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Mauer, Marc


PERSONAL: Male. Education: State University of New York, Stony Brook, B.A.; University of Michigan, M.S. (social work).

ADDRESSES: Offıce—The Sentencing Project, 514 Tenth St. NW, Suite 1000, Washington, DC 20004. E-mail—[email protected]

CAREER: Author and activist. Sentencing Project, Washington, DC, assistant director, 1987—. Consultant to Bureau of Justice Assistance, National Institute of Corrections, and American Bar Association.

AWARDS, HONORS: Helen L. Buttenweiser award, Fortune Society, 1991; Donald Cressey award, National Council on Crime and Delinquency, 1996.


(With Arthur Boyd) Bail Out: The Community Bail Fund Organizing Manual, American Friends Service Committee (Ann Arbor, MI), 1980.

(With others) The Race to Incarcerate, New Press (New York, NY), 1999.

(Editor, with Meda Chesney-Lind) Invisible Punishment: The Collateral Consequences of Mass-Imprisonment, New Press (New York, NY), 2002.

Author of reports for Sentencing Project, including (with Jenni Gainsborough) Diminishing Returns: Crime and Incarceration in the 1990s, 1990; Young Black Men and the Criminal Justice System: A Growing National Problem, 1990; Americans behind Bars: A Comparison of International Rates of Incarceration, 1991; (with Cathy Shine) Does the Punishment Fit the Crime? Drug Users and Drunk Drivers: Questions of Race and Class, 1993; Americans behind Bars: The International Use of Incarceration, 1992-1993, 1994; (with Tracy Huling) Young Black Men and the Criminal Justice System: Five Years Later, 1995; and (with Cathy Potler and Richard Wolf) Gender and Justice: Women, Drugs, and Sentencing Policy, 1999. Contributor to Behind the Razor Wire: Portrait of a Contemporary American Prison System, edited by Michael Jacobson-Hardy, New York University Press (New York, NY), 1999.

SIDELIGHTS: Described by a Publishers Weekly contributor as among the "few voices in the media decrying the explosive increase in the U.S. prison population," long-time activist Marc Mauer is the assistant director of the Washington, D.C.-based Sentencing Project, an organization founded in 1986 that promotes reforms in the U.S. criminal justice system and works to find alternatives to incarceration. In addition to authoring reports for the Sentencing Project and appearing as an advocate for judicial reform at hearings, Mauer has authored a number of books designed to alert the general public about the racial, economic, and other inequities inherent in sentencing guidelines in the U.S. criminal justice system.

His 1999 work The Race to Incarcerate cites a series of statistics, among them that U.S. courts imprison people up to ten times more than other industrialized nations, that in 1995 half of U.S. prison inmates were black, and that at the time of the book's publication it cost U.S. taxpayers 109 million dollars per day to run the nation's prisons. In his concluding chapter, Mauer argues for a change in the "prison as a deterrent" approach to crime, noting: "Most of us refrain from committing crimes each day not out of fear of a prison sentence but because we have better things to do with our lives." Marshaling "three decades worth of statistical evidence, program evaluations and governmental research," as Colman McCarthy explained in his review of The Race to Incarcerate for the Washington Post Book World, Mauer "presents evidence that reformers who were once dismissed as being 'soft on crime' turn out to have been sensible on crime." Praising the book as "meticulously researched," a Kirkus reviewer added that Mauer presents readers with a "sobering, crucial voice amid the obfuscatory, insensate 'tough-on-crime' din."

In Invisible Punishment: The Collateral Consequences of Mass Imprisonment Mauer and coeditor Meda Chesney-Lind collect sixteen essays by noted sociologists, criminologists, scholars, and journalists from throughout the United States. The editors preface the collection—which includes the essays "Black Economic Progress in the Ear of Mass Imprisonment" and "Entrepreneurial Corrections: Incarceration as a Business"—by noting that almost one fourth of the adult population of the United States can boast a criminal record, a surprising number of them members of racial or ethnic minorities. Looking back over the "get tough on crime" policies established by local, state, and federal authorities during the mid-1970s and into the 1990s as the United States waged its war on drugs, contributors examine the consequences of such policies in essays that Counterpunch contributor Elaine Cassel termed "thoughtful." Invisible Punishment "exposes the hidden, repugnant retribution policies of the American criminal justice . . . system," added Cassel. "It leaves the reader to judge whether the policies were well-intentioned . . . efforts to deal with crime, or deliberate acts of a vengeful society."



Mauer, Marc, and others, The Race to Incarcerate, New Press (New York, NY), 1999.


Contemporary Sociology, May, 2001, Jill McCorkel, review of The Race to Incarcerate, pp. 294-295.

Kirkus Reviews, July 15, 1999, review of The Race to Incarcerate, p. 1109.

Publishers Weekly, July 12, 1999, review of The Race to Incarcerate, p. 87; October 28, 2002, review of Invisible Punishment: The Collateral Consequences of Mass Imprisonment, p. 64.

Washington Post Book World, January 16, 2000, Colman McCarthy, review of The Race to Incarcerate, p. 13.


Counterpunch Web site, (January 13, 2003), Elaine Cassel, review of Invisible Punishment.

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