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Book Launch: Ernest Drucker’s A Plague of Prisons

  • When
  • October 11, 2011
    2:00–7:30 p.m.
  • Where
  • Open Society Foundations–New York
    224 West 57th Street
    New York, NY 10019
    United States of America
  • Programs
  • Public Health Program

Mass Incarceration in America


The Open Society Public Health Program invites you to celebrate Ernest Drucker’s new book, A Plague of Prisons: The Epidemiology of Mass Incarceration in America.  Drucker will be on hand to discuss his groundbreaking work with a Q&A to follow.

Drucker, an internationally recognized public health scholar and researcher, spent 20 years treating drug addiction and studying AIDS in some of the poorest neighborhoods of New York City’s South Bronx. A Plague of Prisons offers a novel perspective on criminal justice in 21st century America and is sure to provoke debate and shift the paradigm of how society thinks about punishment. 

The evening will kick off with introductions by U.S. District Judge Robert W. Sweet for the Southern District of New York as well as Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the New York-based Drug Policy Alliance (DPA). The evening's discussion will be moderated by Jill Harris, DPA’s acting deputy director.

Copies of A Plague of Prisons will be available for purchase at the event, and refreshments will be served.

About A Plague of Prisons

When Dr. John Snow first traced an outbreak of cholera to a water pump in the Soho district of London in 1854, the field of epidemiology was born. Taking the same concepts and tools of public health that have successfully tracked epidemics of flu, tuberculosis, and AIDS over the intervening 150 years,  Drucker makes the case that our current unprecedented level of imprisonment has become an epidemic—a plague upon our body politic.

Drucker compares mass incarceration to other well-recognized epidemics using basic public health concepts—“prevalence and incidence,” “outbreaks,” “contagion,” “transmission,” and “potential years of life lost.” He argues that imprisonment, originally conceived as a response to an individual's crimes, has become “mass incarceration”: a destabilizing force that undermines the families and communities it targets, damaging the very social structures that prevent crime.

Further information can be found at

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