Leaders: David Harding, Stephen Raphael, Joan Petersilia
Since the mid-1970s, the United States has experienced a precipitous rise in incarceration, with about 2.3 million U.S. adults now incarcerated in state and federal prisons. In recent years, there has been increasing pressure to wind down this commitment to mass imprisonment, and it’s accordingly important to study ways to reintegrate successfully. The Incarceration RG is tasked with monitoring and evaluating the relationship between poverty and sentencing, parole reform, probation, reintegration, and recidivism.
Poverty and the decline in prison population: Will the ongoing decline in California’s prison population bring about an increase in homelessness, mental health service use, and other poverty-relevant outcomes? This line of research will reveal whether ongoing declines in incarceration should be coordinated with increased funding for programs that may substitute for incarceration.
Arrests, race, and poverty: Is reducing arrests the only way to reduce criminal bookings (and the employment-reducing effects of such bookings)? There may be another way.
Incarceration - CPI Research
|Liberal But Not Stupid: Meeting the Promise of Downsizing Prisons||Francis Cullen, Joan Petersilia||
Liberal But Not Stupid: Meeting the Promise of Downsizing PrisonsAuthor: Francis Cullen, Joan Petersilia
Publisher: Stanford Criminal Law & Policy
A confluence of factors—a perfect storm—interfered with the intractable rise of imprisonment and contributed to the emergence of a new sensibility defining continued mass imprisonment as non-sustainable. In this context, reducing America’s prisons has materialized as a viable possibility. For progressives who have long called for restraint in the use of incarceration, the challenge is whether the promise of downsizing can be met. The failure of past reforms aimed at decarceration stands as a sobering reminder that good intentions do not easily translate into good results. Further, a number of other reasons exist for why meaningful downsizing might well fail (e.g., the enormous scale of imprisonment that must be confronted, limited mechanisms available to release inmates, lack of quality alternative programs). Still, reasons also exist for optimism, the most important of which is the waning legitimacy of the paradigm of mass incarceration, which has produced efforts to lower inmate populations and close institutions in various states. The issue of downsizing will also remain at the forefront of correctional discourse because of the court-ordered reduction in imprisonment in California. This experiment is ongoing, but is revealing the difficulty of downsizing; the initiative appears to be producing mixed results (e.g., reductions in the state’s prison population but increases in local jail populations). In the end, successful downsizing must be “liberal but not stupid.” Thus, reform efforts must be guided not only by progressive values but also by a clear reliance on scientific knowledge about corrections and on a willingness to address the pragmatic issues that can thwart good intentions. Ultimately, a “criminology of downsizing” must be developed to foster effective policy interventions.
|Improving Parole Release in America||Edward Rhine , Joan Petersilia, Kevin R Reitz||
Improving Parole Release in AmericaAuthor: Edward Rhine , Joan Petersilia, Kevin R Reitz
Publisher: Federal Sentencing Reporter
This article lays out a ten-point program for the improvement of discretionary parole-release systems in America. Taken together, our recommendations coalesce into an ambitious model that has never before existed in the United States. Even if adopted separately, our recommendations would achieve substantial incremental improvements in the current practices of all paroling systems.
|Homelessness and Housing Insecurity Among Former Prisoners||Claire W. Herbert , Jeffrey D. Morenoff , David Harding||
Homelessness and Housing Insecurity Among Former PrisonersAuthor: Claire W. Herbert , Jeffrey D. Morenoff , David Harding
Publisher: The Russell Sage Foundation Journal of the Social Sciences
The United States has experienced dramatic increases in both incarceration rates and the population of insecurely housed or homeless persons since the 1980s. These marginalized populations have strong overlaps, with many people being poor, minority, and from an urban area. That a relationship between homelessness, housing insecurity, and incarceration exists is clear, but the extent and nature of this relationship is not yet adequately understood. We use longitudinal, administrative data on Michigan parolees released in 2003 to examine returning prisoners’ experiences with housing insecurity and homelessness. Our analysis finds relatively low rates of outright homelessness among former prisoners, but very high rates of housing insecurity, much of which is linked to features of community supervision, such as intermediate sanctions, returns to prison, and absconding. We identify risk factors for housing insecurity, including mental illness, substance use, prior incarceration, and homelessness, as well as protective “buffers” against insecurity and homelessness, including earnings and social supports.
