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Cambridge University Press
Online publication date:
November 2022
Print publication year:
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Book description

The United States imprisons a higher proportion of its population than any other nation. Mass Incarceration Nation offers a novel, in-the-trenches perspective to explain the factors – historical, political, and institutional – that led to the current system of mass imprisonment. The book examines the causes and impacts of mass incarceration on both the political and criminal justice systems. With accessible language and straightforward statistical analysis, former prosecutor turned law professor Jeffrey Bellin provides a formula for reform to return to the low incarceration rates that characterized the United States prior to the 1970s.


‘Bellin has provided a masterful and clear-eyed tour through the history of America's addiction to incarceration, with stories and statistics each step of the way, to illustrate how we got there. There is no better book that dissects what produced mass incarceration and how to disentangle the system that produces so much injustice in the name of justice.'

Brandon Garrett - Professor, Duke Law School Director, Wilson Center for Science and Justice, Author of Convicting the Innocent and Autopsy of a Crime Lab

‘In this nuanced account, Bellin uses an impressive array of data and history to explain the rise mass incarceration. It is a must read for anyone who seeks to understand why America has dramatically increased the number of people in prison and anyone who wants to reverse that trend while promoting public safety.'

Carissa Hessick - Professor, University of North Carolina Law School, Author of Punishment without Trial: Why Plea Bargaining Is a Bad Deal

‘Bellin provides the definitive account for why the United States has such a high incarceration rate, and he forcefully argues how we can fix our mass incarceration problem.'

Shon Hopwood - Associate Professor, Georgetown Law School Author of Law Man: My Story of Robbing Banks, Winning Supreme Court Cases, and Finding Redemption

‘… a highly informative and balanced book, offering a wide-ranging scope on the causes of mass incarceration and proposing practical solutions to reduce the prison population. … this book is an essential read for several audiences, including educators, policymakers, and novice readers - one that is unfamiliar with the phenomenon - because it strategically combines scholarly rigor with anecdotes and modern examples.’

Gabriela Perez Source: Criminal Justice Review

‘This book is a solid introduction for anyone wanting to see the big picture about mass incarceration and deserves to be widely read. It combines valuable statistics with common sense arguments to lay out a comprehensive account of this complex process. Despite its nuance and academic structure, the work is accessible and written in clear language, which makes it as useful for law students and stakeholders in the criminal system as it is interesting for the lay reader.’

Source: Jotwell

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