Here are five books and and five documentaries to help you learn more about the history and impact of mass incarceration:


13th – a documentary by Ava DuVernay exploring the intersection of race, justice, and mass incarceration in the United States.

Rikers: An American Jail – A documentary telling the stories or people who have endured incarceration on Rikers Island.

Slavery by Another Name – A documentary that illuminates how in the years following the Civil War insidious new forms of forced labor emerged in the American South, persisting until the onset of World War II.

The House I Live In – A documentary that captures the stories of those on the front lines of the War on Drugs and offers a look at its human rights implications.

Voices of Hope Re-Entry Mini-series – A three-part series telling stories of community groups and policy organizations devoted to men and women returning home after incarceration.


Are Prisons Obsolete – In Are Prisons Obsolete? Angela Davis seeks to illustrate that the time for the prison is approaching an end. She argues forthrightly for “decarceration”, and argues for the transformation of the society as a whole.

Incarceration Nations – Beginning in Africa and ending in Europe, Incarceration Nations is Baz Dreisinger’s first-person odyssey through the prison systems of the world.

Just Mercy – A powerful true story about the potential for mercy to redeem us, and a clarion call to fix our broken system of justice—from Bryan Stevenson, one of the most brilliant and influential lawyers of our time.

Rethinking Incarceration – Dominique Gilliard explores the history and foundation of mass incarceration, examining Christianity’s role in its evolution and expansion. He then shows how Christians can pursue justice that restores and reconciles, offering creative solutions and highlighting innovative interventions.

The New Jim CrowThe New Jim Crow is a stunning account by Michelle Alexander of the rebirth of a caste-like system in the United States, one that has resulted in millions of African Americans locked behind bars and then relegated to a permanent second-class status—denied the very rights supposedly won in the Civil Rights Movement.