The Causes of Mass Incarceration

Locked In book cover

The Causes of Mass Incarceration: Moving Beyond the Standard Story


John Pfaff will visit American University’s Political Theory Institute, a JMC partner program, to discuss his book on the causes of mass incarceration in the United States.

Thursday, February 1, 5:30PM
Kerwin Hall, Room 301, American University

In his 2017 book Locked In: The True Causes of Mass Incarceration— and How to Achieve Real Reform, John Pfaff challenges the what he calls “the standard story” of how the United States came to have the highest incarceration rate in the world. The “standard story,” put forward by reformers such as Michelle Alexander author of The New Jim Crow, attributes this to the failed war on drugs, draconian sentencing guidelines and the private prison industry.  Pfaff, on the other hand, argues that the real answer lies in changes in the exercise of prosecutorial discretion which make a person arrested today twice as likely to be charged with a felony as someone arrested 40 years ago. 

RSVP for the event here.

>>See more upcoming lectures at the Political Theory Institute.


Pfaff headshotJohn Pfaff is Professor of Law at Fordham University Law School where he teaches criminal law, sentencing law, and law and economics. Before coming to Fordham, he was the John M. Olin Fellow at the Northwestern University School of Law and clerked for Judge Stephen F. Williams on the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit. Prof. Pfaff holds a JD and a PhD in economics from the University of Chicago.

>>Read more about Pfaff here.



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