The United States has five percent of the world’s population but twenty-five percent of the world’s prison population. Reformers argue that these numbers reflect our country’s growing incarceration problem, while other experts point to the drastic reduction in violent crime over the past three decades as proof that tough on crime tactics work.  

Does the US have a mass incarceration problem or a crime problem? Do criminals receive unjust sentences? Have mandatory minimums and other tactics led to safer communities? Two experts, Steven H. Cook of the Department of Justice and Professor Shon Hopwood of Georgetown Law, discuss sentencing reform in the first video of a POLICYbrief series on criminal justice. 

As always, the Federalist Society takes no particular legal or public policy positions. All opinions expressed are those of the speaker.

Learn more about Prof. Shon Hopwood:

Follow Prof. Hopwood on Twitter: @shonhopwood

Learn more about Steven H. Cook:


Differing Views & Related Links:

The Dangerous Myths of Drug Sentencing “Reform” 

The Dangerous Myths of NAAUSA: A Response to the National Association of Assistant U.S. Attorneys’ Paper Titled “The Dangerous Myths of Drug Sentencing ‘Reform’”

The Dangerous Myths of Drug Sentencing “Reform”: A Response to FAMM

Sentencing reform is moving in the wrong direction

Reconsidering Mandatory Minimum Sentences: The Arguments for and Against Potential Reforms 

SOURCE: Violent crime and homicide rate graph: