Sharp Rise in U.S. Incarceration Rate Examined in New Report to Be Released April 30


The U.S. experienced an unprecedented, sharp rise in incarceration over the past four decades, making its penal population the largest in the world.  A new report from the National Research Council explores drivers and consequences of this dramatic increase and whether the policies that led to this spike are achieving their desired effects, or if the role of prisons in U.S. society should be reconsidered.  The report will be released at a public briefing beginning at 2:30 p.m. EDT on April 30.   


The Growth of Incarceration in the United States: Exploring Causes and Consequences provides a comprehensive evaluation of scientific evidence on the effects of high imprisonment rates on public safety and crime prevention, as well as their effects on individuals and communities. The report examines the financial and social costs of current sentencing and incarceration policies, especially for minority and disadvantaged populations, and whether they outweigh the benefits to society.



Members of the authoring committee will present the report's findings at a public briefing beginning at 2:30 p.m. EDT on April 30 in the Carolinas Room of the Pew Charitable Trusts DC Conference Center, 901 E St. N.W., Washington, D.C. Those who cannot attend may view a live video webcast of the event at


Speakers participating in the briefing:

Jeremy Travis (committee chair), president, John Jay College of Criminal Justice

Bruce Western (committee vice chair), professor of sociology and director of the Malcolm Wiener Center for Social Policy, Harvard Kennedy School of Government

Craig Haney, professor of psychology, University of California, Santa Cruz

Glenn Loury, Merton P. Stoltz Professor of the Social Sciences, Brown University


Advance copies of the report will be available to reporters only beginning at noon EDT Tuesday, April 29.  The report is embargoed and not for public release before 2:30 p.m. EDT Wednesday, April 30.  To obtain a copy of the report or to attend the event, reporters should contact the National Academies' Office of News and Public Information; tel. 202-334-2138 or e-mail


The private, nonprofit National Research Council is the principal operating arm of the National Academy of Sciences and National Academy of Engineering.  It provides policy advice under a congressional charter granted to NAS in 1863.