• Mass incarceration: the juggernaut of American penal expansionism

      Teague, Michael; University of Derby (Centre for Crime and Justice Studies, 2016-09)
      A plethora of evidence confirms that America continues to lead the world in imprisonment. No serious commentator doubts mass incarceration is a major issue for the nation. The America penal industrial complex incarcerates close to a quarter of all the prisoners on the planet. The American rate of incarceration remains stubbornly locked at a substantially higher level than those of comparable parliamentary democracies. There is no doubt that America’s penal institutions contain some individuals who pose a substantial public risk. However, there is significant scope to limit incarceration for a range of offenders, including those convicted of drug offences. There is a recognition the decades-long ‘War on Drugs’ has ultimately been counterproductive. At the end of 2014, some six years into Obama’s presidency, the USA’s total incarcerated population included some 2,306,100 prisoners It is only now that the United States may be witnessing the end of an ill-starred forty year experiment with mass incarceration and that American penal expansionism has finally begun to ease. The overall picture is of a pause, and even a slight reverse, in the race to incarcerate.