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Broome County has the highest incarceration rate in New York State, with 39 people incarcerated per every 10,000 residents. This number has grown 680% since 1980 when the incarceration rate of Broome County was only 5 per 10,000. The purpose of this study is to uncover what social, political, or economic factors lead to Broome County having the highest incarceration rate in the state. To answer this question, I spoke first-hand with many important players in the criminal justice system - including activists, scholars, and prosecutors. I also underwent participant observations at community meetings, court arraignments, protests against incarceration, as well as visiting the Broome County jail itself multiple times. Factors that lead to high incarceration rates, such as poverty and housing insecurity, are experienced in most counties in New York state, but Broome County struggles with them more than the average county. This study sheds light on the impact of mass incarceration on local jails, as well as the factors that lead to an increase in incarceration locally. If we understand the factors that contribute to high incarceration rates, we will be able to create policies and programs to mitigate these factors and combat mass incarceration.



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Behind Bars in Binghamton: Exploring the Incarceration Rate of Broome County