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13 Geo. J. on Poverty L. & Pol'y 249 (2006)
Failed Reentry: The Challenges of Back-end Sentencing

handle is hein.journals/geojpovlp13 and id is 255 raw text is: Georgetown Journal on Poverty Law & Policy
Volume XIII, Number 2, Summer 2006
POLICY PERSPECTIVE
Failed Reentry:
The Challenges of Back-end Sentencing
Jeremy Travis* and Kirsten Christiansen**
INTRODUCTION
The realities of the growth in imprisonment in America are well known.
Beginning in the early 1970s, the nation began to significantly increase the use of
imprisonment as a response to crime. In ensuing decades, the per capita rate of
imprisonment has increased every year until we now find ourselves with a rate of
incarceration--488 sentenced inmates per 100,000 U.S. residents'-that has
more than quadrupled. In 1973, there were slightly more than 200,000
individuals in our state and federal prisons; by 2005, those prisons, now
expanded into a vast network of penitentiaries, housed about 1.5 million people.
This unprecedented rate of imprisonment, now the highest of any country in the
world, has led some commentators to characterize the modern era as the age of
mass incarceration or mass imprisonment.''4
Less well known is the growth in a related phenomenon called back-end
sentencing, the practice of sending former prisoners back to prison for parole
violations. The increases in this method of incarceration have been even more
* President, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, City University of New York; J.D., M.P.A., New
York University.
** Graduate student, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, City University of New York.
1. PAIGE M. HARRISON & ALLEN J. BECK, U.S. DEP'T OF JUSTICE, BUREAU OF JUSTICE STATISTICS,
PRISONERS AND INMATES AT MID-YEAR 2005 1 (2006), available at http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/pub/pdf/
pjim05.pdf. The incarceration rate including those being held in local jails (as differentiated from state
and federal prisons) is 738 per 100,000 U.S. residents. Id. at 2.
2. See U.S. Dep't of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, Incarceration rates for prisoners, under State
or Federal jurisdiction, per 100,000 residents, 1977-98 (2000), available at http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/
dtdata.htm; U.S. Dep't of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, Incarceration rate, 1980-2005, http://
www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/glance/tables/incrttab.htm.
3. HARRISON & BECK, supra note 1, at 1.
4. See generally, e.g., MARY PATTILLO, DAVID WEIMAN & BRUCE WESTERN, EDS., IMPRISONING
AMERICA: THE SOCIAL EFFECTS OF MASS INCARCERATION (2004); MARK MAUER & MEDA CHESNEY-LIND,
EDS., INVISIBLE PUNISHMENT: THE COLLATERAL CONSEQUENCES OF MASS IMPRISONMENT (2002); David
Garland, The Meaning of Mass Imprisonment, in MASS IMPRISONMENT: SOCIAL CAUSES AND CONSE-
QUENCES (David Garland, ed., 2001).
5. See JEREMY TRAVIS, BUT THEY ALL COME BACK: FACING THE CHALLENGES OF PRISONER REENTRY
(2005).

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