Todd Clear's Talk

The prison population in the United States began to rise in 1972, and increased every year between 1972 and 2010, and by that time the number of prisoners was about 8 times what it was in 1972. In 2011, the national prison population dropped slightly for the first time in a generation. It has been on a slight decline since. This talk reviews the factors that fueled the almost 40-year growth in incarceration, and then assesses why prison populations are now showing evidence of slight decline. Whether this decline is a permanent change in the punitive landscape, or a temporary sift, is discussed. The talk concludes with a review of what it would take to see a much larger change in true number of people behind bars.