produce. To the extent that evidence is conflicting or suggests a range of possible effects, alternative sets of assumptions will show a range of likely results of alternative policies.


The remainder of this report is organized around the major sets of questions posed in the committee’s charge. Chapter 2 provides an overview of the rise in the incarceration rate since the early 1970s, its components, and accompanying changes in society. Chapters 3 and 4 explore evidence regarding the complex set of factors contributing directly and indirectly to the high rate of incarceration in the United States. Chapters 5 through 11 examine evidence regarding the impacts of the rise in incarceration on crime (Chapter 5); the nature of the experience of prison for those incarcerated (Chapter 6); the effects of incarceration on prisoners’ health and mental health (Chapter 7) and employment and earnings after release (Chapter 8); the effects on children and families (Chapter 9) and on the communities from which prisoners come and to which they return (Chapter 10); and wider consequences for U.S. society (Chapter 11). Chapter 12 reviews the principles and values that determine the proper role of prisons in society and traces their intellectual lineage including the modern application of these foundational concepts. Chapter 13 summarizes the implications of the evidence on causes and consequences for public policy, applies the guidance provided by the principles that constrain the use of incarceration, and presents the committee’s findings and recommendations for policy makers and the public. This final chapter also presents our recommendations for research to address gaps in knowledge on many questions pertinent to the policy choices facing leaders and the public. A more detailed research agenda is provided in Appendix C.

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