The article examines imprisonment within the U.S. during the 20th century and discusses what these trends portend for imprisonment during the 21st century. The author creates a scale by which imprisonment rates and criminal statistics are evaluated. Charts and graphs are used to illustrate the growth in incarceration rates that occurred progressively throughout the 20th century. Elements such as penal law, prisons being viewed as sources of capital, and more stringent criminal justice procedures are referenced as factors that have contributed to imprisonment. Empirical methods are used to examine how prison populations will change in the 21st century.

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