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American Justice: Criminal Justice and the Era of Mass Incarceration

with Jacob Coolidge

project manager of Montana Justice Initiative, Alexander Blewett III School of Law

The United States is home to 5% of the global population, yet incarcerates 25% of the world’s prisoners. With the highest incarceration rate in the world, the United States is firmly entrenched in the "era of mass incarceration." This has been fueled by "tough on crime" political rhetoric, harsh sentencing laws, the war on drugs, and the privatization of the corrections industry. Jail overcrowding is commonplace across Montana. In most counties, as many as 80% of the inmates have not even been convicted of a crime. With more than 90% of criminal cases ending in a plea bargain or without a criminal trial, the human and financial impact of pre-trial detainment in county jails cannot be overstated. Coolidge explores the sociological and legal context of our ever-rising incarceration rates, its evolving social and economic impacts, and the future of American sentencing and corrections. Coolidge can work with your school or organization to define a focus within the topic of the criminal justice system that best fits your audience.