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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
Distribution of annual pre-incarceration incomes for people unable to meet bail and non-incarcerated people, 2015 dollars, 23-39 years old

Data Source: Compiled by the Prison Policy Initiative from the Bureau of Justice Statistics Survey of Inmates in Local Jails (2002), the American Community Survey Integrated Public Use Microdata Series (2002), adjusted for inflation to 2015 dollars. See methodology in the full report. (Graph: Bernadette Rabuy & Daniel Kopf, 2016)

This graph originally appeared in Detaining the Poor: How money bail perpetuates an endless cycle of poverty and jail time.

People in local jails unable to meet bail are concentrated at the lowest ends of the national income distribution. As this graph shows, 37% had no chance of being able to afford the typical amount of money bail since their annual income is less than the median bail amount.

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