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American Prisons in a Time of Crisis (From American Prison: Issues in Research and Policy, P 13-22, 1989, Lynne Goodstein and Doris Layton MacKenzie, eds. -- See NCJ-120304)

NCJ Number
A Blumstein
Date Published
10 pages
This chapter identifies factors that have contributed to the prison-population increase from 1973 through 1987 and discusses future prospects and policy implications of the trends.
American prison populations have grown dramatically in the last two decades largely as a result of the confluence of important demographic shifts associated with the postwar "baby boom" and significant political shifts that have politicized decisions about who should go to prison and for how long. Overall, sanction severity has increased under the political trends. Although there may be some diminution of the demographic shift during the 1990's as the "baby bust" of the late 1960's and 1970's is in the high-incarceration ages, continued politicization of sanction severity seems likely. The arrival into the high-incarceration ages of the "echo boom" generation, with a much larger proportion of its population in lower socioeconomic conditions, makes it likely that -- absent other significant changes in either involvement in crime or in sanction policies -- there will be major new pressures on prison populations in the early years of the next century. 7 references.


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