Alex Resney

Publication Date



racial inequality, public policy, poverty, mental health




In both per capita and absolute terms, the United States criminal justice system is the largest in the world, housing almost 2.3 million people. Some of the challenges facing this system are policies regarding drug offenses that date back to the war on Drugs, a lack of rehabilitation of convicts, and the ·tough on crime· narrative that dominates American media. This mass incarceration impacts society at all levels, from the community to the individual. It places an economic burden on the American public, affects the health and wellbeing of the families of incarcerated individuals, leaves those in the criminal justice system with a litany of physical and mental health issues, and contributes to the disenfranchisement of formerly incarcerated individuals. Additionally, there are a disproportionate number of people of color in the criminal justice system further exacerbating racial inequality. Leading practices for mass incarceration include reforming current policies (specifically those relevant to drug offenses). offering assistance when reentering society, juvenile therapy, and an alternative prison sentence that offers growth and rehabilitation opportunities.