Welcome! This guide will serve as a starting point for Shippensburg University students wishing to conduct research on various aspects of mass incarceration. You will find sources that introduce you to your topic and keep you up-to-date with links to news articles, research websites, journal articles, and research reports concerning mass incarceration.
Main Term(s): mass incarceration, prisoners Related Terms: prisons, criminal justice administration Broader Terms: imprisonment, incarceration, racism, punishment Narrower Terms: mass incarceration - history
This in-depth article by Ta-Nehisi Coates, the National Book Award winning journalist from the Atlantic, provides an excellent introduction to mass incarceration and its effects on African American families.
The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, 10th Anniversary ed. by Michelle Alexander
Call Number: Essential Read
Publication Date: New City Press, 2010, 2020.
In what is now a modern classic, issued in a 10th anniversary edition, Michelle Alexander informs readers how the mass incarceration of a disproportionate number of black men amounts to a devastating system of racial control. Despite the triumphant dismantling of the Jim Crow laws, the system that once forced African-Americans into a segregated second-class citizenship still haunts and the criminal justice system still unfairly targets black men and deprives an entire segment of the population of their basic rights. Outside of prisons, a web of laws and regulations discriminates against these wrongly convicted ex-offenders in voting, housing, employment and education. Alexander here offers an urgent call for justice.
From the War on Poverty to the War on Crime: The Making of Mass Incarceration in America by Elizabeth Hinton
Publication Date: Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2016
Elizabeth Hinton traces the rise of mass incarceration to an ironic source: the social welfare programs of Lyndon Johnson's Great Society at the height of the civil rights era. Johnson's War on Poverty policies sought to foster equality and economic opportunity. But these initiatives were also rooted in widely shared assumptions about African Americans' role in urban disorder, which prompted Johnson to call for a simultaneous War on Crime. The 1965 Law Enforcement Assistance Act empowered the national government to take a direct role in militarizing local police. Federal anticrime funding soon incentivized social service providers to ally with the criminal justice system. Under Nixon and his successors, welfare programs fell by the wayside while investment in policing and punishment expanded. Policymakers urged states to build new prisons and introduced law enforcement measures into urban schools and public housing, turning neighborhoods into targets of police surveillance. By the 1980s, crime control and incarceration dominated national responses to poverty and inequality.
Sentencing Fragments: Penal Reform in America, 1975-2025 by Michael H. Tonry
Publication Date: New York: Oxford University Press, 2016
In Sentencing Fragments, Michael Tonry traces four decades of American sentencing policy and practice to illuminate the convoluted sentencing system, from early reforms in the mid-1970's to the transition towards harsher sentences in the mid-1980's. The book combines a history of policy with an examination of current research findings regarding the consequences of the sentencing system, calling attention to the devastatingly unjust effects on the lives of the poor and disadvantaged. The book is enriched throughout by comparisons with data from other western democracies. Tonry concludes with a set of proposals for creating better policies and practices for the future, with the hope of ultimately creating a more just legal system.
Understanding Mass Incarceration: A People's Guide to the Key Civil Rights Struggle of Our Time by James Kilgore; Introduction by Michelle Alexander
Publication Date: 2015
We all know that orange is the new black and mass incarceration is the new Jim Crow, but how much do we actually know about the structure, goals and impact of our criminal justice system? Understanding Mass Incarceration offers the first comprehensive overview of the incarceration apparatus put in place by the world's largest jailer: the USA. Drawing on a growing body of academic and professional work, Understanding Mass Incarceration describes in plain English the many competing theories of criminal justice.
The Punishment Imperative: The Rise and Failure of Mass Incarceration in America by Todd R. Clear; Natasha A. Frost
Publication Date: New York University Press, 2014
The authors argue that while the doubling of the U.S. crime rate in the late 1960s represented one of the most pressing social problems at the time, it was instead the way crime posed a political problem--and thereby offered a political opportunity--that became the basis for the great rise in punishment. Clear and Frost contend that the public's growing realization that the severe policies themselves, not growing crime rates, were the main cause of increased incarceration eventually led to a surge of interest in taking a more rehabilitative, pragmatic, and cooperative approach to dealing with criminal offenders.
Death and Other Penalties: Philosophy in a Time of Mass Incarceration by Geoffrey Adelsberg (Editor); Lisa Guenther; Scott Zeman
Publication Date: 2015
Motivated by a conviction that mass incarceration and state execution are among the most important ethical and political problems of our time, the contributors to this volume come together from a diverse range of backgrounds to analyze, critique, and envision alternatives to the injustices of the U.S. prison system, with recourse to deconstruction, phenomenology, critical race theory, feminism, queer theory, and disability studies. They engage with the hyper-incarceration of people of color, the incomplete abolition of slavery, the exploitation of prisoners as workers and as "raw material" for the prison industrial complex, the intensive confinement of prisoners in supermax units, and the complexities of capital punishment in an age of abolition. The resulting collection contributes to a growing intellectual and political resistance to the apparent inevitability of incarceration and state execution as responses to crime and to social inequalities.
