The nightly news of the last two years has been filled with stories of racism on college campuses, police shootings of black men, prison sentence reform, and the possibility of early release for nonviolent criminals. President Obama became the first president in history to visit a federal penitentiary when he went to the El Reno Federal Correctional Institution in Oklahoma in July of 2015. He spoke at Rutgers University in Newark on November 2, 2015, arguing for the elimination of the question on job applications on whether someone has a felony record. This is the context in which mass incarceration has recently become a prominent issue.
The rise of mass incarceration and the imprisoning of poor minorities from cities has been increasing in the United States since the 1980s. Only recently has it become an issue that has been publicized and covered by the national media. Mass incarceration has done irreparable damage to individuals, families, and communities, but the large financial costs may have been what has brought it to the forefront of national politics. Politicians have the pressure of paying for the construction, maintenance, and surveillance of an enormous prison population and they also have the outrage of the minority communities that bear the brunt of these policies.
Mass incarceration is a phenomena that has accelerated over the last 35 years with a growth over that time has been staggering; it reaches beyond anything else in the past. The US has 5% of the world 's population and yet, it has 20% of the world 's prisoners. There are 2.3 million people in jail, 850,000 are on parole and 3.2 million are on probation in the United States. The system has an incredible number of people within its scope and ...
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...licies. One group is fined and penalized while the other group receives government benefits, tax breaks, jobs, careers, and investment opportunities as a direct result of the War on Drugs and mass incarceration.
This paper looks to fill an important gap in the study of mass incarceration. There has been a significant amount of research on the way that these three groups are penalized but there have not been any studies that have looked at the complete economic picture of those who are subjected to the consequences of mass incarceration. In preparation for this research paper, dozens of articles of been read and hundreds of abstracts previewed; none have attempted to look at the total economic impact of the war on drugs and the economic cost to individuals, their children, and their families and the benefits that flow to other Americans as a result of these policies.
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