The United States is the world’s leading nation in incarceration, by a very large margin. With overpopulated prisons and jails, the school-to-prison pipeline, and the rise in recidivism, this epidemic must have an effect on our economy. In my research, I would like to analyze the affects mass incarceration has on our economic development. I do this by collecting data on current prison/jail populations and costs, as well as looking at specific legislature that have had significant impacts on the efficiency of the prison system.
While it is important to point out the flaws in the prison system, it is also essential to search for solutions for these problems. I will do this by analyzing different country’s methods, legislature, and attitudes towards the prison system. Scandinavian nations see prisons as a way to help those who are incarcerated, and make them healthy, happy, and successful members of society. In the United States, we tend to mistreat those who are incarcerated and often times make their situations worse, especially for drug related crimes. This causes a cycle of recidivism that could hurt families, communities, and the nation as a whole.
I would like my research to be a starting point for me in my career. As an economics major, economic development is the ultimate goal. There are several ways to improve a nation, and I believe that fixing the prison system in the U.S. could create incredible benefits.