A global perspective on incarceration: How an international focus can help the United States reconsider its incarceration rates

Douglas B. Weiss, Doris L. Mackenzie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations

Abstract

The disproportionate number of people incarcerated is one exceptional feature of criminal justice in the United States. Comparisons among the United States and other Western democracies on several social, political, and economic factors fail to provide a justification for the high incarceration rates in the United States. The more than 2.3 million people incarcerated in this nation largely reflect policy choices that have been made at all levels of government in the United States. While these policy choices have created unprecedented imprisonment rates, abnormally large incarceration rates are not entirely unknown in other nations. In the 1950s, Finland had an incarceration rate more than three times greater than that of its Nordic neighbors. More than 50 years later, Finland was able to reduce its use of incarceration to a rate comparable to its neighbors. Germany is another country that has worked to reduce its reliance on incarceration. A focus on how other Western democracies have reduced their incarceration rates can provide the United States with blueprints for how effective crime control can be achieved without a heavy reliance on incarceration.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)268-282
Number of pages15
JournalVictims and Offenders
Volume5
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 2010

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Health(social science)
  • Applied Psychology
  • Law

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