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Series

Columbia Law School

2011

Mass incarceration

Articles 1 - 3 of 3

Full-Text Articles in Law

Reducing Mass Incarceration: Lessons From The Deinstitutionalization Of Mental Hospitals In The 1960s, Bernard Harcourt Jan 2011

Reducing Mass Incarceration: Lessons From The Deinstitutionalization Of Mental Hospitals In The 1960s, Bernard Harcourt

Faculty Scholarship

In a message to Congress in 1963, President John F. Kennedy outlined a federal program designed to reduce by half the number of persons in custody. The institutions at issue were state hospitals and asylums for the mentally ill, and the number of such persons in custody was staggeringly large, in fact comparable to contemporary levels of mass incarceration in prisons and jails. President Kennedy's message to Congress – the first and perhaps only presidential message to Congress that dealt exclusively with the issue of institutionalization in this country – proposed replacing state mental hospitals with community mental health centers, a ...


Reducing Mass Incarceration: Lessons From The Deinstitutionalization Of Mental Hospitals In The 1960s, Bernard E. Harcourt Jan 2011

Reducing Mass Incarceration: Lessons From The Deinstitutionalization Of Mental Hospitals In The 1960s, Bernard E. Harcourt

Faculty Scholarship

In 1963, President Kennedy outlined a federal program designed to reduce by half the number of persons in custody in mental hospitals. What followed was the biggest deinstitutionalization this country has ever seen. The historical record is complex and the contributing factors are several, but one simple fact remains: This country has deinstitutionalized before. As we think about reducing mass incarceration today, it may be useful to recall some lessons from the past. After tracing the historical background, this essay explores three potential avenues to reduce mass incarceration: First, improving mental health treatment to inmates and exploring the increased use ...


An Institutionalization Effect: The Impact Of Mental Hospitalization And Imprisonment On Homicide In The United States, 1934-2001, Bernard E. Harcourt Jan 2011

An Institutionalization Effect: The Impact Of Mental Hospitalization And Imprisonment On Homicide In The United States, 1934-2001, Bernard E. Harcourt

Faculty Scholarship

Previous research suggests that mass incarceration in the United States may have contributed to lower rates of violent crime since the 1990s but, surprisingly, finds no evidence of an effect of imprisonment on violent crime prior to 1991. This raises what Steven Levitt has called “a real puzzle.” This study offers the solution to the puzzle: the error in all prior studies is that they focus exclusively on rates of imprisonment, rather than using a measure that combines institutionalization in both prisons and mental hospitals. Using state-level panel-data regressions over the 68-year period from 1934 to 2001 and controlling for ...