Locked In: The True Causes of Mass Incarceration and How to Achieve Real Reform

Locked In

By John Plaff. Investigates the root causes of mass incarceration, arguing that the most widely accepted explanations — the failed War on Drugs, draconian sentencing laws, an increasing reliance on private prisons — tell us much less than we think. Looks at other factors instead, including a major shift in prosecutor behavior that occurred in the mid-1990s, when prosecutors began bringing felony charges against arrestees about twice as often as they had before. Describes a fractured criminal justice system, in which counties don’t pay for the people they send to state prisons, and in which white suburbs set law and order agendas for more-heavily minority cities and shows that if we hope to significantly reduce prison populations, we have no choice but to think differently about how to deal with people convicted of violent crimes and why some people are violent in the first place. Read more.