HELP US END MASS INCARCERATION
The Prison Policy Initiative uses research, advocacy, and organizing to dismantle mass incarceration. We’ve been in this movement for 20 years, thanks to individual donors like you.
Can you help us sustain this work?
Peter Wagner, Executive Director
Articles by Wanda Bertram
- New resource: Contending with carveouts: how and why to resist charge-based exclusions in reforms
Carveouts dramatically lessen the impact of criminal legal system reforms. In a new tool for advocates, we offer ways to resist carveouts when new reforms are proposed.
Jun 26, 2023
- New report: A blueprint for meaningful probation and parole reform in Connecticut — and other states
As we explained in a report earlier this month, every U.S. state punishes far more people than is remotely necessary, not just with long prison terms but with long....
May 23, 2023
- New report, Women’s Mass Incarceration: The Whole Pie 2023, reveals how many women are locked up in the U.S., where, and why
The report examines the unique challenges women in the criminal legal system face and provides the clearest look at how the pandemic impacted women's incarceration in the U.S.
Mar 1, 2023
- Since You Asked: What’s next for prison and jail phone justice now that the Martha Wright-Reed Just and Reasonable Communications Act is law?
We explain what the new law accomplishes, how the FCC can — and should — enforce it, and why the fight for phone justice is not over.
Jan 19, 2023
- 11 of our most important reports, briefings, and tools in 2022
From a deep dive into the bail industry to new tools for advocates, here are the highlights of our work in 2022.
Dec 21, 2022
- In an election where every vote matters, Georgia officials should ensure registered voters in jails can cast their ballots
Sheriffs and local election officials must do everything in their power to ensure detained individuals can exercise their fundamental right to vote.
Nov 18, 2022
- How journalists can investigate the bail bond industry: Story ideas and tips
Table of Contents Are bail companies actually bringing their clients to court? How much bail owed by companies is not being collected by courts? How is the bail....
Oct 14, 2022
- New report reveals how bail bond companies exploit legal systems to profit while avoiding risk
On top of a bail system that is set up to favor companies over courts, the bail industry has lobbied for several loopholes that make their business virtually risk-free - and highly lucrative.
Oct 4, 2022
- What the end of Roe v. Wade will mean for people on probation and parole
On any given day in the U.S., 666,413 women are on probation or parole.
Jun 30, 2022
- New report, Chronic Punishment, reveals the unmet health needs of people in state prisons
A new report from the Prison Policy Initiative offers the most recent national data on incarcerated people’s health, and shows that U.S. state prisons are continuing to....
Jun 22, 2022
- Prisons and jails will separate millions of mothers from their children in 2022
58% of all women in U.S. prisons are mothers, and other important facts to know this Mother’s Day.
May 4, 2022
- New report, Beyond the Count, uses demographic data to show the social disadvantage of people locked up in state prisons
People in prisons have endured disadvantage and poverty all the way back to childhood, the Prison Policy Initiative's new report shows.
Apr 13, 2022
- New report Mass Incarceration: The Whole Pie 2022 provides the most comprehensive look at U.S. incarceration since the start of the pandemic
The report includes 31 visualizations of criminal justice data, exposing long-standing truths about mass incarceration in the U.S.
Mar 14, 2022
- New data on formerly incarcerated people’s employment reveal labor market injustices
Newly released data doubles down on what we’ve reported before: Formerly incarcerated people face huge obstacles to finding stable employment, leading to detrimental society-wide effects. Considering the current labor market, there may be plenty of jobs available, but they don’t guarantee stability or economic mobility for this vulnerable population.
Feb 8, 2022
- Prison Policy Initiative asks FCC to reject prison phone company’s request for special treatment to peddle “subscription” phone plans
Securus wants the FCC to waive its rules, but won’t disclose important details about how the plans work.
Jan 10, 2022
- 11 of our most important reports of 2021
Some highlights from the six major reports and 40+ short reports we've published this year.
Dec 20, 2021
- The CFPB’s enforcement order against prison profiteer JPay, explained
The company was fined $6 million for exploiting people leaving prison.
Oct 28, 2021
- New data: Wisconsin jails and telecom giants profiting from high phone rates that keep families apart
As people in jail and their families struggle to stay connected during the pandemic, we've collected the data on the exploitative prices families are forced to pay in....
