Chantale Soekhoe

Developing Leaders Through Graduate Education

Recieved BA in Urban Studies, Spring 2009


Urban Studies


Karen Riedl, Ph.D.

Previous Research: Land of the Free? Collateral Consequences of Mass Incarceration on the Black Community

The initiative taken to produce this report was driven by the current state of the United Statesd criminal justice system as it relates to the mass incarceration and high recidivism rates of the inmate population. The U.S. incarcerates individuals at a rate of 7-10 times that of any other democracy and maintains a 60% recidivism rate. The current state of the system can be attributed to sentencing policies of the “Get Tough on Crime” movement, which started in the 1970’s and spanned through the 90’s. While intended as a solution to social instability, the policy mandates were terribly flawed. From 1980-1996 when the inmate population saw a triple fold increase, 88% was attributed to “tough on crime” policies. An examination of New York’s prison profile rate of recividism indicates a dismal 75% for jail inmates at Rikers Island as compared to the national average of 60%. Findings show that minorities, while constituting lesser percentages of the state and city populations, constitute the highest percentages of prison and jail inmates. With the African American community being the most adversely affected by this trend the report places stronger emphasis on that family unit. High incarceration rates coupled with high recidivism rates indicates ineffective incarceration policy. In order to address the state of the nation’s criminal justice system three alternative solutions are proposed and a policy recommendation is given based on those results in made.