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.


OUR ROLE IN THE MOVEMENT

The Prison Policy Initiative’s research and advocacy is at the center of the national conversation about criminal justice reform and over-criminalization. Because essential national and state level data is often completely inaccessible, the Prison Policy Initiative’s insightful data analysis and powerful graphics help fill these gaps to bring in new supporters and help other movement leaders achieve their goals.


WHO WE ARE

Peter Wagner co-founded the Prison Policy Initiative in 2001 to document and publicize how mass incarceration punishes our entire society. Our staff members shape national reform campaigns from our office in Western Massachusetts.


OUR BIGGEST VICTORIES

The Prison Policy Initiative is known for delivering big results with a small budget, including:

  • Empowering our movement with the big picture with Mass Incarceration: The Whole Pie. This ground-breaking report assembles data on everyone who is incarcerated or confined in different kinds of prisons, jails, and other correctional and detention facilities in the U.S. The main graphic has become the most widely-used visual in the field.
  • Giving advocates in every state — even those with relatively progressive policies — the message, data and visuals they need to show that their state’s use of incarceration is out of line with the international community.
  • Bringing fairness to the prison and jail phone industry. Some children had to pay $1/minute for a call home from an incarcerated parent. Our research and advocacy led the Federal Communications Commission to lower the cost of calls home from prisons and jails.
  • Demonstrating that incarceration in every state — even those with relatively progressive policies — is out of line with the international community with the report and interactive graphic States of Incarceration: The Global Context.
  • Protecting our democracy from the undue influence of the prison system. Our campaign against prison gerrymandering has changed how legislative districts are drawn in nine states and 200+ municipalities.
  • Protecting family visits from the predatory video call industry that seeks to replace traditional in-person visits with expensive video chats. We've put this predatory industry on the national agenda and we've won in Massachusetts, California, Texas, Illinois, and Portland, Oregon.
  • When the federal government stopped publishing state-level racial disparity data for prisons and jails in 2006, we found a way to fill that gap and give state-advocates the data they need to hold their state accountable.




thumbnails of Prison Policy Initiative annual report for 2018-2019 Annual Reports



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