Setting the Stage: 50 Years of Mass Incarceration in America – Where Do We Go From Here?

22nd Annual State Criminal Justice Network Conference
August 16-17, 2023 | Held Virtually

2023 marks the 50th year since the U.S. prison population began its extraordinary surge. As advocates mark 50 years of mass incarceration, what is needed to meaningfully decarcerate our nation’s jails and prisons?


To date over five million people are under supervision by the criminal legal system, and nearly two million people, disproportionately Black, are currently incarcerated in our nation’s jails and prisons. This represents a 500 percent increase since 1973.

How did we get here? Many of the conditions that drove this exponential rise in incarceration persists, including the failed War on Drugs, racially biased policing, disproportionate pretrial practices and sentencing outcomes and the expanded use of lengthy sentences.

#EndMassIncarceration: 50 Years of Failure

  • Khalil Cumberbatch, Director of Strategic Partnerships, Council on Criminal Justice
  • Premal Dharia, Executive Director, Institute to End Mass Incarceration
  • Cynthia Roseberry, Acting Director, ACLU Justice Division, American Civil Liberties Union
  • Moderated by: Nicole Porter, Senior Director of Advocacy, The Sentencing Project

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