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Six years after the infamous and disturbing elevator video of former NFL player Ray Rice punching his fiancée Janay Palmer in the face, knocking her unconscious and then dragging her out of the elevator, Rice and Palmer remain happily married, both speaking out against domestic violence. Contrast Rice’s story to that of Samuel Lee Scott, a husband charged with murdering his wife hours after a nonprofit group posted his bail in a domestic violence case. The difference in these cases: Rice was given domestic violence counseling in lieu of jail, Scott was incarcerated. Research shows that incarceration actually increases future crime. Criminologists call this the “criminogenic effect” of prison. The criminogenic effect occurs when individuals enter prison and are surrounded by other prisoners who have committed more serious and violent offenses. Couple this with prison conditions such as overcrowding and lack of sanitation, and an environment that breeds violence and anti-social behavior is created. In the year 2020, a year filled with unprecedented violence due to political unrest, police brutality and social isolation from the COVID-19 pandemic, the effects of mass incarceration have become increasingly important. The more people we put in prison who do not need to be there, the more this criminogenic effect increases.


Posted with permission from The Recorder.

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