About the Prison Policy Initiative

The non-profit, non-partisan Prison Policy Initiative produces cutting edge research to expose the broader harm of mass criminalization, and then sparks advocacy campaigns to create a more just society.


WHO WE ARE

The Prison Policy Initiative was founded in 2001 to document and publicize how mass criminalization undermines our national welfare. Through groundbreaking research, innovative media work, and cross-sector organizing, the Prison Policy Initiative is changing the debate about the U.S. criminal justice system. Our team has grown to four dedicated staff members who, a long with student interns and volunteers, shape national reform campaigns from our office in Western Massachusetts.

OUR MISSION

The Prison Policy Initiative challenges over-criminalization and mass incarceration through research, advocacy, and organizing. We show how the United States’ excessive and unequal use of punishment and institutional control harms individuals and undermines our communities and national well-being.


WHAT WE DO

The Prison Policy Initiative fuels the movement against mass incarceration with critically needed insights and data like our National Incarceration Briefing Series and 50 state profiles. We empower grassroots groups, journalists and policymakers to fully engage in and propel criminal justice reform with our research clearinghouse and our powerful visual data.

Our first campaign was born in 2001 when our co-founders discovered that the sheer size of the prison population was combining with an outdated Census Bureau rule to undermine electoral fairness. All of our campaigns expose and lessen mass incarceration’s harm on our communities:

  • End prison gerrymandering.  The Census Bureau's practice of counting two million incarcerated people in the wrong place encourages state and local governments to dilute the votes of everyone who doesn’t live next to a large prison. Our national movement to end the practice is growing stronger daily.
  • Bring fairness to the prison and jail phone industry.  Some children have to pay $1/minute for a call home from an incarcerated parent. Why? Because prisons benefit by granting telephone contracts to the company that will charge families the most.
  • Protect family visits from the video visitation industry. All too often, county jails replace traditional in-person visits with expensive video chats and grainy computer images.
  • Protect letters from home in local jails.  A growing number of sheriffs are experimenting with a harmful idea: banning letters from loved ones.
  • Abolish ineffective and unfair sentencing enhancement zones.  These zones blanket urban areas in mandatory increased sentencing areas, disproportionately punishing people of color and failing to protect children.

Quote from Pete Brook: “PPI is one of the most imaginative research groups illuminating the dark recesses of our carceral landscape.”


thumbnails of Prison Policy Initiative annual report for 2012-2013 Annual Reports



Selected Awards

  • David Carliner Public Interest Award, American Constitution Society, 2014
  • Champion of State Criminal Justice Reform Award, National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, 2013
  • Finalist, Maria Leavey Tribute Award, Campaign for America‚Äôs Future, 2012

Videos about us and our work



Financial and tax information

Meet us

  • April 22, 2015:
    Executive Director Peter Wagner will be at Colby College in Waterville Maine to speak about “The Geography of punishment: Reflections on inequity in mass incarceration” at 7pm.
  • April 28, 2015:
    Policy & Communications Associate Bernadette Rabuy will be attending the Smith College Student Government Association’s Hampshire County Criminal Justice Meet and Greet on Tuesday, April 28 from 5-7pm at the Carroll Room at Smith College Campus Center.
  • May 11, 2015:
    Peter Wagner and Bernadette Rabuy will be in NYC for the book launch party for Jason Stanley’s How Propaganda Works at 67 Orange. The party — and the royalties from the book — are to benefit the Prison Policy Initiative.

Not near you?
Invite us to your city, college or organization.

Events

  • April 22, 2015:
    Executive Director Peter Wagner will be at Colby College in Waterville Maine to speak about “The Geography of punishment: Reflections on inequity in mass incarceration” at 7pm.
  • April 28, 2015:
    Policy & Communications Associate Bernadette Rabuy will be attending the Smith College Student Government Association’s Hampshire County Criminal Justice Meet and Greet on Tuesday, April 28 from 5-7pm at the Carroll Room at Smith College Campus Center.
  • May 11, 2015:
    Peter Wagner and Bernadette Rabuy will be in NYC for the book launch party for Jason Stanley’s How Propaganda Works at 67 Orange. The party — and the royalties from the book — are to benefit the Prison Policy Initiative.

Not near you?
Invite us to your city, college or organization.

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