Show Less
Restricted access

Behind American Prison Policy and Population Growth

An Inside Account

Chris Menton

In the final decades of the 20th century, a confluence of factors precipitated a policy change in the criminal justice arena that led to unprecedented growth. This growth translated into the criminalization, sentencing and incarceration of tens of thousands of marginalized people in the United States. These factors are considered in Behind American Prison Policy and Population Growth: An Inside Account. Tales are told of the increased prison population that necessitated a continuous unfolding of prison construction projects, rehabbing abandoned state hospitals and private prisons, all with the aim of more and more secure accommodations. During this time, the author was a participant/observer at all correctional security levels, treatment and medical facilities and personnel training in this system. His roles over the years included increased responsibility and regular direct contact with incarcerated individuals in on-the-line or line supervisor positions. The narrative is enhanced by the author's background as social science scholar. This is a unique perspective, documenting a historic upturn in long-term detention addressing crime and disorder. These overarching realities produced struggle across all participants, including clients, staff, consultants and visitors. Their stories of being swept up in the constant demand for increasing capacity offer compelling background to the consequences of visceral responses guiding criminal justice.