Thursday, April 5, 2018

URSP Student Sarah Moore Researches the Ideas in Economics and Public Policy Regarding the State of Incarceration in the United States

The purpose of my project centers around the ideas in economics and public policy surrounding the current state of incarceration in the United States. It’s pretty much common knowledge that the U.S. leads the world in how many people it incarcerates each year; when I started interning at a criminal defense firm last spring, my interest on the subject was certainly piqued. Furthermore, when I switched my major to economics and realized that it was about more than just markets and supply and demand—yes, it deals with things like public policy and the implications of laws on human rights, individual liberties, etc.—I saw the need to act and culminate the two. My long-term goals are a bit “up in the air” so to speak. I’d like to become a policy advocate of some kind, though I doubt I would remain solely dedicated to matters of criminal law and incarceration specifically. That being said, I still think this is a pertinent issue and would be more than eager to do more to help alleviate what has become such a massive issue in our country. It has inspired me to change the way I think about legal advocacy, the way our political system works, and to become more critical of what “is” and what “could be.” What I do (or did for the sake of my initial paper) was look into as many resources as I could. Since my project was a written analysis in the form of a research paper, most of my work was just dissecting the facts that were already out and available for public consumption. Some of these sources were as simple as news clippings from popular news sources to figure out the modern rhetoric surrounding the subject to hundred-page dissertations from renowned experts on the subjects of drug laws, occupational licensing, and racial discrimination, which are the most talked about issues in the realm of mass incarceration and modern criminal justice. What I discovered this semester is that (though I already kind of knew this) is that politics is hardly ever about what it claims to be about. There are a lot of hidden narratives out there that have hurt a lot of innocent people; it’s incredibly disheartening to see how a few politicians in an era of great hate have managed to pervade modern discourse for as long as they have.