Sep 10, 2021
- The Biden Administration must walk back the MailGuard program banning letters from home in federal prisons
The Bureau of Prisons is considering a heartless, ineffective policy with far-reaching effects.
Jul 29, 2021
- Nine ways that states can provide better public defense
We suggest a few questions to ask to assess the strength of your state's public defense system.
Jul 27, 2021
- Prisons and jails will separate millions of mothers from their children in 2021
The most important statistics about the incarceration of mothers and pregnant women.
May 5, 2021
- With the majority of corrections officers declining the COVID-19 vaccine, incarcerated people are still at serious risk
Low rates of vaccine uptake among correctional staff make it clear that withholding the vaccine from people who are locked up -- or offering it only to a small fraction of the prison population -- is senseless.
Apr 22, 2021
- We’ve saved Iowa consumers $1 million per year on jail phone calls — but there’s more work to do to stop exploitation in Iowa & beyond
We’re fighting for fair phone rates for people in jail and their families, and we just picked up a big victory. We pressured officials in Iowa to regulate the....
Mar 10, 2021
- We list 27 “winnable, high-impact” state legislative reforms that would change the justice system and save lives in 2021
Our new “Winnable Criminal Justice Reforms” report lists 27 policy ideas for state legislators, as well as model bills and links to more information on each policy.
Jan 27, 2021
- More states need to use their “good time” systems to get people out of prison during COVID-19
Most states have statutes that allow incarcerated people to earn time off of their sentences. Why aren't more states using this tool to safely reduce prison populations during COVID-19?
Jan 12, 2021
- New report shows that mass incarceration led to huge increase in national COVID-19 caseloads
The study provides the first estimates of how prisons and jails led to more coronavirus infections, both inside and outside prisons.
Dec 15, 2020
- The promise — and peril — of Biden’s criminal justice reform platform
We discuss Biden's plans for clemency, reentry support, drug courts, and juvenile justice reform.
Nov 13, 2020
- New BJS data reveals a jail-building boom in Indian country
Across the country, local governments are building more jail space rather than working to reduce incarceration. New data shows that this trend is especially visible on tribal lands.
Oct 30, 2020
- New 50-state report from Prison Policy Initiative and Rainbow PUSH Coalition provides a roadmap to normalizing voting from jail
This morning, the Prison Policy Initiative and the Reverend Jesse Jackson, Sr.’s Rainbow PUSH Coalition released Eligible, but Excluded, a roadmap to expanding voting....
Oct 2, 2020
- New Essie Justice Group survey exposes dangerous prison and jail conditions during COVID-19
Survey data collected from people with incarcerated loved ones confirms some of our worst fears about the treatment of people behind bars during the pandemic.
Sep 17, 2020
- Prisons and jails are rolling back free phone and video calls. They should be extending them instead
Amidst a pandemic and recession, policymakers should be fighting for extended — if not permanent — financial relief for incarcerated people and their families.
Sep 11, 2020
- Returning from prison and jail is hard during normal times — it’s even more difficult during COVID-19
We review the evidence and call for state and local governments to provide more support for success upon release from prison or jail.
Sep 2, 2020
- Compassionate release was never designed to release large numbers of people
With help from artist Kevin Pyle, we explain why very few people who apply for compassionate release are approved — even during a pandemic.
May 29, 2020
- Hundreds are still jailed for technical parole violations in NYC, which means decarceration is happening far too slowly
As cities attempt to reduce their jail populations, they should pay attention to the lesson of NYC’s slow decarceration: Even releasing "low-level offenders" is a complicated process liable to be bogged down by delays.
Apr 24, 2020
- New report, Reforms Without Results, lays out the case for including people convicted of violence in criminal justice reforms
The report includes an interactive map showing where people convicted of violence have been "carved out" of recent criminal justice reform laws.
Apr 7, 2020
- As pandemic threatens to devastate prison population, new report provides updated “big picture” view of incarceration in the U.S.
The Prison Policy Initiative's new "Whole Pie" report reveals what's at stake if prisons and jails do not take immediate steps to decarcerate.
Mar 24, 2020
- Jails and prisons are suspending visits to slow COVID-19. Here’s what advocates can do to help people inside.
