Mass Incarceration In The Criminal Justice System

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INTRODUCTION The United States criminal justice system has witnessed many drastic changes over the last 40 years, especially in terms of punishment. The rates of incarceration in the U.S. have increased ten-fold since the 1970s when the U.S. began to rely on incapacitation as the primary means of dealing with crime, establishing a system of punishment focused on incarcerating those violate the law at rapid (and alarming) rates while favoring a strong, law-and-order approach to crime. The issue in this system stems from the fabrication in the fear of crime by politicians, the media, and even scholarly literature in the 1960s, which initially helped lead to this corrections approach. In the 1960s, many civil and social changes were taking place…show more content…
In response to the changes, some politicians began to focus on crime and tougher law-and-order policies while the American public was more focused on the Vietnam War and the Civil Rights Movement. Despite these more urgent concerns, Richard Nixon successfully launched a get tough on crime platform that funneled in mandatory guidelines, discretionary guidelines, determinate sentencing, and mandatory minimums. These tougher policies made way for a new market in the privatization of prisons as prison populations soared, which has exacerbated a criminal justice system that promotes mass incarceration and commodification at the expense of the prisoners. The U.S. has been hanging onto these ideals since the 1960s, which allowed the public and private prison system to carve out a high stake in how the criminal justice system runs; as a result, dissention asserting that mass incarceration is not in the best interests of lowering crime rates…show more content…
On the general level, incapacitation theory demands the criminal justice system imprison all offenders. Selective incapacitation aims to imprison high-rate offenders in particular (MacKenzie 2012:9). Incapacitation is a utilitarian theory because it seeks to reduce crime by incarcerating offenders. The pain or suffering imposed on an offender through punishment is thus justified because it aims to prevent and reduce further harm to the rest of the society from any future crimes of an offender (MacKenzie 2012:9). This theory aims to achieve an incapacitation effect, which accounts for the amount of crime that does not occur by taking an offender away from the community and putting them into prison (MacKenzie 2012:9). Punishment in the incapacitation context is justified by the risk individuals are believed to pose to society, and so incapacitation aims to shape correctional policy to prevent future crimes (Banks 2013:117). Offenders who commit crimes at high rates are often termed “career criminals” (Banks 2013:117-118). Incapacitation aims to apply correctional policies that will target career criminals and lead to crime prevention (Banks 2013:117-118). As a result, a convicted offender can be subject to long periods of being in the correctional system’s custody based off their possible future conduct (Banks 2013:118). For instance, a convicted offender might be given a longer prison sentence or be

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