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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.

Murder

  • Percent of all murders and non-negligent manslaughters in 1999 where the victim-killer relationship was that of strangers92: 11.89%
  • Number of murders and non-negligent manslaughters of White females per 100,000 population, 199893: 2.2
  • Number of murders and non-negligent manslaughters of White males per 100,000 population, 199894: 6.1
  • Number of murders and non-negligent manslaughters of African-American females per 100,000 population, 199895: 8.6
  • Number of murders and non-negligent manslaughters of African-American males per 100,000 population, 199896: 42.1
African-American males are 19 times more likely to be the victims of murder than white females

When the murder rate goes up...

  • Murder rate per 100,000, 197697: 8.8
  • Murder rate per 100,000, 197998: 9.7
  • Increase in number of state and federal prisoners, 1976-197999: 38,637

When the murder rate goes down a little...

  • Murder rate per 100,000, 1980100: 10.2
  • Murder rate per 100,000, 1985101: 7.9
  • Murder rate per 100,000, 1989102: 8.7
  • Increase in number of state and federal prisoners, 1980-1985103: 164,594
  • Increase in number of state and federal prisoners, 1985-1989104: 200,339

And when the murder rates goes down a lot...

  • Murder rate per 100,000, 1991105: 9.8
  • Murder rate per 100,000, 1995106: 8.2
  • Murder rate per 100,000, 1999107: 5.7
  • Increase in number of state and federal prisoners, 1991-1995108: 295,412
  • Increase in number of state and federal prisoners, 1995-1999109: 219,052

Murder & the death penalty

  • Percent of public stating the death penalty should be the penalty for murder, 2001110: 57%
  • Percentage point increase in support for the death penalty for murder since 1985111: 1%
  • Number of murders and non-negligent manslaughters in 1999112: 15,530
  • Number of persons sentenced to death in 1999113: 282
  • Number of executions, 1999114: 98
  • Number of people removed in 1999 from death row by dismissal of indictment, reversal of judgment, commutation, re-sentencing, order of new trial or death115: 122
  • Ratio of death sentences to murders, 1999116: 1 to 55
  • Ratio of executions to murders, 1999117: 1 to 158

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

92 Calculation based on Bureau of Justice Statistics, Sourcebook of Criminal Justice Statistics, 2000, Table 3.141.

93 Statistical Abstract of the United States: 2001, The National Data Book, Table 115.

94 Statistical Abstract of the United States: 2001, The National Data Book, Table 115.

95 Statistical Abstract of the United States: 2001, The National Data Book, Table 115.

96 Statistical Abstract of the United States: 2001, The National Data Book, Table 115.

97 Bureau of Justice Statistics, Sourcebook of Criminal Justice Statistics, 2000, Table 3.146

98 Bureau of Justice Statistics, Sourcebook of Criminal Justice Statistics, 2000, Table 3.146

99 Calculation, Bureau of Justice Statistics, Sourcebook of Criminal Justice Statistics, 2000, Table 6.27

100 Bureau of Justice Statistics, Sourcebook of Criminal Justice Statistics, 2000, Table 3.146

101 Bureau of Justice Statistics, Sourcebook of Criminal Justice Statistics, 2000, Table 3.146

102 Bureau of Justice Statistics, Sourcebook of Criminal Justice Statistics, 2000, Table 3.146

103 Calculation, Bureau of Justice Statistics, Sourcebook of Criminal Justice Statistics, 2000, Table 6.27

104 Calculation, Bureau of Justice Statistics, Sourcebook of Criminal Justice Statistics, 2000, Table 6.27

105 Bureau of Justice Statistics, Sourcebook of Criminal Justice Statistics, 2000, Table 3.146

106 Bureau of Justice Statistics, Sourcebook of Criminal Justice Statistics, 2000, Table 3.146

107 Bureau of Justice Statistics, Sourcebook of Criminal Justice Statistics, 2000, Table 3.146

108 Calculation, Bureau of Justice Statistics, Sourcebook of Criminal Justice Statistics, 2000, Table 6.27

109 Calculation, Bureau of Justice Statistics, Sourcebook of Criminal Justice Statistics, 2000, Table 6.27

110 Bureau of Justice Statistics, Sourcebook of Criminal Justice Statistics, 2000, Table 2.59.

111 Bureau of Justice Statistics, Sourcebook of Criminal Justice Statistics, 2000, Table 2.59.

112 Bureau of Justice Statistics, Sourcebook of Criminal Justice Statistics, 2000, Table 6.79.

113 Bureau of Justice Statistics, Capital Punishment 2001, p. 13.

114 Bureau of Justice Statistics, Sourcebook of Criminal Justice Statistics, 2000, Table 6.79.

115 Bureau of Justice Statistics, Sourcebook of Criminal Justice Statistics, 2000, Table 6.79.

116 Calculation, Bureau of Justice Statistics, Sourcebook of Criminal Justice Statistics, 2000, Table 6.79.

117 Calculation, Bureau of Justice Statistics, Sourcebook of Criminal Justice Statistics, 2000, Table 6.79. and Bureau of Justice Statistics, Capital Punishment 2001, p. 13

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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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