Graduation Year


Date of Submission


Document Type

Campus Only Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


W.M. Keck Science Department

Reader 1

Jennifer Groscup

Reader 2

Jenna Monroy

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Terms of Use for work posted in Scholarship@Claremont.

Rights Information

2019 Maleny Santiago



Mass incarceration is a popular term in today’s society that is means to describe the high incarceration rate in the United States. Because of this, the United States has the largest prison population in the world. Mass incarceration is a movement that truly began to make headway during Reagan’s presidency and his declaration of a War on Drugs. The sensationalization of the dangers of crack cocaine sparked a “tough on crime” mentality and a long series of punitive measures that would come to disproportionately affect the black community. Today, mass incarceration has become an extremely controversial topic. The debate has centered on whether this country is too punitive and how current policies may be disproportionately affecting black men as they make up 33% of the prison population but only 12% of the general population (Alexander, 2010). However, regardless of the controversy, mass incarceration continues to affect millions of individuals in this country. Thus, the question is why individuals continue to be imprisoned at such alarming rates. Not only has the prison system take a strong foothold in this country but its power and influence continue to grow with the prison industrial complex. Therefore, ensuring that future generations will continue to be affected. In order to stop mass incarceration, we must consider alternatives to our prison system, such as a focus on rehabilitation rather than deterrence. Or perhaps an abolition of our prison system altogether.

This thesis is restricted to the Claremont Colleges current faculty, students, and staff.