|Incarceration, Prisoner Reentry, and Communities||Jeffrey D. Morenoff, David Harding||
Incarceration, Prisoner Reentry, and CommunitiesAuthor: Jeffrey D. Morenoff, David Harding
Publisher: Annual Review of Sociology
Since the mid-1970s, the United States has experienced an enormous rise in incarceration and accompanying increases in returning prisoners and in postrelease community correctional supervision. Poor urban communities are disproportionately impacted by these phenomena. This review focuses on two complementary questions regarding incarceration, prisoner reentry, and communities: (a) whether and how mass incarceration has affected the social and economic structure of American communities, and (b) how residential neighborhoods affect the social and economic reintegration of returning prisoners. These two questions can be seen as part of a dynamic process involving a pernicious feedback loop in which mass incarceration undermines the structure and social organization of some communities, thus creating more criminogenic environments for returning prisoners and further diminishing their prospects for successful reentry and reintegration.
|Keeping Track: California Prison Downsizing and Its Impact on Local Criminal Justice Systems||Joan Petersilia||
Keeping Track: California Prison Downsizing and Its Impact on Local Criminal Justice SystemsAuthor: Joan Petersilia
Publisher: Harvard Law and Policy Review
Passage of California’s Public Safety Realignment Act (AB 109) initiated the most sweeping correctional experiment in recent history. Launched on October 1, 2011, Realignment shifted responsibility for most lower-level offenders from the state to California’s 58 counties. By mid-2013, more than 100,000 felons had been diverted from state prison or parole to county jail or probation.
This report summarizes the results of interviews conducted with California stakeholders responsible for implementing the law. Stanford Law School researchers conducted 125 interviews in 21 counties to produce a snapshot of how California is faring under Realignment so far. We talked with police, sheriffs, judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys, probation and parole agents, victim advocates, offenders, and social service representatives. Our goal was to determine how Realignment had influenced their agency’s work and what changes they would make to the law.
Our interviews revealed a justice system undergoing remarkable changes, arguably unprecedented in depth and scope. Stakeholders’ opinions varied widely, and their comments reflected their role in the system more than the county they represented. Overall, probation officials were the most enthusiastic champions of Realignment, welcoming the momentum the legislation provided their rehabilitation focus. Probation departments have opened day reporting centers, expanded the use of risk assessment tools, and worked hard with community partners to establish quality evidence-based programs for offenders. Public defenders are also optimistic but expressed concerns about the longer county jail terms their clients face and the conditions under which they are served. Conversely, prosecuting attorneys generally gave Realignment negative reviews, lamenting their loss of discretion under the law. Judges expressed mixed opinions, although most were concerned about a loss of discretion and said AB 109 had greatly increased the courts’ workload. Law enforcement — both front line police and sheriffs — varied more than any other group in their assessment of Realignment, with their opinions largely influenced by local jail capacity. While most police applauded the spirit of Realignment, including the expansion of local control and treatment options for offenders, all of those interviewed worried about declining public safety. Sheriffs were challenged by overloaded county jails, which in many counties have been strained by a flood of inmates and a tougher criminal population that has increased the likelihood of jail violence. Sheriffs also noted that longer jail stays were challenging their ability to provide adequate medical and mental health care, and that crowding was forcing them to release some offenders early. On the positive end of the spectrum, most stakeholders said Realignment had spawned increased collaboration at all levels of the criminal justice system and a more holistic view of offender management.
Stakeholders recommended several changes to Realignment, suggesting that the Legislature: (1) allow an offender’s entire criminal history to be considered when determining whether the county or the state will supervise a parolee; (2) cap county jail sentences at a maximum of three years; and (3) permit certain repeated technical violations to be punished with a prison sentence. Other top concerns related to jail overcrowding, the lack of a statewide offender database for probationers, the disuse of split sentencing, and a lack of funding for evidence-based programming, particularly for mentally ill offenders.
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Incarceration - CPI Affiliates
|David Harding||Incarceration Research Group Leader; Associate Professor of Sociology||University of California, Berkeley|
|Hilary Hoynes||Safety Net and Incarceration Research Group Leader; Professor of Public Policy and Economics; Haas Distinguished Chair in Economic Disparities||University of California, Berkeley|
|Joan Petersilia||Incarceration Research Group Leader; Adelbert H. Sweet Professor of Law; Faculty Co-Director of Stanford Criminal Justice Center||Stanford Law School|
|Becky Pettit||Professor of Sociology||University of Texas-Austin|
|Bruce Western||Professor of Sociology and Criminal Justice Policy; Director, Malcolm Wiener Center for Social Policy||Harvard University|
Incarceration - Other Research
|Prison Downsizing and Public Safety||Magnus Lofstrom, Steven Raphael||
Prison Downsizing and Public SafetyAuthor: Magnus Lofstrom, Steven Raphael
Publisher: Criminology & Public Policy
Since the mid-1970s, the United States has experienced explosive growth in the incarceration rate and now incarcerates adults at a higher rate than any other country in the world (Raphael and Stoll, 2013). State and local budgets primarily carry the economic burden as most inmates are held in state prisons and local jails. The social costs of incarceration are largely borne by poor and minority households whose members disproportionately experience incarceration directly or indirectly through the incarceration of a family member. Not surprisingly, many states, as well as the federal government, are actively seeking alternative strategies to manage public safety. Recent reforms have put California at the forefront of broad efforts across the country to address the reliance on costly incarceration. California's recent history presents unique opportunities to study large, exogenous changes in incarceration rates.
