Popular support for the prison build-up

Bert Useem, Raymond V. Liedka, Anne Morrison Piehl

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


A substantial build-up in prison capacity and the use of incarceration in the USA began in the mid-1970s and continued through to the end of the century. Researchers generally agree that a broad-based social movement supported the build-up, but disagree over the core features of the movement. Some researchers argue that it was the by-product of social discontents associated with rapid social change. Other researchers contend that the movement was an instance of purposeful people seeking solutions to a problem. Across several data sets, little evidence is found to support the position that advocates of the prison build-up had suffered from recent social changes. Instead, the evidence suggests that people supported the build-up for instrumental reasons.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5-32
Number of pages28
JournalPunishment & Society
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2003
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Law


  • New Penology
  • prison build-up
  • social movements


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