The last four decades have seen an exponential increase in the United States prison population. The rise of mass incarceration has created a prison “industry” whose incentives now shape criminal justice policy. This reading group will explore the roles and interests of a variety of stakeholders in the criminal justice system – including department of corrections leaders, local sheriffs, prison guards, private prison executives, and prosecutors – whose decisions affect the future trajectory of the prison population. We will examine recent reform efforts and reactions of criminal justice actors, paying special attention to regional and other differences that challenge conceptions of the prison industry as monolithic. We will also consider a broader, comparative frame, situating U.S. prisons in a global context. Readings will include case law, social science literature, and comparative law texts.
Note: The reading group will meet on the following dates: 2/12, 2/26, 3/5, 3/26, 4/9 & 4/16.