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
Peter Wagner co-founded the Prison Policy Initiative in 2001 to document and publicize how mass incarceration punishes our entire society. Through groundbreaking research, innovative media work, and intersectional organizing, our staff members shape national reform campaigns from our office in Western Massachusetts.
The Prison Policy Initiative is known for delivering big results with a small budget, including:
- 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.
- Uncovering the big picture on mass incarceration with Mass Incarceration: The Whole Pie. This report and visual were the first to assemble data on everyone who is incarcerated or confined in different kinds of prisons, jails, and other correctional and detention facilities in the U.S.
- Protecting our democracy from the undue influence of the prison system. Our campaign against prison gerrymandering has changed how legislative districts are drawn in four states and 200+ municipalities.
- 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 family visits from the predatory video visitation industry that seeks to replace traditional in-person visits with expensive video chats and grainy computer images. We've won in Portland, Oregon and Dallas, Texas, and the Federal Communications Commission is, spurred by our research and advocacy, seeking a national solution.
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.
- Paul H. Chapman Award, Foundation for Improvement of Justice, 2016
- 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’s Future, 2012
- Soros Justice Fellowship, 2003-2005
Videos about us and our work
Financial and tax information