Race and Mass Incarceration in the United States
The late 20th century saw a dramatic shift in the criminal justice system of the United States. While incarceration rates had remained stable through the 1960s, they quintupled by the 2000s to 707 per 100,000, far exceeding that of all other nations in the world. By 2020, nearly 2.3 million individuals were locked up in U.S. prisons, jails, and detention centers. Of these, 60% were Black or Latinx. Why the mass incarceration, and why such disparities by race? Were they responses to recent political and economic shifts, or part of a deeper social and cultural history? And what could be done to address what was now widely recognized by policymakers as a crisis of the criminal justice system in the United States?