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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.

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—Peter Wagner, Executive DirectorDonate

Section I: Crime & Punishment in the U.S.

Juveniles & the Criminal Justice System

  • Percent of juveniles taken into police custody, handled within department and released, 1971161: 45.0%
  • Percent of juveniles taken into police custody, handled within department and released, 1999162: 22.5%
  • Percent of juveniles taken into police custody and referred to criminal or adult court, 1971163: 1.3%
  • Percent of juveniles taken into police custody and referred to criminal or adult court, 1999164: 6.4%
  • Number of states where defendants aged 16 or older are automatically handled by the adult criminal system165: 3
  • Number of states where defendants aged 17 or older are automatically handled by the adult criminal system166: 10
  • Number of states that allow at least some defendants under 18 to be handled by the adult criminal system167: 50
Of the juveniles in adult prisons, 60% are African American and 19% are White.
  • Number of persons under 18 held in State adult prisons, 1997168: 5,400
  • Number of persons under 18 held in local jails, 1997169: 9,100
  • Number of persons under 18 held in juvenile facilities, 1997170: 86,010
  • Percent of state prisoners over 18 who are African-American171: 46%
  • Percent of state prisoners under 18 who are African-American172: 60%
  • Mean sentence to be served by persons under 18 sentenced to a state prison, in months173: 44-82
  • Percent of released prisoners who were sentenced to an adult prison before they were 18 who are released without a 9th grade education174: 26%
  • Percent of released prisoners who were sentenced to an adult prison before they were 18 who are later released without a high school diploma or GED175: 90%

This page is an excerpt from The Prison Index: Taking the Pulse of the Crime Control Industry (April 2003) by Peter Wagner, published by the Western Prison Project and the Prison Policy Initiative.

Footnotes

161 Bureau of Justice Statistics, Sourcebook of Criminal Justice Statistics, 2000,Table 4.26.

162 Bureau of Justice Statistics, Sourcebook of Criminal Justice Statistics, 2000, Table 4.26.

163 Bureau of Justice Statistics, Sourcebook of Criminal Justice Statistics, 2000, Table 4.26.

164 Bureau of Justice Statistics, Sourcebook of Criminal Justice Statistics, 2000, Table 4.26.

165 Bureau of Justice Statistics, Profile of State Prisoners Under Age 18, 1985-97,p.1.

166 Bureau of Justice Statistics, Profile of State Prisoners Under Age 18, 1985-97, p. 1.

167 Bureau of Justice Statistics, Profile of State Prisoners Under Age 18, 1985-97, p. 1.

168 Bureau of Justice Statistics, Profile of State Prisoners Under Age 18, 1985-97, p. 1.

169 Bureau of Justice Statistics, Profile of State Prisoners Under Age 18, 1985-97, p. 2.

170 Bureau of Justice Statistics, Profile of State Prisoners Under Age 18, 1985-97, p. 2.

171 Bureau of Justice Statistics, Profile of State Prisoners Under Age 18, 1985-97, p. 3.

172 Bureau of Justice Statistics, Profile of State Prisoners Under Age 18, 1985-97, p. 1.

173 Bureau of Justice Statistics, Profile of State Prisoners Under Age 18, 1985-97, p. 7.

174 Bureau of Justice Statistics, Profile of State Prisoners Under Age 18, 1985-97, p. 8.

175 Bureau of Justice Statistics, Profile of State Prisoners Under Age 18, 1985-97, p. 8.

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Events

  • November 29, 2017:
    Legal Director Aleks Kajstura will be in DC speaking at the congressional Democratic Women’s Working Group dinner about women’s mass incarceration.

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