Research Library:

Our mission is to empower activists, journalists, and policymakers to shape effective criminal justice policy, so we go beyond our original reports and analyses to curate a database of virtually all the empirical criminal justice research available online.

Tips: If you know what you are looking for, you may also search the database. We also have an email newsletter (at right)(at bottom) for new research library updates.


Enter one word from the title, author or topic to search the library:

Advanced search options or view entire database by the date added.


Some of the most recently added reports are:

Friday, January 17 2020:

  • Winnable criminal justice reforms: A Prison Policy Initiative briefing on promising state reform issues for 2020, Prison Policy Initiative. 2015. "https://static.prisonpolicy.org/reports/winnable2020.pdf"
  • Top Trends in State Criminal Justice Reform, 2019 Sentencing Project. January, 2020. "In recent years most states have enacted reforms designed to reduce the scale of incarceration and the impact of the collateral consequences of a felony conviction."
  • Suicide in North Carolina Jails: High Suicide and Overdose Rates Require Urgent Jail Reform Action, Disability Rights North Carolina. October, 2019. "Jail deaths by overdose nearly tripled between 2017 and 2018, increasing by 175%"
  • Snapping Back: Food Stamp Bans and Criminal Recidivism, Cody Tuttle. May, 2019. "This paper provides evidence that denying drug offenders SNAP benefits has increased their likelihood of recidivism."
  • Housing Not Handcuffs: Ending the Criminalization of Homelessness in U.S. Cities, National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty. December, 2019. "Over the past thirteen years, there has been a dramatic increase in criminalization laws, yet access to affordable housing grows ever more elusive."
  • Testifying while black: An experimental study of court reporter accuracy in transcription of African American English, Taylor Jones, Jessica Rose Kalbfeld, Ryan Hancock, and Robin Clark. 2019. "Here, we demonstrate that Philadelphia court reporters consistently fail to meet this level of transcription accuracy when confronted with mundane examples of spoken African American English."
  • Measuring Change: From Rates of Recidivism to Markers of Desistance, Cecelia M. Klingele. 2019. "This Article suggests that, however popular, recidivism alone is a poor metric for gauging the success of criminal justice interventions or of those who participate in them."
  • We All Pay: Mississippi's Harmful Habitual Laws, FWD.us. November, 2019. "Despite making up 13 percent of the state's population,75 percent of the people with 20+ year habitual sentences are Black men."
  • The Problem of Problem-Solving Courts Erin Collins. November, 2019. "They also reveal a new problem with the model itself - its entrenchment creates resistance to alternatives that might truly reform the system."
  • Youth Confinement: The Whole Pie 2019, Prison Policy Initiative. December, 2019. "On any given day, over 48,000 youth in the United States are confined in facilities away from home as a result of juvenile justice or criminal justice involvement."

Tuesday, January 14 2020:

Monday, January 13 2020:

