Downsizing Prisons: How to Reduce Crime and End Mass Incarceration

Overview

Over Two Million People are incarcerated in America's prisons and jails, eight times as many since 1975. The U.S. now locks up a higher percentage of its population than any other country in the world. At current incarceration rates, almost one in three black males born in the U.S. today will spend some time in prison. Mandatory minimum sentencing, parole agencies intent on sending people back to prison, three-strike laws, for-profit prisons, and other changes in the legal system have contributed to this ...
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Downsizing Prisons: How to Reduce Crime and End Mass Incarceration

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Overview

Over Two Million People are incarcerated in America's prisons and jails, eight times as many since 1975. The U.S. now locks up a higher percentage of its population than any other country in the world. At current incarceration rates, almost one in three black males born in the U.S. today will spend some time in prison. Mandatory minimum sentencing, parole agencies intent on sending people back to prison, three-strike laws, for-profit prisons, and other changes in the legal system have contributed to this spectacular rise in the nation's prison population. A rise that seems to have no end in sight.

After overseeing New York City's jail system, the largest in the country, Michael Jacobson knows first-hand the inner workings of the corrections system. In Downsizing Prisons, he convincingly argues that mass incarceration will not, as many have claimed, reduce crime nor create more public safety. Simply put, throwing away the key is not the answer.

Instead, Jacobson argues that our prison system needs a massive overhaul. Moreover, given the dire budget shortfalls facing most states, there really is no choice: we no longer have the revenue to continue prison expansion while simultaneously supporting education, health care, and lower taxes.

Downsizing Prisons examines specific ways that states have begun to transform their prison systems, in particular he focuses on the reforms underway in New York, Louisiana, Connecticut, and California. Jacobson offers practical policy solutions and strategies, such as: changing how parole and probation agencies operate, significantly reducing punitive sentencing and "technical" parole violations, and supporting drug-treatment programs for low-level drug offenders. These policy changes can actually increase public safety as well as save money.

As our prison populations swell to record levels, it is clear that the time to reform our prison system has come. Downsizing Prisons offers a clear and persuasive plan of action.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
The United States locks up more of its population than any other country in the world. There are over two million people incarcerated in U.S. prisons and jails-eight times the rate in 1975. This increase can be greatly attributed to sentences for nonviolent drug and property offenses, which skyrocketed during the 1990s. Jacobson (criminology, John Jay Coll.) argues for changes in parole and probation agency operations, reductions in punitive sentencing, and the creation of drug treatment programs in lieu of prison sentences for low-level drug offenders. The premise here is to show how "the tremendous growth of incarceration over the past few decades relates directly to this country's present difficulties in adequately funding its education and healthcare systems." Jacobson does an adequate job defending his belief that incarceration is not the only sentencing alternative. Recommended for specialized collections in criminal justice.-Tim Delaney, SUNY at Oswego Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
From the Publisher

“There is a better path, and this book shows us how to find that new direction.”
-Los Angeles Times

,

Downsizing Prisons offers an innovative approach to reducing the strain on America’s overcrowded prisons: namely, by fixing the dysfunctional parole systems in states around the country. . . . Jacobson’s book comes at exactly the right time.”
-Mother Jones

,

“Policy wonks, journalists, elected officials and students of criminal justice will find the arguments and data in this book worth grappling with.”
-New York Newsday

,

“Should be read by the public and used by policy makers. Essential.”
-Choice

,

Downsizing Prisons explains not only why current incarceration policy is not working, but what we can do about it. Jacobson’s blueprint provides an overview of a pragmatic strategy that can reduce the size of our bloated prison system while improving prospects for public safety.”
-Marc Mauer,author of Race to Incarcerate

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780814742747
  • Publisher: New York University Press
  • Publication date: 2/1/2005
  • Pages: 292
  • Sales rank: 1,441,759
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Michael Jacobson has over twenty years of government service. He was formerly the commissioner of the New York City Departments of Correction and Probation and a deputy budget director for the City of New York, serving in the Koch, Dinkins, and Giuliani administrations. He is currently the Executive Director of the Vera Institute of Justice.

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Table of Contents

Introduction : bloated prisons 8
1 Mass incarceration 18
2 Unintended consequences 42
3 A new reality for prison systems 78
4 Why prison growth does not substantially reduce crime 106
5 Why parole and probation policies need to change 131
6 Success stories and works in progress 173
7 Downsizing prisons 215
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  • Posted December 20, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Great Book

    Author Michael Jacobson's book Downsizing prisons highlights crucial aspects of mass incarceration in the United States prison system. Jacobson states there are no social movements on a national level which would improve penal policy. Jacobson passion of decreasing mass incarceration is shadowed throughout the book. This book provides Pertinent information for anyone in the criminal justice field. This book is a must read on all levels.

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