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Impact of Mass Incarceration on American Society

Mass incarceration has affected the social life of American people in different ways. For instance, every year a large number of poorly disciplined prisoners are released into the streets, making the society even worse. This contributes to the spread of infections since most of them are infected with communicable diseases, HIV infections, as well as STIs (Wacquant, 2015). You will also find that they have not undergone a full transition, and most of them find themselves committing the same mistakes and ending up in prison again.

This creates a lot of fear for other Citizens in America because most of the prisoners, once released, come out with the aim of revenging whoever they think made them be jailed. Prisoners are also harmed in several ways. Having them mixed up with other different criminals makes them learn more dangerous crimes, which they apply to other people on the streets once they come out.

Mass incarceration also has an impact on the economy. Over two million workers are imprisoned, making them stay out of the economy. This population is then replaced with foreign workers, most of whom are illegal aliens who are allowed to work in the United States. This makes a large number of American citizens sit behind bars jobless. In addition, a record of imprisonment in one’s curriculum vitae acts as a hindrance to various job opportunities. This makes the individuals involved suffer from poverty due to the inability to get a stable, reliable job (Clear, 2015).

Mass incarceration also contributes to a lack of education. About half of the American prisoners are high school dropouts, and most of them are male. Males between the ages of 16 and 28 are involved in most of the violent crimes, including first-degree murder. Imprisoning them for a longer period of time contributes to damaging their brain, and they fail to catch up with their studies once released. Being imprisoned also denies them the chance of being employed once they complete their studies due to the fear that they may be dangerous to other workers in an organization (Clear, 2015).

The budget is also affected. This is because you find that most prisoners are male and parents as well. Detaining them for a longer period of time makes their families suffer from poverty and their children unable to get an education of good quality. This contributes to a larger number of the population ending up being jobless and relying on the government to cater to their needs. This affects the budget of the country since that amount of cast required to be used for other things now goes to the poor citizens in the society.

Mass incarceration has led to social inequality. This is because the record of imprisonment makes the prisoners be given fewer job opportunities since they are believed to be harmful to society even if they may have changed their dangerous acts.


Clear, T. R., & Frost, N. A. (2015). The punishment imperative: The rise and failure of mass incarceration in America. NYU Press.

Wacquant, L. (2015). From slavery to mass incarceration: Rethinking the “race question” in the United States. In Globalization of Racism (pp. 100-116). Routledge.



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