Source: (2004) In Criminal Justice: Retribution vs. Restoration. Journal of Religion & Spirituality in Social Work 23(1/2): 7-25.Over the past three decades, the United States has been engaged in an uprecendented expansion of its prison system, with the national inmate population rising from just over 300,000 in 1972 to nearly two million today. Much of this increase has been related to an overreliance on the criminal justice system as a means of responding to social problems and, in particular, to the expansion of harsh sentencing policies. There is little evidence that these policies have had any substantial impact on crime, but they have been increasingly harmful to family and neighborhood stability in low-income communities of color.