In the 1960s, the United States experienced a notorious crime wave. Liberal theories on crime posited that criminals were inevitable products of oppressive societies and, given the correct resources, virtually all offenders were capable of curtailing their criminal behavior. These attitudes did little to limit criminality and, in fact, crime rates continued to swell into the 1970s.
Then the pendulum swung in the opposite direction. Conservative politicians argued that criminals generally could not be rehabilitated, it was pointless to attempt most treatments, and the only realistic solution was to incapacitate a criminal through the use of incarceration. This was often caricatured as the “lock ‘em up and throw away the key” approach.