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Mass Incarceration

A research guide on mass incarceration and the prison industrial complex.

Key terms

  • Carceral state
  • Convict labor
  • Correctional system
  • Corrections
  • Criminal justice
  • Criminal law
  • Criminalization
  • Criminals -- Rehabilitation
  • Detention
  • Ex-convicts
  • Female offenders
  • Juvenile delinquency
  • Juvenile delinquents
  • Juvenile justice
  • Juvenile offenders
  • Imprisonment
  • Mass incarceration
  • Offenders
  • Parole
  • Penal reform
  • Penology
  • Policing
  • Prison industrial complex
  • Prison labor
  • Prison reform
  • Prisons
  • Prisoners
  • ​Probation
  • Punishment
  • Recidivism
  • School to prison pipeline

Finding Articles on Mass Incarceration

Looking for articles on mass incarceration? The NYU Libraries can help.

NYU Libraries has access to over 1,200 databases that cover a wide range of topics. Use the Articles & Databases tab on the NYU Libraries website to find articles.

Not sure where to start? Bibliographies give an overview of a topic and annotated citations for relevant sources. The Mass Incarceration entry on Oxford Bibliographies would be useful at any point in the research process.

Featured Databases

Popular Articles

Find popular articles by exploring publications including, but not limited to, The New York Times, The Washington PostThe Nation, and The Atlantic. Visit the Articles & Databases page and click on News & Newspapers under the Content-Specific header.

View the complete list of databases related to News & Newspapers. Here are some of the resources you will find there:

  • Alt-Press Watch is a full text database comprised of newspapers, magazines and journals of the alternative and independent press.
  • Flipster provides access to popular titles like Esquire, the New Yorker and Forbes.
  • Gannett Newsstand offers access to local and regional newspapers, including the Detroit Free Press, The Indianapolis Star and The Tennessean.
  • National Newspaper Index is an index of The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Christian Science Monitor, Los Angeles Times, and The Washington Post.
  • ProQuest Newsstand contains the html full text of hundreds of U.S. and international news sources, generally spanning the most recent five to ten years.

Archival and Primary Source Materials

Strategic Searching

There are three standard operators that can be used to connect these search words: AND, OR, and NOT.

  • Use AND to narrow down results and tell the database that the search terms used on either side of AND must all be present.
    • Example: ("mass incarceration" AND recidivism AND "racial bias")
  • Use OR to broaden search results and tell the database the results should contain any of the terms included.
    • Example: ("mass incarceration" OR "prison industrial complex" OR "prison pipeline")
  • Use NOT to exclude a word or phrase from the search results.
    • Example: ("prison labor" NOT "prison labour")

Check for tips on searching provided by the database (i.e., ProQuest Central has a Search tip link that helps turn a basic search into a more strategic one). Remember to try various keyword combinations, synonyms and alternative spellings (i.e., person of color or person of colour).

Research Reports

U.S. government reports and statistics are available online through the NYU Libraries catalog and in print at Bobst Library. The U.S. Government Documents research guide explains how to find government publications. 

Publications from non-governmental organizations are available through the organizations that publish them. Some historical reports from non-governmental organizations are in the library catalog.

Spotlight on Student Journalism & Activism

Some of the articles and features found in databases with national news coverage refer to stories originally reported by student-run newspapers:

  • Washington Square News: "University Confirms, Aramark Out, Chartwells In," by Victor Porcelli
  • Daily Princetonian: "Missing the (Ara)mark on divestment," by Amanda Eisenhour
  • Columbia Spectator: "Barnard No Aramark Wants a More Ethical College. Will the Administration Listen?" by Megan Evershed 
  • The Chicago Maroon: "Student group protests Aramark's role in prisons," by Alex Ward

Google Scholar

Google Scholar searches for scholarly literature in a simple, familiar way. You can search across many disciplines and sources at once to find articles, books, theses, court opinions, and more. For more tips on using Google Scholar, read the Advanced Google Searching research guide.