  • Aging alone: Uncovering the risk of solitary confinement for people over 45, Prison Policy Initiative. May, 2017. "We estimate that more than 44,000 people 45 and older experience solitary in state prisons each year."
  • EFF warns against using incarcerated people as "endless supply of free data" Prison Policy Initiative. June, 2016. "Research using incarcerated people now must be pre-approved by an Independent Review Board. That review didn't happen here."
  • 20 years is enough: Time to repeal the Prison Litigation Reform Act, Prison Policy Initiative. May, 2016. "The Prison Litigation Reform Act, which made it much harder for incarcerated people to file and win civil rights lawsuits in federal court, was a key part of the Clinton-era prison boom."
  • Actual violent crime has nothing to do with our fear of violent crime Prison Policy Initiative. May, 2018. "Comparing violent crime rates to public opinion data shows that there's a long-standing disconnect between perception and reality."
  • Police, courts, jails, and prisons all fail disabled people Prison Policy Initiative. August, 2017. "In 2015, police shot 124 people experiencing a mental health crisis. In 36% of those cases, the officers were called to help the person get medical treatment, and shot them instead."
  • New report: Disabled people targeted by violence at high rates, Prison Policy Initiative. July, 2017. "Disabled people experience violent victimization at over twice the rate of people without disabilities."
  • We know how to prevent opioid overdose deaths for people leaving prison. So why are prisons doing nothing? Prison Policy Initiative. December, 2019. "Proven treatments for opioid use disorders exist -- they just aren't accessible to people in and recently released from prison."
  • Seizing Chicago: Drug stings and asset forfeiture target the poor, Prison Policy Initiative. August, 2017. "Instead of protecting Chicago's communities, state asset forfeiture practices and drug stings set up by federal agents target low-income, Black, and Latino residents, setting them up to fail."
  • BJS report: Drug abuse and addiction at the root of 21% of crimes, Prison Policy Initiative. June, 2017. "More than half of the state prison population and two-thirds of the sentenced jail population report drug dependence or abuse, compared to just 5% of the adult general population."
  • Have we gone too far myth busting criminal justice reform? Drug policy is still important, Prison Policy Initiative. May, 2016. "We didn't get mass incarceration from War on Drugs alone, but drugs play an important role in less discussed stages of criminal justice systems"
  • Tracking the impact of the prison system on the economy Prison Policy Initiative. December, 2017. "In 2012 -- the most recent data available -- the more than 2.4 million people who work for the justice system (in police, corrections and judicial services) at all levels of government constituted 1.6% of the civilian workforce."
  • How much do incarcerated people earn in each state? Prison Policy Initiative. April, 2017. "The average of the minimum daily wages paid to incarcerated workers for non-industry prison jobs is now 86 cents, down from 93 cents reported in 2001."
  • Uncovering Mass Incarceration's Literacy Disparity Prison Policy Initiative. April, 2016. "People in prison are 13 to 24 percent more represented in the lowest levels of literacy than people in the free world."
  • How does unaffordable money bail affect families? Prison Policy Initiative. August, 2018. "Using a national data set, we find that over half of the people held in jail pretrial because they can't afford bail are parents of minor children."
  • For families of incarcerated dads, Father's day comes at a premium Prison Policy Initiative. June, 2017. "Over 1.5 million children have a father incarcerated in prison today."
  • It's not just the franchise: Mass incarceration undermines political engagement, Prison Policy Initiative. March, 2017. "Contact with the criminal justice system impacts not only individual experiences of political participation, but also community-wide political engagement."
  • Incarceration shortens life expectancy Prison Policy Initiative. June, 2017. "Each year in prison takes 2 years off an individual's life expectancy. With over 2.3 million people locked up, mass incarceration has shortened the overall U.S. life expectancy by 5 years."
  • Unpacking the connections between race, incarceration, and women's HIV rates Prison Policy Initiative. May, 2017. "If it weren't for the racial disparity in male incarceration rates, Black women would have lower rates of HIV infection than white women."
  • The steep cost of medical co-pays in prison puts health at risk Prison Policy Initiative. April, 2017. "In most states, people incarcerated in prisons and jails pay medical co-pays for physician visits, medications, dental treatment, and other health services."
  • Food for thought: Prison food is a public health problem, Prison Policy Initiative. March, 2017. "Administrators looking to save a few cents per meal have traded a healthy food service program for processed foods that make incarcerated people sick."
  • The life-threatening reality of short jail stays Prison Policy Initiative. December, 2016. "Suicide continues to be the leading cause of death in local jails."
  • How America's major urban centers compare on incarceration rates Prison Policy Initiative. March, 2019. (Only 13 of the urban counties evaluated had incarceration rates significantly (that is, more than 10%) lower than the states they belong to.)
  • New York State's elderly prison boom: An update, Prison Policy Initiative. November, 2018. "Even as the incarceration rate for all other age groups declines, the number of people age 50 and over incarcerated in New York continues to rise rapidly."
  • Incremental declines can't erase mass incarceration Prison Policy Initiative. June, 2018. "Ending mass incarceration will require a fresh and holistic look at our societal values and priorities."
  • Another century of mass incarceration? Prison Policy Initiative. December, 2016. "If the U.S. doesn't make reducing the correctional population a priority, generations will be burdened by mass incarceration."
  • Tallying the extent of the Clinton-era crime bills Prison Policy Initiative. May, 2016. "The problem isn't one bill, or two or even three but at least seven bills."
