Incarceration Nation: Why Are So Many Americans in Prison?

NEWPORT, R.I. — On Thursday, March 20, 2014, the Pell Center will host a panel discussion exploring the reasons for the high rate of incarceration in the United States. The event will be held at 7:00 p.m. at Bazarsky Lecture Hall in O’Hare Academic Center.

One statistic cites that over 2 million Americans are in prison. Another statistic finds that the United States has about 5% of the world’s population yet it accounts for about 25% of the world’s prisoners. Moreover, America incarcerates more of its citizens than any other country at a financial cost of about $80 billion. Why are so many Americans behind bars? What does the high incarceration rate say about our society? What, if anything, could be done to reduce the number of prisoners?

A panel of speakers will address these questions and more in a 90-minute discussion moderated by Carolyn Deady, Pell Center Visiting Fellow for Global Challenges, who recently published “Incarceration and Recidivism: Lessons from Abroad,” a report which explores reasons for the high prison populations in America and looks to other countries with low prison rates to understand what they are doing right. Audience members will be encouraged to ask questions and offer opinions.


A.T. Wall, Director, Rhode Island Department of Corrections

David M. Zlotnick, Professor of Law, Roger Williams University School of Law

Scott Fichera, Probation Officer, Massachusetts Trial Court, District Court Division,

Fall River

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