Funding provided by

Welcome, Scholars!

On behalf of The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and John Jay College of Criminal Justice, I am delighted that you have accepted our invitation to participate in the Interdisciplinary Roundtable on Punitiveness in America.

With a staggering 2.2 million incarcerated people in the United States, many scholars, practitioners, legislators, and politicians are now debating whether our current high levels of incarceration can and should be maintained. The emerging signs that a shift is occurring suggest that the time is ripe for a sustained, interdisciplinary exploration of just what it is that explains the harshness of much of American policy, and how progress might be made to reduce undue reliance upon punitive criminal and disciplinary policies.

We have two goals in mind for this most important and timely discussion. First, by exploring the phenomenon of punitiveness in American penal policy from a range of scholarly perspectives, we expect a rich intellectual exploration that will yield opportunities for further scholarly inquiry within and across disciplines. We encourage you to identify opportunities in which the extraordinary array of experts assembled here might collaborate to approach American punitiveness and related matters in new ways. Second, we also ask you to consider two practical questions: Could a sustained exploration of this topic contribute to significant changes in penal policy in the United States, and if so, how.

Tasked with these aims, we believe The Roundtable to be the first of its kind. We know you will make the most of the opportunities it will provide for intellectual enrichment, collaborative scholarship, and strategic policy change. With such a remarkable group of intellectuals assembled here today, I am extremely excited about the deliberations of the next two days.

Thank you for being a part of this important conversation.

Jeremy Travis

For any questions, please contact Bettina Muenster,