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February 1, 2021

During a period of mass incarceration from the 1970s through the early 2000s, one of the most striking changes in the justice system was the shift toward punitive crime policy. Changes in sentencing law carried stark consequences for racial inequality; Black individuals currently account for one-third of all prisoners. Despite punitive crime policies driving the prison boom, little research has examined why states adopted these new, tougher criminal laws.

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