Send our letter to your local jail, asking them to make video and phone calls free.
Mar 17, 2020
- Prison Policy Initiative releases detailed data on the “geography of incarceration” in New York state, opening doors for future research
The new resource uses data generated by New York’s law ending prison gerrymandering.
Feb 19, 2020
- “What percent of the U.S. is incarcerated?” (And other ways to measure mass incarceration)
Nearly one out of every 100 people in the United States is in a prison or jail.
Jan 16, 2020
- New report, Youth Confinement: The Whole Pie 2019, breaks down where children and teenagers are locked up in the U.S., where, and why
At a time when cutting the adult prison population by 50% seems radical to many people, states have already cut the number of confined youth by 60% since 2000.
Dec 19, 2019
- New report: State-level criminal justice reforms that can win in 2020
We list 24 high-impact policy ideas for state legislators looking to reform their criminal justice systems.
Dec 12, 2019
- The law is supposed to protect consumers from exploitation, but it’s not protecting people in prisons and jails
When the only way to get necessities in prison is to buy them from a single retailer, exploitation is the result.
Nov 14, 2019
- New report, Women’s Mass Incarceration: The Whole Pie 2019, reveals how many women are locked up in the U.S., where, and why
The report highlights the need for reforms to local jails, which now hold more women than state prisons do.
Oct 29, 2019
- How many people in your state go to local jails every year?
New data shows that local jails impact more people in your state than you may think.
Sep 18, 2019
- New report, Arrest, Release, Repeat, reveals how many people go to jail each year and how many times they go
Our analysis reveals that at least 4.9 million people cycle through county jails each year - and most have serious medical and economic needs.
Aug 26, 2019
- Momentum is building to end medical co-pays in prisons and jails
Three states have taken action in 2019 to change one of the most harmful policies in prison healthcare.
Aug 8, 2019
- Testifying before Congress about the mass incarceration of women
"Women’s experiences with the criminal justice system serve to highlight the faults of the whole system," our Legal Director explained to members of the House Judiciary Committee.
Jul 17, 2019
- Why haven’t presidential candidates proposed to end the criminalization of poverty?
The Democratic candidates are missing an opportunity to pitch sweeping criminal justice reform as an economic justice issue.
Jun 12, 2019
- New report, Does our county really need a bigger jail?, helps counties avoid needless jail growth
All too often, proposals to expand local jails receive no pushback or critical attention. A new report helps counties think twice.
May 6, 2019
- Victory for phone justice: Securus and ICSolutions abandon attempted merger
A merger between the two companies would have curtailed the ability of prisons and jails to choose a phone provider, to the detriment of incarcerated people and their families.
Apr 2, 2019
- New report, Mass Incarceration: The Whole Pie 2019, provides annual “big picture” view of confinement in the U.S. with 7 new infographics
With this year's updated edition of Mass Incarceration: The Whole Pie, we once again answer the essential questions of how many people are locked up, where, and why.
Mar 19, 2019
- More states are signing harmful “free prison tablet” contracts
Tablet computers are delivering a captive audience to profit-seeking companies, while enabling prisons to cut essential services like law libraries. We investigate.
Mar 7, 2019
- New report uncovers the cost of phone calls in over 2,000 locally-run jails across the U.S.
The movement for phone justice has won huge victories in state-run prisons, but people in jail pretrial are on the front lines of exploitation.
Feb 11, 2019
- New report ranks states on “correctional control,” showing huge state disparities in use of probation
When it comes to ranking U.S. states on the harshness of their criminal justice systems, incarceration rates only tell half of the story. 4.5 million people nationwide....
Dec 11, 2018
- New report: The eight most efficient ways to shorten long prison sentences
Clemency isn't the only way for governors and legislators to show mercy. Our report provides a roadmap with several options.
Nov 15, 2018
- New report, Women’s Mass Incarceration: The Whole Pie 2018, reveals how many women are locked up in the U.S., where, and why
The report includes a new, data-rich visualization of women in jails, highlighting a critical area for criminal justice reform.
Nov 13, 2018
- Criminal justice reform at the ballot box: Even County Auditors are worth your attention
In some counties - like Multnomah County, Oregon - auditors are joining the movement to hold jails accountable.
