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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 17 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

National Incarceration Briefing Series   

Our research helps the public understand that mass incarceration is both unprecedented and counterproductive.

report thumbnailMass Incarceration: The Whole Pie 2018

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. The "whole pie" gives the public and policymakers the foundation to now consider the types of changes that would end the country's reign as the number one incarcerator in the world.


report thumbnailStates 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.


report thumbnailYouth Confinement: The Whole Pie

Our new report and chart offer a snapshot of where youth are confined in the U.S. and why - including those held in the most restrictive facilities. We explain how tens of thousands of youths who could be better served in their communities still end up in confinement.


report thumbnailWomen's Mass Incarceration: The Whole Pie 2017

Our report uncovers where and why women fall under the control of our local, state, and federal systems. For the first time, we use our "whole pie" approach to give the public and policymakers the foundation to end mass incarceration without leaving women behind.


report thumbnailThe Gender Divide: Tracking women's state prison growth

Our report breaks down women’s incarceration trends in state prisons for all 50 states since 1978, and identifies states where recent criminal justice reforms have left women behind. All too often, treating women’s incarceration as an afterthought holds back state efforts to decarcerate.


report thumbnailEra of Mass Expansion: Why State Officials Should Fight Jail Growth

Our report looks at state trends to explain jail growth, and uncovers unique state problems that drive mass incarceration. Featuring more than 150 state-level graphs and state-by-state comparisons, the report explores the dramatic increase in pre-trial detention and the rising number of jail cells rented for profit to other authorities.


report thumbnailFollowing the Money of Mass Incarceration

In a first-of-its-kind report, we aggregate the economic data to offer the big picture view of who pays for and who benefits from mass incarceration.


report thumbnailCorrectional Control: Incarceration and supervision by state

Prison is just one piece of the correctional pie. Our report, interactive graphic, and 100+ pie charts for each state and D.C. provide breakdowns of the criminal justice system in each state.


report thumbnailTracking State Prison Growth in 50 States

State — not federal — policy is driving mass incarceration, but each state is charting its own course. This report includes 100+ graphs showing the rise (and occasional decline) of the incarceration rate in every state.


report thumbnail Breaking Down Mass Incarceration in the 2010 Census: State-by-State Incarceration Rates by Race/Ethnicity

Racial and ethnic disparities are an unacceptable but defining characteristic of our prison system, yet in 2006 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 with 200+ graphs.


report thumbnailDetaining the Poor: How money bail perpetuates an endless cycle of poverty and jail time

With data scientist Daniel Kopf, we find that the ability to pay money bail is impossible for too many defendants because it represents eight months of a typical defendant's income.


report thumbnailPrisons of Poverty: Uncovering the pre-incarceration incomes of the imprisoned

With data scientist Daniel Kopf, we uncover the data to show that even before their incarceration, the people in prison are much poorer than Americans of similar ages.


report thumbnailSeparation by Bars and Miles: Visitation in state prisons

With data scientist Daniel Kopf, we find that extreme distances between prisons and the places that incarcerated people call home actively discourage family visits.


report thumbnailThe Racial Geography of Mass Incarceration

Racial and ethnic disparities are an unacceptable but defining characteristic of our prison system, and here we unlock part of the answer to why African-Americans and Latinos fill the prisons while Whites get the jobs running the prisons: the prisons are disproportionately built in White areas.


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