Thursday, July 24, 2014 
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The Growth of Incarceration in the United States
Exploring Causes and Consequences
Released on April 30

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main findings


After decades of stability, the United States saw its incarceration rate more than quadruple in the past 40 years. Currently, nearly 1 out of 100 American adults is in prison or jail. What drove this increase, and how has it affected crime rates, individuals, families, communities, and society at large?

The Growth of Incarceration in the United States finds that the dramatic increase in incarceration has failed to clearly yield large crime-reduction benefits for the nation. In addition, the growth in incarceration may have had a wide range of unwanted consequences for individuals, families, communities, and society. The report recommends that policymakers take steps to reduce the nation’s reliance on incarceration.

To learn more about the rise of incarceration in the U.S. and its consequences:

More information about the Committee on the Causes and Consequences of High Rates of Incarceration

Holder Cites Findings of Report

Holder SpeechL
On May 8, at a symposium of the National Association of Attorneys General, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder discussed the report. Holder called it a "landmark study" that brings into sharp focus the importance of efforts to make the criminal justice system more efficient and effective.

Video Clip | Full Speech

Media Coverage

End Mass Incarceration Now
New York Times Op-Ed (May 24, 2014)

Report: US prison rates an ‘injustice’

BBC News (May 2, 2014)

How a national spike in incarcerations affects crime, cost and communities
PBS NewsHour (May 1, 2014)

The meteoric, costly and unprecedented rise of incarceration in America
Washington Post (April 30, 2014)


Related Report

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Read the workshop highlight
 The increasing numbers entering and exiting U.S. prisons and jails raise questions about the adequacy of healthcare available for them, particularly given the prevalence of drug and alcohol addictions, chronic diseases, and mental illness in the incarcerated population.

Questions include the effects of incarceration itself on health, the particular vulnerabilities of people who are incarcerated, the quality and accessibility of healthcare before, during, and following incarceration, and the consequences for both the individuals and the public health in their communities when they are released. One increasingly prominent set of issues concerns capitalizing on opportunities to improve care and screening for a population with a high burden of diseases.

Health and Incarceration: A Workshop Summary provides perspective on an important set of policy issues. Undertaken in conjunction with a major study of the causes and consequences of high rates of incarceration in the United States, it is a valuable compendium of expert insights and policy ideas for health professionals and policy makers working on these issues.

The workshop was organized by the Committee on Law and Justice and the Institute of Medicine’s Board on Health of Select Populations as a way to address the charge to the Committee on the Causes and Consequences of High Rates of Incarceration funded by the National Institute of Justice and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

The report was prepared with a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

More information about the Committee on the Causes and Consequences of High Rates of Incarceration




The National Academies