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Peter Wagner, Executive Director
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Incarceration in the U.S.: The big picture    Tweet this

Very little data exists about how many people are locked up in U.S. prisons and jails (much less on parole and probation). So the Prison Policy Initiative collects and presents the data that does exist, in order to illustrate the unprecedented size and reach of our criminal justice system:


Mass Incarceration: The Whole Pie 2020

Our report and comprehensive graphic provide the big picture: 2.3 million people are locked up in more than 6,000 correctional facilities operated by thousands of agencies. We break down how many people are incarcerated in the U.S., where, and why - highlighting causes of incarceration that get too little attention as well as incarceration "myths" that receive too much.


State-by-State Incarceration Rates by Race/Ethnicity

When the federal Bureau of Justice Statistics stopped publishing state-level information about racial disparities in incarceration, we used our familiarity with U.S. Census data to chart racial disparities in incarceration, including data for every state. We expect to post updated graphs in 2021, after 2020 Census data is released.



States of Incarceration: The Global Context 2018

This report and infographic directly situate individual U.S. states in the global context, revealing that every region in the U.S. is out of step with the rest of the world when it comes to incarceration. We also have a companion report focused on the incarceration of women.


The "bigger picture": our other research, organized by topic

We've published highly-readable reports on issues including exploitation in the criminal justice system, how many women and youth are in prison, people's experiences on probation and parole, and much more. See our research on:


Data for every state:



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