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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
graph showing the portion of the prison and household populations that have 'below basic' or 'basic' literacy for the three types of literacy. In all measures, people in prison have score worse.

Data Source: Prison Policy Initiative analysis of the U.S. Department of Education National Assessment of Adult Literacy (NAAL) Survey, 2003. (Graph: Corey Michon, 2016)

This graph originally appeared in Uncovering Mass Incarceration’s Literacy Disparity.

People in prison are 13 to 24 percent more represented in the lowest levels of literacy than people in the free world. The smallest disparity is for prose literacy, and the largest disparity is for quantitative literacy. (For an explanation of the different types of literacy, and why “basic” literacy is inadequate for our modern society, see the original post).

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