The United States has the highest incarceration rate in the world. This course examines the US criminal justice system, including (i) the causes and consequences of the rising incarceration rates that the nation has witnessed over the past 30 years, and the role of politics in driving society's appetite for locking people up; (ii) the labor market effects of having a prison record, along with the "spill-over" effects that incarceration has on ex-offenders' communities and families; and (iii) the costs borne at the state and federal levels of government. The course explores its subject matter from an interdisciplinary perspective, connecting ideas from economics, political science, sociology, and law. It will combine conceptual and statistical approaches to analysis. Possible texts include Bruce Western, Punishment and Inequality inAmerica ; Garland, David, Punishment and Modern Society ; Mary Pattillo, David Weiman and Bruce Western, eds., Imprisoning America: The Social Effects of Mass Incarceration ; and Norval Morris and David Rothman, The Oxford History of the Prison .