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In America, there has been a great increase in the prison population. As Bellin pointed out in the article, the first major increase in the prison population is from the increase in homicides as well as the “tough on crime policies”. The increase in prison growth due to this is just absolutely absurd. Not only is this inhuman to just lock all these people in these cages, but in my opinion just utterly wrong. Not only is this detrimental to one’s mental health, but this now also affects their social abilities and just their all-around way of living life. Now I am not saying that people need to face the consequences of their actions, because I do think that when you break the law or willingly commit crimes you are obviously going to have to face the consequences. I feel that the increase in crime rates, especially on drug usage, is now causing a bigger issue than it has been before. I believe that the only reason drug-related crimes have now increased in prisons is because of the tough-on-crime policies. The more you tell someone they aren’t allowed to do something, the more they will find a way to do it. Due to this, the drug-related crimes increased throughout prisons and jails, which then also increased tremendously when it was repeat offenders. When Bellin mentions the two main purposes for incarceration rather than just for policy control, that now the longer sentences are to seek justice for victims and attempt to alter people's behavior. We need to change the policies of criminal sentencing, especially for significant violent crimes, to require sentences that adhere to historical norms. And second, fighting the nation's growing tendency to use jail as a tool to further its political objectives.


There are many people getting incarcerated nowadays. Many prisons in the US are getting filled daily for drug charges, domestic charges and misc charges. People are always committing crimes. These people could have the same reoccurring charges and never learn their lesson. In my opinion, I think that they should send people to prison for the reoccurring offenses that they occur. Prisons will start having lower rates if people would learn from their mistakes they make in the world.


The United States has seen a dramatic rise in its incarceration rates over the past few decades, with the imprisonment rate increasing from about 150 people per 100,000 in 1980 to more than 700 people per 100,000 in 2020. This sharp increase has been accompanied by a decrease in the overall crime rate, leading some to question the relationship between crime and incarceration in the United States.

In an effort to better understand the roots of mass incarceration, Jeffrey Bellin, a professor of law at the College of William & Mary, has conducted extensive research on the topic. In his work, Bellin argues that the increase in incarceration rates is not necessarily due to a corresponding increase in crime. Instead, Bellin suggests that the growth of incarceration is largely due to the increased use of mandatory sentencing laws, which require judges to impose fixed prison sentences for certain offenses.

In addition, Bellin points out that, in many cases, the increased incarceration rate is driven by the enforcement of laws that disproportionately target low-income and minority communities. This is especially true for drug offenses, which account for a significant portion of the nation’s prison population.

Finally, Bellin argues that the increased incarceration rate has had a significant impact on the criminal justice system, leading to overcrowded prisons, overworked court systems, and limited resources for rehabilitation and reentry. As a result, there is an urgent need for reform in order to reduce the nation’s incarceration rate and create a more equitable criminal justice system.

In conclusion, while the crime rate has declined in the United States, the incarceration rate has continued to rise due to factors such as mandatory sentencing laws and the targeting of low-income and minority communities. Jeffrey Bellin’s research provides valuable insight into the roots of mass incarceration, and his findings suggest that reform is needed in order to reduce the nation’s incarceration rate and create a more equitable criminal justice system.


Reading the article, it was very informative on the history of the United States’ infamous mass incarceration problem. For some time, I’ve known that the U.S. had issues with mass incarcerating people compared to other developed countries. The beginning of mass incarceration began because there was a huge growth in homicides from the 1960s to the 1970s, which led to laws on harsher punishments and a “tough on crime” mentality throughout the criminal justice system. I believe that this is justified because it is illogical for our criminal justice system to do nothing if we have evidence of violent crime statistics shooting up. It was appropriate for the people at that time to respond like they did to criminals. I disagree with the fact that they kept these harsher sentences even when the crime statistics went down in the following years. According to the author, our country uses incarceration for two purposes, which is to obtain justice on behalf of victims and to try to change people’s behavior. I completely agree that we should use our resources in order to find justice for victims and help rehabilitate prisoners. Sometimes we do achieve our goal of giving justice to victims but for the majority of the time, our system does not know how to rehabilitate prisoners correctly. When prisoners leave, they are given nothing in order to help them return to society and if they are a felon, when they apply for a job, they have to tell their employers that they are a felon and will most likely not receive the job. Our system sets up the formerly incarcerated for failure and sometimes leads them to a life of crime again because it is the easiest way they can support themselves since they have the skills and experience for that. The author proposes that in order to reduce the incarcerated population, our system has to return sentence lengths for all offenses to their original historical lengths and prevent the country from using incarceration as a tool for achieving policy goals. I agree with the author’s first proposal because current crime statistics are finally going down but we should not be afraid to return them to higher sentences in case the crime statistics do rise again. I also agree with the author’s second proposal because we need to move on from the previous “tough on crime” mentality since our crime statistics are slowly going down. Politicians need to campaign that they will use the resources at their disposal in order to help educate people in order to prevent future incarcerations and help rehabilitate current prisoners in order to prepare them for reentry into society. This would benefit our criminal justice system since it would increase the population’s trust in the system.

Daniela Guevara

I agree with the author's viewpoint that comprehending the growth of the U.S. incarceration rate is crucial to finding practical solutions for reducing it. The reasons behind the escalating prison population, such as the surge in crime, longer sentences for repeat and violent offenses, and the practice of detaining individuals beyond the time they would have been released in other countries, need to be thoroughly understood in order to address the issue effectively. One significant factor contributing to the mounting incarceration rate is the shift in the types of crimes that lead people to prison. Since the 1970s, there has been a substantial increase in the number of individuals being incarcerated for drug-related offenses and other crimes that were previously unlikely to result in prison time. Instances of drug sales, drug possession, and gun possession cases have risen dramatically. Surprisingly, while the incarceration rate for homicide grew by 300% between 1980 and 2010, other offenses like drug crimes experienced an astonishing surge of 1,147%. The COVID-19 pandemic has further highlighted the need to reevaluate our incarceration approach. In an effort to alleviate overcrowding and mitigate health risks, some prisoners were released. Showing that it is crucial to strike a balance between using incarceration as a means to achieve justice for victims and attempting to reform individuals' behavior. To reduce the current incarceration rates, it is imperative to reassess the length of sentences and revert to historical norms. Over-reliance on incarceration as a tool to accomplish policy goals has proven to be ineffective and counterproductive. Instead, we should explore alternative approaches emphasizing rehabilitation, education, and community-based solutions. By adopting a more balanced and comprehensive strategy, we can pave the way for a criminal justice system that focuses on addressing the root causes of crime and creating a safer and more just society.

M. Nelson

The article "Mass Incarceration Nation" provides an essential perspective on the evolution of incarceration in the United States. As educators, we often strive to create informed, critical thinkers who can analyze and understand societal trends. This piece offers vital context on a critical issue that our students may eventually grapple with either personally or in their future careers.

By exposing students to this information, we help them develop a nuanced understanding of a complex societal issue. The article doesn't only present raw statistics but takes a deep dive into the policies, societal responses, and types of crimes that have led to the current state of mass incarceration.

C. Henry-Davis

It's quite alarming to see the statistics presented by Mr Bellin. Indeed, the United States incarceration rate is extremely high. I do agree that when a crime is committed, one has to take responsibility for their actions. Once you break the law, you must pay the penalty, which is prison or jail time. What I don't agree with is the number of cases that are there without proper representation. Also, I believe that race has a lot to do with the increase in prison time. Refefromation will decrease the mass incarceration crisis.


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