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How Incarceration Infects a Community - The Atlantic


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    If incarceration risk is indeed propagated through social networks, our results predict that incarceration is self-perpetuating and changes to sentencing policy may have long-term unanticipated consequences. Indeed, harsher sentencing may hinder progress towards the intended goal of decreasing crime, creating safer communities and maximizing justice to the state, victim, and offender. Our model suggests that increased sentencing for an individual has negative effects that spread through social networks to affect families and whole communities. As a consequence, increased sentence lengths may create criminals from individuals who otherwise would have avoided criminal behavior.These patterns reveal new depths of the incarceration-poverty problem, with health effects that may carry over into new generations alongside the related economic burdens. The cumulative emotional stress resulting from high incarceration rates in a community may generate feedback loops of its own—perhaps by inducing substance abuse and other behaviors associated with depression and anxiety, and in turn predicting further incarceration.  

Incarceration seems like a negative feedback loop for many. 

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