The Heritage Foundation Unveils Bombshell Report Addressing the Truth About Mass Incarceration

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The Heritage Foundation Unveils Bombshell Report Addressing the Truth About Mass Incarceration

May 29, 2024 2 min read

WASHINGTON—Today, The Heritage Foundation unveiled a new report titled “The Myth of Mass Incarceration.” The report counters the mainstream narrative that mass incarceration is one of the main problems plaguing the U.S. justice system. This misleading argument has led to policies that do not lock up violent perpetrators of crimes like rape, murder, and robbery. While the United States imprisons more people than many other countries, it also suffers from much higher violent crime rates than many other countries. This truth is often ignored by the political Left.

Cully Stimson, a Senior Legal Fellow at The Heritage Foundation, a former state and federal prosecutor, and co-author of the report stated:

“This report debunks the pro-criminal, anti-victim claim that the United States is locking up too many people and the only solution is to release dangerous criminals back onto the streets. The proponents of this outrageous narrative are attempting to divide the country along racial lines and ignoring a serious, national crime problem that has worsened under the Biden Administration.

“The findings in this report reveal an opposite narrative that should concern all Americans. Our justice system does not lock up enough people as most criminals are either not caught, tried, or convicted.”

Below are some main takeaways from the report:

  • Those who push the mass incarceration myth use a capacious definition of “incarceration,” often including those who are not actually behind bars. This makes the “mass” in mass incarceration appear much bigger than it actually is.
  • The actual violent crime rates in the United States are higher than the already high reported violent crime rates. Victims do not report all crimes, police do not make arrests for all reported crimes, prosecutors do not prosecute all of those arrested, and juries do not convict all of those who are prosecuted.
  • The laws and policies comprising the criminal justice system are facially neutral—they make no distinctions based on race.
  • American prisons are not filled with inmates who were over-sentenced. Sentencing data indicate that any disparity between black and non-black offenders is “relatively small.”
  • Only a fraction of people who commit crimes are imprisoned—even those who commit violent crimes—and the United States likely locks up too few.

Zack Smith, a Senior Legal Fellow at The Heritage Foundation, former federal prosecutor, and co-author of the report added:

“The idea that the United States unjustly targets and imprisons non-violent persons and innocent minorities is nothing more than a scare tactic from the pro-crime lobby. The reality is, the United States faces a crime epidemic, where American communities are no longer as safe due to Soros-backed prosecutors and soft-on-crime policies pushed by the mainstream media and Leftist politicians.

“This comprehensive report explains how the United States’ justice system is not systemically racist and sets the record straight on incarceration trends.”