Incarceration and Recidivism
Cheryl Lero Jonson
From 1930 to 1972, the United States experienced a relatively stable incarceration rate that hovered between 93 and 137 inmates per 100,000 individuals in the population (Blumstein & Beck, 1999). However, since the early 1970s, the United States has been in an era of mass incarceration, with currently more than 1.6 million Americans serving time in a state or federal prison (West & Sabol, 2009). If one adds to this the more than 785,000 individuals incarcerated in local jails, the number of people currently behind bars is a staggering 2.3 million people with the figure rising each successive year (Minton & Sabol, 2009). This sanction has become so pronounced that since 1972, there has been an unprecedented 600 percent increase in the number of individuals locked up, with more people currently incarcerated than working at both McDonald's and Wal-Mart combined worldwide (Nellis & King, 2009; Pager, 2007). Notably, this massive ...