The Prison Index: Taking the Pulse of the Crime Control Industry
10th Anniversary Introduction
Ten years ago, the Prison Policy Initiative and the Western Prison Project set out to compile a reliable and compelling set of statistics about the rapidly growing criminal justice system. In 611 facts and 17 graphs and charts, we gave advocates, journalists and policymakers a view on where the country was, where it had been, and what the future of criminal justice could be.
Since then, despite its age, The Prison Index continues to be one of our most popular and frequently cited parts of our website. We were honored to see Jens Soering write:
“Without The Prison Index, I could not have written my second or third book. This clearly organized and comprehensive volume is the best single reference work available to writers and researchers in the field of corrections.”
We hope to update this book in the future. Our goal is not just to update the numbers — which haven’t drastically changed — but to tell new stories that will help fuel the growing public skepticism of the status quo. The crime control industry was fueled by fear, but today the public is starting to learn that it is better to be “smart on crime” than “tough on crime”.
Until we can produce a new edition, we offer this book, and its footnotes, to the world.
—Peter Wagner, April 2013
Section I: Crime & Punishment in the U.S. Crime & Public Perception
- Public perception and the crime rate
- Police and public confidence
- Crime: Victims of Crime: Who is at greatest risk?
- Murder: When the murder rate goes up; When the murder rate goes down a little; And when the murder rate goes down a lot; Murder and the death penalty
- The Roots of Crime? Guns; Drug and alcohol addiction; Education; Do prisons cause more crime?
- Juveniles and the Criminal Justice System
- Death Penalty: Death row demographics; Innocence and the death penalty; Dollars and death
Section II: Incarceration & Its Consequences
- Penal Control in the U.S. Incarceration in the U.S.; Federal prisons
- Variation of Incarceration Rates in the States: Incarceration in New York; Incarceration in Texas; What do we think prisons do?
- America’s Prisoners: Who is in prison?; What crimes did they commit?; Who gets sent to prison?; Race
- Behind the Walls: Let them eat…; Prisoner health; Older prisoners; Education programs in prison
- Families of Prisoners: A recidivism study on the impact of visits
- Disenfranchisement: Changing elections; Election 2000
Section III: The Prison Economy
- Crime Control & the Economy
- Budget Priorities: Education vs. Incarceration
- The Prison Industry: Captive consumers; Employment; Construction; Where are prisons built?; California’s prison economy
- Private Prisons: Safety first?
- Prison Labor: Prison labor in the federal prisons; Prison labor in the states
- Prisoners & the Census
Section IV: Global Comparisons Crime and incarceration around the world
- Finland: Crime control & decarceration
- U.S. vs. South Africa