Like "Jim Crow" segregation to which it has been famously compared by Michelle Alexander, mass incarceration is quickly becoming something almost nobody admits to supporting. Yet even as many politicians in both parties embrace the idea of reforming sentencing laws (especially for drug crimes), the prison population itself is starting to go back up in the latest statistics. Unless we take time now to take stock of what mass incarceration really meant for American law and society we run the risk of institutionalizing significant features of it (as we ended up doing with segregation). In his book Mass Incarceration on Trial: A Remarkable Court Decision and the Future of Prisons in America (2014) Professor Jonathan Simon argues that the Supreme Court's Brown v. Plata (2011) decision which upheld the largest prison population reduction in US (or world) history, provides a critical window into why mass incarceration is a moral and human rights catastrophe that must be uprooted with concerted efforts to reduce the prison population dramatically and permanently.
Please join Professor Simon for a broad discussion of Brown v. Plata and the future of Mass Incarceration in California and in the US.
Professor Simon is also the author of Governing Through Crime: How the War on Crime Transformed American Democracy and Created a Culture of Fear (2007).