Honors Program


Document Type


Date of this Version

Fall 2021


Henkel, A. 2021. Reforming United States Prisons: A Cross-Cultural Analysis. Undergraduate Honors Thesis. University of Nebraska-Lincoln.


Copyright Alex Henkel 2021.


This paper examines the United States prison system and its standing among peer countries, as well as potential reforms to improve this system and its effectiveness. The incarceration statistics of many different countries show that the United States incarcerates significantly more of its population than similar countries. I turn to an examination of how penal policies are formed across the world to evaluate their impact on the U.S. prison rate compared to other countries. Additionally, I look at recidivism to determine the effectiveness of United States incarceration. This analysis aims to highlight the differences between the U.S. and other countries that could account for its reliance on prisons and discuss potential improvements to the way United States incarceration works.