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The cost of incarceration
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Prison gerrymandering

New York has an incarceration rate of 376 per 100,000 people (including prisons, jails, immigration detention, and juvenile justice facilities), meaning that it locks up a higher percentage of its people than almost any democracy on earth. Read on to learn more about who is incarcerated in New York and why.

59,000 people from New York are behind bars

Pie chart showing that 92,000 New York residents are locked up in federal prisons, state prisons, local jails and other types of facilities

Additionally, the number of people impacted by county and city jails in New York is much larger than the graph above would suggest, because people cycle through local jails relatively quickly. Each year, at least 267,000 different people are booked into local jails in New York.

Using 2020 census data, we looked at where people in New York prisons come from. We found they come from all corners of the state, but disproportionately Upstate and traditionally under-resourced communities.

Rates of imprisonment have grown dramatically in the last 40 years

graph showing the number of people in state prison and local jails per 100,000 residents in New York from 1978 to 2015 Also see these New York graphs:

Graph showing the number of people in New York jails who were convicted and the number who were unconvicted, for the years 1978, 1983, 1988, 1993, 1999, 2005, and 2013.

Today, New York’s incarceration rates stand out internationally

graphic comparing the incarceration rates of the founding NATO members with the incarceration rates of the United States and the state of New York. The incarceration rate of 664 per 100,000 for the United States and 376 for New York is much higher than any of the founding NATO members In the U.S., incarceration extends beyond prisons and local jails to include other systems of confinement. The U.S. and state incarceration rates in this graph include people held by these other parts of the justice system, so they may be slightly higher than the commonly reported incarceration rates that only include prisons and jails. Details on the data are available in States of Incarceration: The Global Context. We also have a version of this graph focusing on the incarceration of women.

People of color are overrepresented in prisons and jails

2021 graph showing incarceration rates per 100,000 people of various racial and ethnic groups in New York

racial and ethnic disparities between the prison/jail and general population in NY as of 2021

New York's criminal justice system is more than just its prisons and jails

Pie chart showing that 231,000 New York residents are in various types of correctional facilities or under criminal justice supervision on probation or parole

The high cost of being incarcerated in New York

Prisons and jails in New York are increasingly shifting the cost of incarceration to people behind bars and their families, hiding the true economic costs of mass incarceration:

Our other articles about New York

Other resources

Data on COVID-19 in New York jails and prisons

We gave New York a failing grade in September 2021 for its response to the coronavirus in prisons, noting that:

  • New York released fewer people on parole in 2020 than they had in 2019, and approved a smaller percent of parole applications.
  • New York was one of 15 prison systems that — as of September 2021 — had not yet vaccinated more than 60% of the incarcerated population.

For more detail, see our September 2021 report States of Emergency.

More resources about New York prisons and COVID-19:

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