The Growth of Incarceration in the United States: Exploring Causes and Consequences by National Research Council; Ed. by Steve Redburn, Jeremy Travis and Bruce Western
Publication Date: National Academies Press, 2014
This work examines research and analysis of the dramatic rise of incarceration rates and its affects. It makes the case that the United States has gone far past the point where the numbers of people in prison can be justified by social benefits and has reached a level where these high rates of incarceration themselves constitute a source of injustice and social harm. The Growth of Incarceration in the United States recommends changes in sentencing policy, prison policy, and social policy to reduce the nation's reliance on incarceration. The report also identifies important research questions that must be answered to provide a firmer basis for policy. It assesses the evidence and its implications for public policy to inform an extensive and thoughtful public debate about and reconsideration of policies.
The First Civil Right How Liberals Built Prison America by Naomi Murakawa
Publication Date: New York : Oxford University Press, 2014
Naomi Murakawa inverts the conventional wisdom by arguing that the expansion of the federal carceral state - a system that disproportionately imprisons blacks and Latinos - was, in fact, rooted in the civil-rights liberalism of the 1940s and early 1960s, not in the period after it. Murakawa traces the development through several presidencies, both Republican and Democrat. Responding to calls to end the lawlessness and violence against blacks at the state and local levels, the Truman administration expanded the scope of what was previously a weak federal system. Later administrations expanded the federal presence even more. Ironically, these steps laid the groundwork for the creation of the vast penal system that now exists. What began as a liberal initiative to curb the mob violence and police brutality that had deprived racial minorities of their "first civil right" - physical safety - eventually evolved into the federal correctional system that now deprives them, in unjustly large numbers, of another important right: freedom.
The Criminalization of Black Children: Race, Gender, and Delinquency in Chicago’s Juvenile Justice System, 1899–1945 by Tera Eva Agyepong
Publication Date: Chapel Hill : University of North Carolina Press, 2018
In the late 19th century, progressive reformers recoiled at the prospect of the justice system punishing children as adults. Advocating that children's inherent innocence warranted fundamentally different treatment, reformers founded the nation's first juvenile court in Chicago in 1899. Yet amid an influx of new African American arrivals to the city during the Great Migration, notions of inherent childhood innocence and juvenile justice were circumscribed by race. In documenting how blackness became a marker of criminality that overrode the potential protections the status of "child" could have bestowed, Tera Eva Agyepong shows the entanglements between race and the state's transition to a more punitive form of juvenile justice. She expands the narrative of racialized criminalization in America, revealing that these patterns became embedded in a justice system originally intended to protect children. In doing so, she also complicates our understanding of the nature of migration and what it meant to be black and living in Chicago in the early 20th century.
Burning Down the House: The End of Juvenile Prison by Nell Bernstein
Publication Date: New York: The New Press, 2014
One in three American children will be arrested by the time they are 23, and many will spend time locked inside horrific detention centers that defy everything we know about how to rehabilitate young offenders. In a clear-eyed indictment of the juvenile justice system run amok, Nell Bernstein shows that there is no right way to lock up a child. The act of isolation denies children the thing that is most essential to their growth and rehabilitation: positive relationships with caring adults. Includes first-person accounts of detention experiences from former youth offenders.
Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson
Call Number: Essential Read
Publication Date: New York: Spiegel & Grau, 2014
A powerful true story about the potential for mercy to redeem us, and a clarion call to fix our broken system of justice. Bryan Stevenson was a young lawyer when he founded the Equal Justice Initiative, a legal practice dedicated to defending those most desperate and in need: the poor, the wrongly condemned, and women and children trapped in the farthest reaches of our criminal justice system. One of his first cases was that of Walter McMillian, a young man who was sentenced to die for a notorious murder he insisted he didn't commit. The case drew Bryan into a tangle of conspiracy, political machination, and legal brinksmanship--and transformed his understanding of mercy and justice forever. Just Mercy is at once an unforgettable account of an idealistic, gifted young lawyer's coming of age, a moving window into the lives of those he has defended, and an inspiring argument for compassion in the pursuit of true justice.
Convicting the Innocent: Where Criminal Prosecutions Go Wrong by Brandon L. Garrett
Publication Date: Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2011
In this unsettling in-depth analysis, Brandon Garrett examines what went wrong in the cases of the first 250 wrongfully convicted people to be exonerated by DNA testing. Based on trial transcripts, Garrett's investigation into the causes of wrongful convictions reveals larger patterns of incompetence, abuse, and error. Evidence corrupted by suggestive eyewitness procedures, coercive interrogations, unsound and unreliable forensics, shoddy investigative practices, cognitive bias, and poor lawyering illustrates the weaknesses built into our current criminal justice system. Garrett proposes practical reforms that rely more on documented, recorded, and audited evidence, and less on fallible human memory.
This library database serves as a search engine to search most library databases at the same time, including magazine and journal databases, e-book collections, and the library catalog. News databases are not included in a comprehensive way. Supplement this with direct searching of ProQuest Newstand and Lexis Nexis Academic. Search results default to items that the library owns, either in online or print format. Remove the "Available in Library Collection" limiter to retrieve items available through interlibrary loan.