  • BJS data shows graying of prisons Prison Policy Initiative. May, 2016. "ccording to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, people 55+ are now the fastest growing age group in the U.S. prison population."
  • President Obama's record on clemency: A premature celebration, Prison Policy Initiative. May, 2016. "With a little over 6 months left in his term, President Obama is on track to become the President who has granted the smallest portion of clemency requests in history."
  • Using the federal budget to fuel decarceration Prison Policy Initiative. August, 2015. "Given the federal government's historical role in fueling mass incarceration, Chettiar points out, federal budgetmakers could switch gears to instead incentivize smarter and more measured criminal justice policymaking."
  • Criminal justice reform at the ballot box: Even County Auditors are worth your attention, Prison Policy Initiative. October, 2018. "In some counties - like Multnomah County, Oregon - auditors are joining the movement to hold jails accountable."
  • Money and Power: Corruption in Local Sheriff Departments, Prison Policy Initiative. December, 2017. "This practice has led to an unfortunate temptation: some sheriffs try to spend as little as possible on jail food (a cruel practice that also raises public health concerns), so that they can keep any unspent funds for themselves."
  • Exploring the staying power of elected sheriffs - a preliminary analysis Prison Policy Initiative. August, 2017. "The average expenditures of a sheriff over his/her career is nearly 2 million dollars and just looking at a single four year campaign cycle, average expenditures top $600,000."
  • The downstream effect of 35 years of jail growth? A state prison boom, Prison Policy Initiative. June, 2017. "Putting more people in jail for minor crimes will soon mean a state prison system bursting at the seams."
  • Some private prisons are, um, public. Prison Policy Initiative. June, 2016. "It is time to accept the counter-intuitive truth: sometimes the government profits off of mass incarceration."
  • Jails matter. But who is listening? Prison Policy Initiative. August, 2015. "Jails matter because a staggering 11 million people cycle through them each year."
  • Jails matter. But who is listening? Prison Policy Initiative. August, 2015. "Jails matter because a staggering 11 million people cycle through them each year."
  • LGBTQ youth are at greater risk of homelessness and incarceration Prison Policy Initiative. January, 2019. "Homelessness is the greatest predictor of involvement with the juvenile justice system. And since LGBTQ youth compose 40% of the homeless youth population, they are at an increased risk of incarceration."
  • The dismal state of transgender incarceration policies Prison Policy Initiative. November, 2017. "Even in supposed progressive bastions such as California and Vermont, a trans person is not assured of the full range of basic rights that the federal commission deemed necessary for their safety while incarcerated."
  • New government report points to continuing mental health crisis in prisons and jails Prison Policy Initiative. June, 2017. "Only a third of incarcerated people experiencing serious psychological distress were receiving treatment"
  • Police stops are still marred by racial discrimination, new data shows. Prison Policy Initiative. October, 2018. "Police threatened or used force against nearly 1 million people, who were disproportionately Black or Hispanic."
  • Data confirms that police treat Black Americans with less respect Prison Policy Initiative. June, 2017. "Analyses of police body cam footage reveals racial disparities in officer respect toward civilians."
  • Don't confuse respect for police with confidence in them Prison Policy Initiative. October, 2016. "Americans' respect for local police is apparently much higher than their confidence in the police in general."
  • Stop and frisk dropping but still ineffective Prison Policy Initiative. May, 2016. "The number of stop and frisks has gone down in recent years, but the practice is still not working."
  • New report reveals civil forfeiture Prison Policy Initiative. December, 2015. "Criminal forfeiture accounts for only 13% of all government seizure of property. So almost 90% of forfeiture proceeds come from situations where citizens may have done nothing wrong."
  • New data highlights pre-incarceration disadvantages Prison Policy Initiative. March, 2018. "Boys born into families at the bottom 10% of the income distribution are 20 times more likely to experience prison in their 30's than their peers born into the top 10%."
  • The Crippling Effect of Incarceration on Wealth Prison Policy Initiative. April, 2016. "Once released, that individual may make gains in wealth accumulation, but they will always remain at significantly lower levels of wealth compared to those who are never incarcerated in their lifetime."
  • Findings from Harris County: Money bail undermines criminal justice goals, Prison Policy Initiative. August, 2017. "The authors' findings provide strong evidence that bail set without consideration of defendants' ability to pay violates the Equal Protection and Due Process Clauses."
  • Pretrial detention costs $13.6 billion each year Prison Policy Initiative. February, 2017. "On any given day, this country has 451,000 people behind bars who are being detained pretrial... It costs local governments nationwide: $13.6 billion."
  • Who is in jail? Deep dive Prison Policy Initiative. December, 2015. "It's very important that we get local officials to focus on the policies that impact the size of their pretrial populations because that's the overwhelming majority of the people in jail on a given day."
  • Why expensive phone calls can be life-altering for people in jail - and can derail the justice process Prison Policy Initiative. February, 2019. "The cost of jail phone calls punishes people in the most desperate circumstances, most of whom have not been convicted of a crime."
  • Who's really bringing contraband into jails? Our 2018 survey confirms it's staff, not visitors, Prison Policy Initiative. December, 2018. "By blaming contraband on in-person visitors, sheriffs distract from a far more likely source: jail staff."
