Provost, Rutgers University School Of Criminal Justice
- Reducing mass incarceration will be achieved by eliminating mandatory sentences, adjusting parole and probation, and shortening the length of incarceration.
In the review, “Reducing Mass Incarceration: Implications of the Iron Law of Prison Populations,” Clear and his co-author examine how to reduce mass incarceration by understanding the three major topics in justice reform. These topics include: 1) whether the drop in the crime rate is due to the large number in individuals incarcerated 2) the unintended consequences of imprisonment and 3) strategies in literature for reducing incarceration. To address the first topic, the authors explain that the size of the prison population is largely unrelated to the cycles of crime since when one person is removed from the chain, it is likely another person will step in. For the next point the authors cite previous studies, which have shown that increasing time spent in incarceration does not impact recidivism rates. When considering what types of reform are needed, after concluding less time in prison does not increase the risk of recidivism, the authors consider the unintended consequences of reform programs as rehabilitation and punishment are not opposing forces. Rehabilitation programs significantly decrease recidivism and support the reentry process by ensuring a place in the community but not in the ways needed to drastically reform mass incarceration. The authors suggest that reducing mass incarceration will be achieved by eliminating mandatory sentences, adjusting parole and probation, and shortening the length of incarceration. The authors note that major changes need to be made at the policy level and in the penal system to effectively end the cycles of mass incarceration. To do so, they conclude less individuals should be incarcerated, and if they are incarcerated, it should be for a shorter period of time.