Celia Chazelle is chair of the History Department at The College of New Jersey, a co-founder and co-director of its Center for Prison Outreach and Education, and also co-editor of a forthcoming book, Why the Middle Ages Matter: Medieval Light on Modern Injustice.
Articles by this author
Wednesday, March 30, 2011
How to Waste Money and Lives: The American Prison System
In 1970, fewer than 200,000 Americans were incarcerated. Today, with some 2.3 million in prison or jail, the US has more people and a higher percentage of its population locked up than any other country. Adding those on probation and parole, over seven million are under penal supervision. Although much of the growth stems from tougher drug laws, increased sentencing for most offenses has played a large role, too. According to criminologist Todd Clear, prison sentences in the US today average almost twice as long as thirty years ago.