The growth of incarceration rates in the United States have reached unprecedented levels since the 1970s giving rise to a broad range of commentary regarding its possible causes. Of equal importance are the consequences for those individuals imprisoned, their families, the wider communities and ultimately the implications for US society. In this episode we examine the main causes and consequences of high rates of incarceration in the United States. But more importantly, the transformation of the US criminal justice system, characterized by punitive policies and practices.
However the rise of mass incarceration did not occur by accident. Instead it was spearheaded by new policy framework from the US justice system and political elites. This unique path was designed solely to ratchet up criminal justice sanctions and has disproportionately targeted poor and minority communities across the US. Ultimately rehabilitation has been abandoned in favour of deterrence and mass incarceration.