The American criminal justice has long exerted a substantive impact on UK crime control policy. US practices such as the privatization of criminal justice, ‘three strikes and you’re out’ (mandatory minimum prison sentencing), curfews and electronic monitoring (tagging) have all in turn, influenced justice policy formulation in the UK.

A cursory analysis of US criminal justice policy in the USA over four decades might suggest it has developed according to this condensed formula: employ more police officers, engage in more surveillance, control and punishment, and above all, incarcerate more people.

England and Wales may lead Europe in terms of the proportion of the population we imprison, but our capacity for imprisonment is rendered positively puny when compared with the USA’s muscular embrace of mass incarceration.

America locks up almost 2.3 million people - that is, one in 100 of its adult citizens. This is an imprisonment rate up to ten times greater than other western parliamentary democracies. Were we to imprison our people at the same proportional rate as the USA, we would have a staggering total of 415,569 people behind bars today.

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