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I co-founded the Prison Policy Initiative to put the problem of mass incarceration — and the perverse incentives that fuel it — on the national agenda. Over the last 16 years, our campaigns have protected our democracy from the prison system and protected the poorest families in this country from the predatory prison telephone industry. Our reports untangle the statistics and recruit new allies.

But now, more than ever, we need your help to put data & compassion into the conversation. Any gift you can make today will be matched by other donors and go twice as far.

Thank you.
—Peter Wagner, Executive DirectorDonate
This graph shows that when release counts are outnumbered by admission counts, the prison population will increase. In 1993, Texas’ releases fell sharply below admissions, causing the state’s total custody population to more than double in five years

Data Source: Compiled by the Prison Policy Initiative from the Bureau of Justice Statistics Corrections Statistical Analysis Tool (CSAT). (Graph: Rachel Gandy, 2015)

This graph originally appeared in Explaining Texas’ overnight prison boom.

Beginning in 1993, the number of releases from Texas prisons fell behind the number of admissions, allowing the state’s total custody population to rise sharply for the next five years. Once release counts rose again to match admission counts, Texas’ total custody population leveled off and remained stagnant. These patterns show that admissions to and releases from prisons serve as at least one driving force behind rapidly changing prison populations.

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