1800’s: The penitentiary was first developed in Philadelphia by the Quakers so the criminals could reflect on the errors of their ways. Those who had money paid for lesser offenses, and those who could not afford it faced public whippings and stocks. Later, imprisonment became more humane, where criminals were kept in solitary, with only their work and the bible. (Jones and Mauer, 2013, Race to Incarcerate)
1960’s: The 60’s were a time of social upheaval because of the prison reform movement’s want for “deinstitutionalization.” This was a period of rising crime rates because of the coming of age for baby boomers, a heroin epidemic, and rapid urbanization. There was a 10% decline in prison populations. Rehabilitation was challenged by conservatives, who were influenced by George Jackson, and liberals, who wanted to change the coercion of personal transformation, and this caused rising crime rates. By 1968, 72% of Americans thought the goal of prison should be rehabilitation. (Jones and Mauer, 2013, Race to Incarcerate)
1970’s: In the early 70’s, the number of prisoners began to rise. Also in this time period, there was a wave of building and filling prisons, and the growth of prisons became the norm. The “Race to Incarcerate” officially began in the year 1973, when the populations of prisons were rising. There was also a rise in cocaine use. This was a period of increasing crime rates. Some states made laws in regards to guns. For example, in 1975, Massachusetts passed a law mandating 1 year in prison for carrying an unlicensed gun, and in 1977 Michigan passed a paw requiring 2 years in prison for use of a gun in a felony. (Jones and Mauer, 2013, Race to Incarcerate)
1980’s: In the early parts of this time period, crime rates began to decrease, but increased in the mid-80’s into the 1990’s. There was also a rise in crack cocaine use. In 1980, when Ronald Reagan was elected president, there was a solidified shift to the right. Within his term, the Federal Sentencing Act of 1984 was made, and was designed to reduce disparity. This established the Federal Sentencing Commission. In the year 1988, the Anti-Drug Abuse Act was planned to make a drug-free America by the year 1995. (Jones and Mauer, 2013, Race to Incarcerate)
1990’s: At this time, crime rates were decreasing because the economic boom brought more jobs. As the crime rates dropped, many politicians wanted to take the credit. In 1992, half of all people sentenced to federal prisons were drug traffickers, and of these people, African Americans made up 36% of these arrests. As George H. W. Bush took the presidency, he had a justice department, which was committed to harsher policies and put together the Crime Bill of 1994. This Crime Bill gave money for prison building, policing, incarceration of “illegal aliens,” and prevention programs. (Jones and Mauer, 2013, Race to Incarcerate)
2000’s: By this time period, more than half the states enacted reforms to sentencing for drug policy. When the second George Bush came to office, he called for mentoring programs to aid re-entry into society, made more moves toward the death penalty, mainly because of attorney general John Ashcroft), and federal prison populations grew exponentially, yet crime rates decreased. In 2005, the Supreme Court ruled that federal sentencing guidelines should not be mandatory; rather, they should be advisory. (Jones and Mauer, 2013, Race to Incarcerate)
Jones, S., & Mauer, M. (2013). Race to incarcerate: A graphic retelling. New York: The New Press.