Document Type

Article

Publication Date

2012

Center/Program

Columbia Center for Contemporary Critical Thought

Abstract

There has been a lot of recent debate over whether the economic crisis presents an opportunity to reduce prison populations and improve the state of criminal justice in this country. Some commentators suggest that the financial crisis has already triggered a move towards reducing the incarcerated population. Some claim that there is a new climate of bipartisanship on punishment. Kara Gotsch of the Sentencing Project, for example, suggests that we are now in a unique political climate embodied by the passage of the Second Chance Act under President George W. Bush-a climate that is substantially different than the era marked by President Bill Clinton's Omnibus Crime Bill.1 Others, such as Jonathan Simon at Berkeley, have suggested that our prison population is a bubble that will eventually burst. In his article in Daedalus, Clearing the "Troubled Assets" of America's Punishment Bubble, Simon suggests that the crisis of mass incarceration can be mapped onto the housing crisis and argues that the analogy may reveal potential remedies to the current situation. 2

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