|Crime, the Criminal Justice System, and Socioeconomic Inequality||Magnus Lofstrom, Steven Raphael||
Crime, the Criminal Justice System, and Socioeconomic InequalityAuthor: Magnus Lofstrom, Steven Raphael
Publisher: Journal of Economic Perspectives
Crime rates in the United States have declined to historical lows since the early 1990s. Prison and jail incarceration rates as well as community correctional populations have increased greatly since the mid-1970s. Both of these developments have disproportionately impacted poor and minority communities. In this paper, we document these trends. We then present an assessment of whether the crime declines can be attributed to the massive expansion of the U.S. criminal justice system. We argue that the crime is certainly lower as results of this expansion and the crime rate in the early 1990s was likely a third lower than what they would have been absent changes in sentencing practices in the 1980s. However, there is little evidence of an impact of the further stiffening of sentences during the 1990s, a period when prison and other correctional populations expanded rapidly. Hence, the growth in criminal justice populations since 1990s have exacerbated socioeconomic inequality in the U.S. without generating much benefit in terms of lower crime rates.
|The Great Recession and State Criminal Justice Policy: Do Economic Hard Times Matter?||Peter K. Enns, Delphia Shanks-Booth||
The Great Recession and State Criminal Justice Policy: Do Economic Hard Times Matter?Author: Peter K. Enns, Delphia Shanks-Booth
Publisher: Russell Sage Foundation
It costs a lot to maintain the world's highest incarceration rate. Did the largest economic shock since the Great Depression influence criminal justice policy and resulting incarcerations?
|Civil Rights Legislation and Legalized Exclusion: Mass Incarceration and the Masking of Inequality||Becky Pettit, Bryan L. Sykes||
Civil Rights Legislation and Legalized Exclusion: Mass Incarceration and the Masking of InequalityAuthor: Becky Pettit, Bryan L. Sykes
Publisher: Sociological Forum
Civil rights legislation in the 1960s promised greater racial equality in a variety of domains including education, economic opportunity, and voting. Yet those same laws were coupled with exclusions from surveys used to gauge their effects thereby affecting both statistical portraits of inequality and our understanding of the impact of civil rights legislation. This article begins with a review of the exclusionary criteria and some tools intended for its evaluation. Civil rights laws were designed at least in part to be assessed through data on the American population collected from samples of individuals living in households, which neglects people who are unstably housed, homeless, or institutionalized. Time series data from surveys of the civilian population and those in prisons and jails show that growth in the American criminal justice system since the early 1970s undermines landmark civil rights acts. As many as 1 in 10 black men age 20–34 are in prison or jail on any given day, and in the post–Great Recession era, young black men who have dropped out of high school are more likely to be incarcerated than working in the paid labor force. Our findings call into question assessments of equal opportunity more than half a century after the enactment of historic legislation meant to redress racial inequities in America.
|Racial Disparities in Incarceration Increase Acceptance of Punitive Policies||Rebecca C. Hetey, Jennifer L. Eberhardt||
Racial Disparities in Incarceration Increase Acceptance of Punitive PoliciesAuthor: Rebecca C. Hetey, Jennifer L. Eberhardt
Publisher: Psychological Science
During the past few decades, punitive crime policies have led to explosive growth in the United States prison population. Such policies have contributed to unprecedented incarceration rates for Blacks in particular. In this article, we consider an unexamined relationship between racial disparities and policy reform. Rather than treating racial disparities as an outcome to be measured, we exposed people to real and extreme racial disparities and observed how this drove their support for harsh criminal-justice policies. In two experiments, we manipulated the racial composition of prisons: When the penal institution was represented as “more Black,” people were more concerned about crime and expressed greater acceptance of punitive policies than when the penal institution was represented as “less Black.” Exposure to extreme racial disparities, then, can lead people to support the very policies that produce those disparities, thus perpetuating a vicious cycle.
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