Beyond the 2.3 million people in the U.S. who are incarcerated, tens of millions more are dealing with the "collateral consequences" of punishment. Many cannot vote or get a driver's license, face barriers to employment, and are prohibited from living with the families who want them back — all because they have a criminal record.
To end mass incarceration, we'll need to undo the policies that make people with criminal records — and formerly incarcerated people most of all — second-class citizens. Below is our key research uncovering the collateral consequences of criminal punishment:
Our analysis shows that formerly incarcerated people are unemployed at a rate of over 27% — higher than the total U.S. unemployment rate during any historical period. We also break down this data by race and gender.
We find that people who have been to prison are 10 times more likely to be homeless, and also likely to be in precarious housing situations close to homelessness. Our report includes policy recommendations for solving this housing crisis.
Our report finds that incarcerated people rarely get the chance to make up the education they've missed, impacting their ability to find work after prison.
10 states automatically suspend the driver's licenses of people who commit drug offenses unrelated to driving.
Our analysis finds that Massachusetts' poorest communities are hit hardest by monthly probation fees, which are rooted in harsh, "tough on crime" 1980s rhetoric and make little sense for the state today.
In 2000, Massachusetts amended its constitution to deny incarcerated people the right to vote. We provided the first analysis of how many people lost their right to vote and the racial disparity inherent in this regressive law.
Prisons and jails hurt public health: Not only do incarcerated people suffer from the low quality and high cost of care; in the long term, the communities they return to after they’re released suffer as well.
Community supervision programs have their own collateral consequences, such as burdensome fees and other restrictions that make it hard to lead a normal life.
The way that the Census Bureau counts people in prison leads to a dramatic distortion of representation at local and state levels, and creates an inaccurate picture of communities for research and planning purposes.
Didn't find what you were looking for? We also curate a database of virtually all the empirical criminal justice research available online. See the sections of our Research Library on recidivism and reentry, felon disenfranchisement, education, and community impact.