SOCY 300 Proving the Relationship of Mass Shooting and Mental Illness

In the U.S. jails are run by sheriffs and local governments and designed to hold people awaiting trial or serving short sentences – generally 6 months or less.

Prisons are operated by the state and Federal Government (Bureau of Prisons) and are designed to hold people convicted of crimes.

Keep in mind that despite efforts to address U.S. incarceration rates, the U.S. continues to have the highest rates in the world:

“The U.S. incarceration rate fell in 2016 to its lowest level in 20 years, according to new data from the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS), the statistical arm of the Department of Justice. Despite the decline, the United States incarcerates a larger share of its population than any other country.

A variety of factors help explain why U.S. incarceration trends have been on a downward trajectory. Crime rates have declined sharply in recent decades despite an uptick in the violent crime rate between 2014 and 2016, according to FBI data. As crime has declined, so have arrests: The nationwide arrest rate has fallen steadily in recent years and is well below where it was in the 1990s, according to BJS.

Changes in prosecution and judicial sentencing patterns, as well as criminal laws, also may play a role in the declining number and share of people behind bars. Recent reductions in prison sentences for thousands of inmates who were serving time for drug-related crimes, for example, have driven a substantial decline in the federal prison population. That, in turn, has contributed to the broader decline in the overall incarcerated population.”

Please review the Power Point lecture and all assigned material for this week before posting. Answer my questions with a new topic and respond to two other students’ posts. Keep in mind that it is important to respect others’ posts in your replies/comments. We are discussing important but controversial issues facing American society. If possible support your post with empirical support.

1. Do we have definitive evidence that perpetrators of mass shootings are mentally ill? Please explain

2. Why can it be argued that the policies announced by the Department of Justice contradict reform efforts set forth in the First Step Act bill to reform the federal criminal justice system?

3. What has been the policy shift of the Trump administration in terms of private prisons?(See the NPR video on the Cost of Private Prisons.)

4. What is the relationship between poverty and jail incarceration according to the (NPR) Fresh Air discussion on this topic? In an important update on this topic, in late August 2018 the California state legislature voted to eliminate “cash-bail” from it’s criminal justice process. This legislation was meant to address the issues discussed in the NPR program.

5. How have recent changes in immigration policy including: criminal prosecution of immigrants attempting entry to the U.S. at our borders and separation of children from parents affected the private prison industry?

6. Does the First Step Act reform any of the issues discussed in this week’s assigned material that are driven by poverty, and racial disparity in sentencing? Please explain.


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