Key terms

Arrest is the act of taking a person into legal custody or control, usually because the person is suspected of or observed to have engaged in an act that breaks a law.

Jails are city- or county-run facilities where people await conviction or sentencing, and some people are serving relatively short sentences (usually for misdemeanors). It is also where people go for brief periods of detainment after arrest.

Prisons are facilities under state or federal control where people who have been convicted (usually of felonies) serve their sentences. Typically sentences to prison are for a year or more.

Probation is when a person is under correctional supervision in the community. They are convicted but the jail or prison sentence is suspended, so they do not serve time in jail or prison. They can go to jail or prison for violating any conditions of probation.

Parole is when a person is under correctional supervision in the community after having served time in prison. They are released prior to the court-imposed expiration date and can be returned to prison for violating any of the conditions of parole. This is also referred to as “extended supervision”.

Recidivism is when a person breaks the law again after being released from correctional supervision. It can be measured in different ways, such as self-report of behavior or examining records so determine if they have been arrested, convicted, or incarcerated again.

Course Syllabus

Not Enrolled
Scope of the Issue
Does the US really incarcerate more people than any other country in the world?
How has the number of people incarcerated in the US changed over time?
Key terms
How many people are arrested each year in the US?
Why are there such stark racial and economic inequities in incarceration in the US?
What role do jails play in mass incarceration?
How many people are on probation or parole?
How many women are incarcerated in the US?
Section 1 Quiz
Intersecting Vulnerabilities
What proportion of people who are incarcerated have health and mental health concerns?
What proportion of people who are incarcerated have substance use disorders?
Co-occurence of mental health and substance use disorders in people who were arrested
How are biomedical scientists re-envisioning how the justice system responds to the opioid crisis?
Pregnant women and substance use disorder
Nora’s blog: Pregnant people with substance use disorders need treatment, not criminalization
Section 2 Quiz
"We Are Just Kids"
How many parents are incarcerated in the US?
How many children have a parent incarcerated in jail or prison in the US?
Where do children live during parental incarceration?
Parental incarceration as an adverse childhood experience
What child outcomes are associated with parental incarceration?
Is parental incarceration ever helpful for children?
Does parental incarceration affect children differently depending on the child’s age at the time of the experience?
What is associated with increased stress for children with incarcerated parents?
A parent’s arrest, even if it does not lead to incarceration, can also be challenging for children
Racial Inequities in Arrests
Stressors associated with parental justice system involvement
Stressors and recidivism
Resilience processes for children are more likely when ...
From Stigma to Support
Studies on stigma and incarceration
The language that we use
Can you change your thinking?
Sesame Street in Communities
Listening to youth voices
What can HBCD teams do to support justice-involved families in research?
How policies can respond to parental incarceration
Further reading
Section 4 Quiz
Closing video