U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

Dot gov

The .gov means it’s official.
Federal government websites always use a .gov or .mil domain. Before sharing sensitive information online, make sure you’re on a .gov or .mil site by inspecting your browser’s address (or “location”) bar.


The site is secure.
The https:// ensures that you are connecting to the official website and that any information you provide is encrypted and transmitted securely.

Beyond the Prison Bubble

NCJ Number
Date Published
Joan Petersilia
Publication Series
NIJ Journal
This article, Beyond the Prison Bubble, examines why incarceration of offenders has not paid off as an effective means of reducing crime rates.
This article examines why incarceration of offenders has not paid off as an effective means of reducing crime rates. The author examines the current level of incarceration rates and crime rates to determine whether mass incarceration has been effective at lowering the crime rates. Research indicates that while mass incarceration has helped reduce crime rates, the effects have been considerably smaller than anticipated, and that the current level of benefits from mass incarceration are too low compared to its costs. In addition, with more offenders leaving prison with long criminal records and histories of substance abuse, unemployment, and homelessness, an increased effort needs to be put forth to help them successfully reenter society. Recent rehabilitation programs that incorporate proven principles and aimed at specific categories of offenders have been successful at reducing recidivism rates. These programs include intensive drug treatment programs, education, and vocational skills training programs for offenders while in prison. Other efforts include improvements in probation and parole programs that focus on individual cases as opposed to a one-size-fits-all approach, and community partnerships to provide resources and assistance to recently released offenders.
Date Created: November 28, 2011