Provost, Rutgers University School Of Criminal Justice
- Meaningful changes in reducing mass incarceration can only occur with shorter prison sentences for violent offenders and can be done without sacrificing public safety concerns.
In the article, “Mass Incarceration,” Clear and his co-author examine criminal justice reform and the issue of mass incarceration. The authors examine strategies used to reduce recidivism that are effective on a large scale. The researchers argue that the changes required to solve mass incarceration need to be rapid and meaningful. They also note that these changes will likely have a positive impact socially, economically, and in terms of social justice, may require slight decreases in public safety. The researchers used data from the National Corrections Reporting program from the Bureau of Justice Studies to promote their stance on reducing mass incarceration. A quarter of the cases directed to prison involved violent crime and generally subjected to mandatory prison terms while the remaining majority (66%) were considered, ‘not serious,” but still subject to certain sentencing rules. The authors propose that individuals in community supervision are the best candidates to decrease the number of incarcerated. This is because of their ability to change policy terms to break the pattern of being re-entered into the programs designed to reduce recidivism. Another main point the authors make to reduce incarceration is by decreasing the length of time individuals serve in prison. There is an indication that the length of a prison sentence does not equal time served as many offenders have the opportunity for parole. The researchers conclude that meaningful changes in reducing mass incarceration can only occur with shorter prison sentences for violent offenders and can be done without sacrificing public safety concerns.