Shut out and locked up: New report provides the pre-incarceration incomes of the imprisoned

July 9, 2015


Bernadette Rabuy
(413) 527-0845

report thumbnailEasthampton, MA — Incarcerated people are disproportionately shut out of the economy even before they are locked up, demonstrates a new report by the non-profit Prison Policy Initiative.

“I was shocked to discover late last year that the most commonly cited source for the fact that incarcerated people are poor was decades old,” said Bernadette Rabuy, who recently published a report about the exploitative video visitation industry that works to supplant traditional in-person family visits in jails with expensive $1/minute video chats.

“All too often in criminal justice, the data we need doesn’t exist, but here the data was hiding in plain sight. The federal government collects the pre-incarceration incomes of incarcerated people in a periodic survey, but this data wasn’t being used,” said Rabuy who partnered with data scientist Daniel Kopf to decode the data and put it into context.

The report includes the pre-incarceration incomes of incarcerated people by race, ethnicity, and gender and provides comparisons to the incomes of similarly aged non-incarcerated people. The report updates the most commonly used numbers for the incomes of incarcerated people and for the first time provides national data on the pre-incarceration incomes of incarcerated women.

The report, Prisons of Poverty: Uncovering the pre-incarceration incomes of the imprisoned, is available at


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