Mass Incarceration

Alyssa Hamilton

The United States of America has the highest incarceration rate in the world per capita. In 2019, the American criminal justice system held almost 2.3 million people in prisons. The current prison system is failing us. Eighty percent of prisoners return to jail within 5 years of being released because the prison system focuses on punishment, not rehabilitation, making reintegration into society nearly impossible for released criminals. Solitary confinement, abuse and a lack of resources only make this worse. Roughly 600,000 prisoners are released every year, back into your community to interact with your children and family, after years and years of sensory deprivation, violence, and being medically neglected. Unfortunately, there are hundreds of contributing factors and products of the mass incarceration crisis, but the most threatening and in need of attention are: the overcriminalization of drugs, inmate treatment and living conditions, the arrest and trial process, the prioritization of punishment over rehabilitation, and long sentence lengths for non-violent offenders.

The goal of my project is to bring awareness to this often overlooked problem. Throughout my research, I faced many unsettling emotions including fear, anger and deep sadness. While I do not wish to cause you pain, I noticed the impact my emotions had on my response to this issue. Therefore, I included disturbing content in my design to bring out similar emotions in you, because you should be fearful and angry about what is happening in our country.