the Great Prison Experiment on Future Crime Control Policy

NCJ Number
Federal Probation Volume: 77 Issue: 3 Dated: December 2013 Pages: 3-14
James M. Byrne
Date Published
December 2013
12 pages
This article summarizes the available research on the impact of the increased use of incarceration on crime rates and future crime control policy.
This article focuses on research examining the use of incarceration to reduce crime rates and the effect that this has had on crime control policy. Beginning in the 1970s, State and Federal authorities began using incarceration as a means to improve public safety. Research has found that since that time, the prison population in the United States increased by 628 percent; however, the deterrent effect of incarceration has not occurred as expected. In addition, the research indicates that incarceration does not foster individual offender rehabilitation, prisons only have a modest general deterrent/incapacitation effect, greater rates of incarceration have not aided in improving public safety. As a result of these finding, researchers and policymakers have been looking at alternatives to reduce crime rates and improve public safety. One strategy being considered is justice reinvestment. This essay discusses the three justice reinvestment strategies that have been proposed to date: 1) a treatment investment strategy; 2) a police investment strategy; and 3) a community investment strategy; and highlights some of the research that has been conducted in this area. Tables and references