The Atlantic

Imagining the Presence of Justice

A new project from The Atlantic focuses on efforts across the United States to move beyond the age of mass incarceration.

Source: Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times / Getty

Over the past several decades, America has seen a startling divergence between crime and punishment. While crime rates dropped steadily from the dramatic peaks of the 1990s, the nation’s incarceration rates continued just as steadily to grow. And so, despite containing only 5 percent of the world’s population, the United States came to hold a quarter of the world’s prisoners.

We’ve covered this divergence extensively in the print and digital pages of The Atlantic, from Ta-Nehisi Coates’s landmark story on the rise of the carceral state and the devastation it wreaked on black

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