Mass Incarceration: Overview of Its Effects on Black and Brown Individuals, with Policy Recommendations Using Family Engagement to Address Recidivism

Washington, Durrell Malik

Black and brown men are negatively impacted by the criminal justice system and have been incarcerated at higher rates than any other group in the United States (Knafo, 2013). The United States criminal justice system is built on punishment and exploitation rather than rehabilitation, resulting in higher rates of incarceration and recidivism compared to other developed nations (Gilligan, 2012). Countries such as Norway and the United Kingdom take a more humane approach to their criminal justice system, resulting in low recidivism rates (Sterbenz, 2014). Implementing policies that aim to keep families connected with individuals who are incarcerated is a major way to reduce recidivism rates (Clarke, 2013). Using New York State as a case study, this paper will propose extending conjugal visits beyond medium and low-security prisons and implementing Skype technology in prisons and jails as policy solutions to promote the well-being of people who are incarcerated and keep them from returning to prison once they are released. Social workers can play a vital role in efforts made to shift the United States’ criminal justice system from a culture of punishment towards a restorative model.

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Columbia Social Work Review

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Social Work
Published Here
February 20, 2019