Jeri Kirby

Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



Eberly College of Arts and Sciences


Political Science

Committee Chair

John Kilwein

Committee Co-Chair

Robert Crichlow

Committee Member

Shauna Fisher

Committee Member

James Nolan

Committee Member

Gregory Noone


The extent and nature of incarceration has changed dramatically over the last 40 years in the United States. From 1980 to 2007, the American incarceration rate increased by 1,100 percent (BJS 2008). Much of this incarceration boom can be linked to the War on Drugs (WOD) and the punitive sentencing policies that developed from it. Understanding these punitive effects on individuals and communities and the challenges of prisoner re-entry requires us to consider the many levels of punishment that play a role in the United States correctional policies. Past research has considered the impact of the WOD policies on many facets including; sentencing, racial disparities, and state incarceration rates to name a few. This research will show that when considering incarceration policy, we must also consider the punitive differences among state correctional systems while also considering the punitive stages of control that come during incarceration and in the community after a prisoner is released. This dissertation will study the nature and effectiveness of state criminal punishment policies on prisons, programming, and prisoner re-entry.