Oct 31, 2018
- New report, Getting Back on Course, shows that prison permanently hinders education
Our criminal justice system isn’t just sending people from school to prison – it’s locking them out of education altogether.
Oct 30, 2018
- Philadelphia Inquirer exposes Pennsylvania’s complicity in cutting off incarcerated people’s access to books
The Pennsylvania DOC introduces a telecom company to a large, captive market for e-books.
Sep 21, 2018
- New report, Nowhere to Go, breaks down the housing crisis among formerly incarcerated people
A stable home is all but required for successful reentry. How many formerly incarcerated people are locked out of housing?
Aug 14, 2018
- Victoria Law on Marketplace: How email services in prison exploit incarcerated people
As our research as shown, companies like JPay gouge people who are already overcharged and underpaid.
Aug 8, 2018
- The Idaho prison tablets “hack” is a lesson in how to cover the prison business
Stories about prison tablets are becoming more common. We offer tips to newsrooms for covering this issue fairly.
Aug 2, 2018
- How to spot the hidden costs in a “no-cost” tablet contract
There's no such thing as a free lunch - or a free tablet.
Jul 24, 2018
- New report, Out of Prison & Out of Work, calculates the first unemployment rate for formerly incarcerated people
Formerly incarcerated people overwhelmingly want to work, but they face huge obstacles in the job market.
Jul 10, 2018
- New report, The Company Store, questions fairness and purpose of prison commissaries
In a first-of-its-kind data analysis, we explore the economics of prison commissaries in three states.
May 24, 2018
- Jail will separate 2.3 million mothers from their children this year
80% of the women jailed each year are mothers. We're inflicting profound damage not only on them, but their children as well.
May 13, 2018
- New reports show probation is down, but still a major driver of incarceration
New data and analysis from BJS and Columbia University this week show the number of people on probation or parole is edging in the right direction, but states continue to set people up to fail with long supervision terms, onerous restrictions, and constant scrutiny.
Apr 26, 2018
- State-level studies identify causes of the national “gender divide”
Our January report showed how incarcerated women are being left behind, but to identify specific areas for improvement, state-level research is needed.
Apr 11, 2018
- New research ends the “Is it race or class?” debate about mass incarceration
Racial biases in the criminal justice system don't only apply to poor people, according to research from Harvard, Stanford, and the Census Bureau.
Mar 19, 2018
- New Report, Mass Incarceration: The Whole Pie 2018, pieces together systems of confinement and provides 11 new infographics
With this year's updated edition of Mass Incarceration: The Whole Pie, we once again answer the essential questions of how many people are locked up, where, and why.
Mar 14, 2018
- Video: Why states should stop punishing safe drivers for offenses unrelated to driving
At under two minutes, this is the shortest and sweetest version of our argument against license suspensions for drug offenses.
Mar 6, 2018
- New report, Youth Confinement: The Whole Pie, breaks down where youth are locked up in the U.S. and why
In a series of graphics, we explain how tens of thousands of youth who could be better served in their communities still end up in confinement.
Feb 27, 2018
- Pennsylvania may finally lift the burden of needless driver’s license suspensions
The push to end driver’s license suspensions for drug offenses is picking up steam in Pennsylvania.
Jan 24, 2018
- If you’ve got a minute to think about civil liberties, here’s how to spend it.
We share our favorite recent episodes of Bill Newman's excellent podcast, each just over a minute long and covering a current threat to civil liberties.
Jan 22, 2018
- Our Young Professionals Network, in the words of one volunteer
One of our most dedicated volunteers shares the highlights of his experience.
Jan 22, 2018
- New report, The Gender Divide, identifies state gender disparities in prisons
Women’s prison populations are largely growing faster than men’s. See our 50-state analysis.
Jan 9, 2018
- Our favorite criminal justice research of 2017
Useful and under-exposed research from 2017 that contributed to our movement's understanding of key issues in criminal justice.
Dec 28, 2017
- Our favorite investigative criminal justice reporting of 2017
Investigative reporters are illuminating little-known facets of the criminal justice system. We share our favorite work from 2017.
Dec 28, 2017
- Help us tell the whole story of mass incarceration
Can you support our work this Giving Tuesday?
Nov 28, 2017