Sunday, April 8, 2012

Scholars to study the “high rates of incarceration”

Former Pennsylvania Secretary of Corrections Jeffrey Beard will join seventeen of the country’s leading scholars and experts on corrections and related fields to launch a major project to study the “causes and consequences of high rates of incarceration” in the United States, according to The Crime Report.

The panel of scholars, chaired by Jeremy Travis, president of John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York, will examine the reasons for the dramatic increases in U.S. incarceration rates since the 1970s, which have produced one of the world’s highest incarceration levels—with more than 2.3 million people behind bars in U.S. prisons and jails at any time.

Project funding is split between the National Institute of Justice—the Department of Justice research arm that Travis formerly headed—and the Chicago-based John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

According to The Crime Report, the group will examine a wide range of issues related to U.S. corrections, including the costs and benefits of current sentencing and incarceration policies, and it will explore any evidence that “alternative punishments might achieve similar public safety benefits and lower financial and social costs,” according to the official announcement of the project.

The panel will also assess existing research on incarceration, identify research gaps and offer policy recommendations.

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