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September 19 , 2008

Addicted to Incarceration

Corrections Policy and the Politics of Misinformation in the United States


In Addicted to Incarceration, author Travis Pratt uses an evidence-based approach to explore the consequences of what he terms America's "addiction to incarceration," highlighting the scope of the problem, the nature of the political discussions surrounding criminal justice policy in general and corrections policy in particular, and the social cost of incarceration.

Pratt demonstrates that the United States' addiction to incarceration has been fueled by American citizens' opinions about crime and punishment, the effectiveness of incarceration as a means of social control, and perhaps most important, by policies legitimized by faulty information (e.g.,fear of crime is objectively linked to victimization, petty offenders mature into violent predators, and persistent offending can be accurately predicted over the life course). Analyzing crime policies as they relate to crime rates and U.S. society's ability to both lower the crime rate and address the role of incarceration in preventing future crime, the book shows students how ineffective our rush to incarcerate has been in the last decade, as well as offering recommendations and insights into the future of this problem.


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  • Real world examples that put a human face on the issues open each chapter
  • Race, ethnicity, and gender issues underlie all discussions and address key aspects of incarceration rates and crime trends
  • The social costs of incarceration are explored, including the heightened inmate risk of personal victimization, incarceration's effect as a barrier to successful offender reintegration into society, and its role in exacerbating existing racial inequalities
  • The final chapter contains conclusions and recommendations for future policy makers

Written in an informal and accessible style, Addicted to Incarceration is appropriate for criminal justice policy or corrections courses at the undergraduate level and can also be used as a supplementary text in introductory criminal justice, criminology, and critical issues in criminal justice courses.

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