The Growth of Incarceration in the United States – Causes, Consequences, and Proposed Reforms

Vesla M. Weaver, Johns Hopkins University, Bruce Western, Harvard University, Christopher Wildeman, Cornell University

With Bruce Western as Vice Chair, a National Academy of Sciences committee sums up research on the causes and harmful effects of America's over-reliance on imprisonment – and recommends reforms in sentencing, prison practices, and social programs for ex-prisoners and their families.

An April 30 news release announced the publication of The Growth of Incarceration in the United States: Exploring Causes and Consequences. SSN member Bruce Western of Harvard University served as Vice Chair of the Academy committee that produced this 444 page report, and SSN member Glen Loury of Brown University was one of the members. Research by many SSN members was used and cited throughout the report.

> Read Bruce Western's SSN Key Findings brief summarizing the major findings and recommendations of the National Academy committee.

On May 28, the Scholars Strategy Network and the American Academy of Political and Social Science collaborated with the Congressional Black Caucus and the Honorable Representative Robert C. “Bobby” Scott of Virginia to conduct a briefing on The Collateral Consequences of Mass Incarceration: How Imprisonment and Punishment Have Changed America and How Policy Should Respond. Speakers at this event included SSN members Bruce Western of Harvard University and Christopher Wildeman of Yale University.

SSN's Working Group on Criminal Justice, chaired by Vesla Weaver and Christopher Wildman, recently assembled research briefs for a spotlight on "Mass Incarceration and American Democracy." Members of this group have produced dozens of research briefs and many OpEds and other media contributions highlighting the social and political consequences of America's overreliance on incarceration and harsh criminal justice policies and suggesting better policies for American communities and states to institute.

May 2014