Incarceration Nation: Why Is This Happening? What’s To Be Done?

incarceration in our nationIncarceration Nation: Why Is This Happening? What’s To Be Done?

Sociologists are increasingly concerned with with the size and composition of the U.S. prison population which has continued to grow to historically unprecedented levels, globally speaking. As members of a democratic society, these trends should be of concern to us all and a social problem that needs to be openly discussed. In this week’s second conference I want you to read and analyze data from a several reports that will give you an empirical basis for understanding U.S. imprisonment trends.

What You Should Do

Read Chapter 6 from your textbook in its entirety, taking careful notes as you do.

Click on and read through each of the following reports. The Pew Charitable Trust’s report titled “Pew Prison Count 2010” ( The short report contains some fascinating charts, tables and text that complement the “Prison Problem” section of your textbook. While the U.S. prison populations in some states have dropped somewhat over the four year period between 2008-2012 (, as of 2013 the U.S. still has the largest prisoner population in the world both in absolute terms and when viewed as a rate (

Write a series of substantial, edited paragraphs in which you react to the dimensions of the report. Whatever aspects of the data and analysis you focus are up to you. However, in doing so, I want you to make sure that at a minimum you address the following questions. First, why do you think that the prison population trends have occurred? Second, what do you think can be done to alleviate the situation to reduce recidivism and ultimately the future size of the U.S. prison population?

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