The Effects of Imprisonment

Cheryl Lero Jonson

in The Oxford Handbook of Criminological Theory

Published in print November 2012 | ISBN: 9780199747238
Published online December 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

 The Effects of Imprisonment

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  • Criminology and Criminal Justice
  • Theories of Crime
  • Prisons and Jails


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Over the past forty years, the United States has relied on mass incarceration as a means to control crime. This reliance on imprisonment, known as the “penal harm movement,” has advocated incapacitation and other get-tough policies to punish offenders. This “get tough” era has made imprisonment one of the main crime control strategies utilized in the United States to incapacitate offenders and deter current and future offenders. Prisons exist for this purpose; they house both serious and minor offenders. This article assesses the impact of imprisonment on the reoffending of individuals sentenced to non-custodial sanctions as opposed to those given custodial sanctions, sentenced to shorter versus longer sentences, and placed in harsher compared to less harsh prison conditions.

Keywords: United States; incarceration; imprisonment; prisons; penal harm movement; crime control; reoffending; non-custodial sanctions; custodial sanctions; sentences

Article.  8552 words. 

Subjects: Criminology and Criminal Justice ; Theories of Crime ; Prisons and Jails

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