Downsizing Prisons

How to Reduce Crime and End Mass Incarceration

292 pages

September, 2006

ISBN: 9780814742914

$26

Paper

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Author

Michael Jacobson has over twenty years of government service. He was formerly the commissioner of the New York City Departments of Correction and Probation and a deputy budget director for the City of New York, serving in the Koch, Dinkins, and Giuliani administrations. He is currently the Executive Director of the Vera Institute of Justice.

All books by Michael Jacobson

Over two million people are incarcerated in America’s prisons and jails, eight times as many since 1975. Mandatory minimum sentencing, parole agencies intent on sending people back to prison, three-strike laws, for-profit prisons, and other changes in the legal system have contributed to this spectacular rise of the general prison population.

After overseeing the largest city jail system in the country, Michael Jacobson knows first-hand the inner workings of the corrections system. In Downsizing Prisons, he convincingly argues that mass incarceration will not, as many have claimed, reduce crime nor create more public safety. Simply put, throwing away the key is not the answer.

Reviews

  • “There is a better path, and this book shows us how to find that new direction.”

    Los Angeles Times

  • Downsizing Prisons offers an innovative approach to reducing the strain on America’s overcrowded prisons: namely, by fixing the dysfunctional parole systems in states around the country. . . . Jacobson’s book comes at exactly the right time.”

    Mother Jones

  • “Policy wonks, journalists, elected officials and students of criminal justice will find the arguments and data in this book worth grappling with.”

    New York Newsday

  • “Should be read by the public and used by policy makers. Essential.”

    Choice

  • Downsizing Prisons explains not only why current incarceration policy is not working, but what we can do about it. Jacobson’s blueprint provides an overview of a pragmatic strategy that can reduce the size of our bloated prison system while improving prospects for public safety.”

    —Marc Mauer, author of Race to Incarcerate

  • Downsizing Prisons is an excellent, well-documented, and well-referenced case study. Jacobson is a seasoned policy practitioner who understands the fit of partisan, policy, and system politics. He has hands-on experience, understands what works, and knows first-hand the dysfunctional impacts of higher incarceration rates. He argues for more rational and effective cost-control approaches to crime control.”

    Public Administration Review