The criminal justice system is held together by policies and practices, both formal and informal, which influence the degree to which an individual penetrates the system. At multiple points in the system, race may play a role. Disparities mount as individuals progress through the system, from the initial point of arrest to the final point of imprisonment.26) Harsh punishment policies adopted in recent decades, some of which were put into effect even after the crime decline began, are the main cause of the historic rise in imprisonment that has occurred over the past 40 years.27)


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