Academic Search Complete is our most important general database. covering all subject areas. It is useful for research in all classes, as it includes 26+ million newspaper, magazine, and journal articles, with 50% of these immediately available in full-text.
Access from on campus or off campus with Ship ID.
Contents indexed in Ship Library Discovery Search.
One of the most comprehensive news databases in the world, ProQuest Global Newstream includes access to over 3000 news sources, including 2,200 newspapers, as well as blogs, podcasts, websites and news wire feeds worldwide.
Development note - alt link use stats: (91 total hits, 33 since 7/2012 -- 10 /2012)
This library database is one of the world's largest full-text databases, including very extensive news, legal, and business information. Along with ProQuest Newstand, it is our primary source of news information.
Covers scholarly publications in sociology, social work, criminal justice, and related fields. Contains >2.5 million articles and other materials (70% in full text) with deep coverage from 1960 and some back to 1882.
Political Science Complete is an extensive full-text collection and index to political science literature. It includes online full-text for 500+ academic journals in political science and related fields. It also provides cover to cover indexing for a total of 1,000 political science journals and selective coverage for an additional 1,000 journals in related fields. It also includes a collection of some 340 reference and other political science e-books. In this way, Political Science Complete forms the perfect in-depth complement to the broader coverage found in our current PAIS database.
Library database that covers the most important and controversial issues of the day. Contains the full text of CQ Researcher, a weekly publication. Each issue provides a comprehensive overview and background essay, data tables and graphs, chronology, pro-con starter, and list of major research and advocacy groups. Includes extensive lists of sources and hot-linked footnotes throughout.
Access from on campus or off campus with Ship ID.
Quality Web Sources
High Quality Web Source Finder
Use this search tool to find high quality web sources for your research. You can limit by In-Depth Journalism, Newpaper Topic Guides, Science News, CRS (Congressional Research Service) Reports, and Web Directories. Please Note: Several ads will appear first in the results list.
ProPublica is a freely available website produced by a major online non-profit news organization dedicated to in-depth investigative reporting about current issues in the public interest. ProPublica features two kinds of reporting: Investigations, which include a series of in-depth articles about a topic (often between 15 and 30 articles - major topics range from dozens to 100+ articles). MuckReads are shorter reports featuring investigative journalism from other news agencies. Major areas of interest include, among others: healthcare and the health industry, fracking, censorship, money and politics, and financial and economic issues.
Reveal is a freely available website and the online media platform for the Center for Investigative Journalism, a major online non-profit news organization, founded in 1977, and dedicated to in-depth investigative reporting about current issues in the public interest. They publish series of investigative reports on a topic (typically between 10 and 20). Major areas of coverage include: criminal justice, the environment, guns, health care, labor and employment, national security, religion, surveillance and privacy, and veterans.
The Center for Public Integrity is a freely available website produced by a major online non-profit news organization dedicated to in-depth investigative reporting about current issues in the public interest, with a special focus on accountability and fairness, especially in terms of the role and influence of money. Topics featured include politics and elections, national security business, the environment, juvenile justice and health.
NPR is one of the most important freely-available sources of investigative journalism. It includes excellent topical pages but these are not easily browseable on the website. Use the High Quality Web Source Finder search box to locate the topical pages for your issue.
This very high quality web site, located at Harvard's Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy and sponsored by leading academic journalism programs, guides journalists and other researchers to find scholarly sources related to many of the most important topics in the news. Whenever the source is not available in full-text, use the discovery layer or library A-Z journal list to get library access to the article or to order it on interlibrary loan.
Newspaper Topic Guides
A number of important national newspapers have topic or issue sections of their website that bring together all the paper's articles on particular topics. The leading example of this is "Times Topics" from the New York Times. Each topic guide/section has a search tool that lets you refine your search.
Unfortunately, these sections are often not easy to browse or locate on the newspaper websites. Use the "High Quality Web Source Finder" search box above to search for your topic. Then choose the Newspaper Topic Guides tab to look for these in the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, and Chicago Tribune. If you should hit a pay wall when browsing these newspapers, simply search for articles from any of these three papers using the ProQuest Newstand library database.
Congressional Research Service Reports (CRS Reports)
The Congressional Research Service (CRS) is the public policy research division of Congress. It issues detailed research reports on a very wide range of issues. CRS doesn't maintain its own website, but its reports are available through several organizations and libraries.
The University of North Texas maintains a freely available digital library collection of Congressional Research Service reports, with the goal "to provide integrated, searchable access to many of the full-text CRS reports that have been available at a variety of different web sites since 1990" -- website. Best search tool for finding CRS reports. Update holdings of specific reports through the Federation of American Scientists or through a web search on the name of a report.
This freely available website produced by the Vanderbilt University Libraries provides an alphabetical topical directory to important websites on some 50 current issues. These guide pages typically include sections for these kinds of web resources: Basic Sites, Government, International, News, Statistics, Interest Groups and Research Centers and Other Educational Sites.