The United States has the highest rate and number of individuals under correctional supervision in the world. Mass criminalization and mass incarceration, which disproportionately target poor people and people of color, tear through every aspect of social life, from public health and education to housing, labor markets, the opioid epidemic, and the climate emergency. These policies destroy communities and the networks of care and support required to lead productive, healthy lives, without offering long-term economic benefit, security, or safety.
Mass criminalization and incarceration have crept into other institutions, like our public schools, where it is more likely for many students—-particularly students of color and LGBTQ students-—to end up in the criminal legal system than to receive a high-quality education. Airport-style security is an everyday experience for many students, creating climates of fear and anxiety and undermining healthy development without improving school safety or academic outcomes.
Our research integrates advanced epidemiologic methods with sociological, critical criminological, and abolitionist theory to document and explain the collateral public health consequences of mass criminalization and incarceration. Dr. Prins is the principal investigator of a National Institute on Drug Abuse K01 grant to study the role of adolescent substance use as determinant and consequence of the school-to- prison pipeline. Other projects include research on the theoretical and methodological assumptions underlying risk assessment in the criminal legal system, and the impact of jail incarceration rates on county mortality.