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Many of the worst features of mass incarceration — such as racial disparities in prisons — can be traced back to policing. Our research shows that police disproportionately target Black and other marginalized people in stops, arrests, and use of force. We've also explored how police are misused to respond to problems unrelated to public safety, like mental health crises and homelessness.

Below is some of our key research on policing:


Major reports

report thumbnailBuilding exits off the highway to mass incarceration: Diversion programs explained

Diversion program" can refer to a wide variety of initiatives to keep people out of jail. We wrote one report that explains them all. Our report envisions the criminal justice process as a highway, with five major "exits" off the road to incarceration.

report thumbnailArrest, Release, Repeat: How police and jails are misused to respond to social problems

We explain the need to redirect dollars wasted on repeatedly jailing people - who are disproportionately Black, low-income, and have greater health needs - toward community based services that prevent justice-system involvement.

report thumbnailPolicing Women: Race and gender disparities in police stops, searches, and use of force

Women make up a growing share of arrests and report much more use of force than they did 20 years ago, with Black women most likely to be targeted.

report thumbnailFollowing the Money of Mass Incarceration

We estimate that policing criminal law violations costs taxpayers over $63 billion each year.

report thumbnailDoes our county really need a bigger jail? A guide to avoiding unnecessary jail expansion

We lay out questions to ask local leaders about law enforcement practices before green-lighting proposals for jail expansion. We also explain "best practices" to help local officials avoid unnecessary arrests and incarceration.

report thumbnailWhat "Stop-and-Frisk" Really Means: Discrimination & Use of Force

Our analysis of NYPD data on stop-and-frisk shows that the police used physical force in almost a quarter of stops — and that their use of force is also racially discriminatory.


issue thumbnailRace and gender

The justice system's unequal treatment of poor people hits people of color and women the hardest. Our research provides race and gender breakdowns in the criminal justice system.

Research Library

Didn't find what you were looking for? See the Police and Policing section of our Research Library, a curated collection of over 200 academic and policy reports on the subject.

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