  • Texas prisons, we've got some questions about your commissary vendors Prison Policy Initiative. July, 2018. "Incarcerated people can't hunt for the best price -- they are captive to the questionable decisions of commissary purchasing managers."
  • How to spot the hidden costs in a "no-cost" tablet contract Prison Policy Initiative. July, 2018. "Companies like JPay are offering "free" tablet programs to a growing number of states, and legislators should approach these offers with caution."
  • Findings from Knox County, Tenn.: Replacing in-person visits with video calling is bad policy, Prison Policy Initiative. January, 2018. "The ban on in-person visits makes the jail more dangerous, does nothing to stop the flow of contraband, and strips money from the pockets of families."
  • Jail phone companies flood money into sheriff races Prison Policy Initiative. October, 2017. "New research shows jail phone companies contributing significant sums to Sheriff's campaigns, in one case funding a quarter of Sheriff's campaign spending."
  • The Wireless Prison: How Colorado's tablet computer program misses opportunities and monetizes the poor, Prison Policy Initiative. July, 2017. "Tablets could be an important rehabilitative tool, but not when GTL puts profit above service."
  • Evading regulation, some in-state phone calls from jails cost over $1.50 a minute Prison Policy Initiative. January, 2017. "These pricing schemes have resulted in 15 minute calls that would cost $24.95 from the Arkansas County Jail via Securus and $17.77 from the Douglas County jail in Oregon via Global Tel*Link."
  • The multi-million dollar market of sending money to an incarcerated loved one Prison Policy Initiative. January, 2017. "Private companies amassing monopoly contracts, creating potential to rake in $172 million from friends and family sending money to incarcerated loved ones."
  • Paging anti-trust lawyers: Prison commissary giants prepare to merge, Prison Policy Initiative. July, 2016. "We estimate that commissaries throughout the country rake in about $1.6 billion in sales each year."
  • Travis County, Texas: A Case Study on Video Visitation, Prison Policy Initiative. April, 2016. "While the majority rated their experience with video visitation as positive, almost all (91%) reported they would prefer face-to-face visitation."
  • Prison profiteers use campaign contributions to buy contracts Prison Policy Initiative. October, 2015. "The Voice of OC has revealed that $85,000 in campaign contributions to two Orange County, California county supervisors by Global Tel*Link flipped the two supervisors from being opponents of charging families high phone rates into supporters."
  • Are private prisons driving mass incarceration? Prison Policy Initiative. October, 2015. "Private prisons are more like a parasite on the publicly-owned prison system, not the root cause of mass incarceration."
  • Are campaign contributions the new "commission"? Analysis of Securus's contributions in Sacramento, Prison Policy Initiative. August, 2015. "We argue that the FCC can simply ensure that the rates and fees charged are reasonable and leave the companies and the facilities to fight over whether and how to share the reasonable profits that remain."
  • Red states, blue states: What do these mean for people on parole?, Prison Policy Initiative. January, 2019. (In 2016, Massachusetts returned almost a quarter of its entire parole population to prison for technical violations, while Texas returned only 1%..)
  • Should prosecutors and survivors have a voice in shortening long sentences? Prison Policy Initiative. October, 2018. "Prosecutors are particularly unfit to determine whether individuals they have not seen in years or decades still pose a threat to public safety."
  • New reports show probation is down, but still a major driver of incarceration Prison Policy Initiative. April, 2018. "Probation and parole widen the net of incarceration by keeping people under onerous restrictions and monitoring instead of focusing squarely on reentry assistance."
  • Probation population declines: Good, but not good enough, Prison Policy Initiative. December, 2016. "o make a real dent in the country's bloated correctional population, policy makers need to advance criminal justice and social policies aimed at reducing the number of people on probation."
  • Probation: The nicest sounding way to grease the skids of mass incarceration, Prison Policy Initiative. August, 2015. "More than half the people under correctional control are on probation."
  • New poll shows mass incarceration is a Latinx issue Prison Policy Initiative. January, 2018. "The majority of Latinxs favor rehabilitation over more punitive responses to crime, such as added police or prisons."
  • The parallel epidemics of incarceration & HIV in the Deep South Prison Policy Initiative. September, 2017. "HIV disproportionately impacts communities that are already marginalized by poverty, inadequate resources, discrimination -- and mass incarceration."
  • New data: The rise of the "prosecutor politician", Prison Policy Initiative. July, 2017. "Shugerman argues that the prosecutor's office has become a "stepping stone for higher office... with dramatic consequences in American criminal law and mass incarceration.""
  • Jail will separate 2.3 million mothers from their children this year Prison Policy Initiative. May, 2018. "80% of the women jailed each year are mothers. We're inflicting profound damage not only on them, but their children as well."
  • State-level studies identify causes of the national "gender divide" Prison Policy Initiative. April, 2018. "Nationally, women's incarceration rates still hover near record highs, even as men's rates are going down."
  • BJS update: Women's state prison populations rose while men's fell, again., Prison Policy Initiative. January, 2018. "State prisons cut men's populations in 2016, but incarcerated more women, widening the 'gender divide.'"
  • Breaking open the "black box": How risk assessments undermine judges' perceptions of young people, Prison Policy Initiative. August, 2018. "Algorithmic risk assessments treat youth as a one-dimensional factor, pointing only to higher risk."
  • Locking up youth with adults: An update, Prison Policy Initiative. February, 2018. "Incarcerating youth in adult facilities is even more harmful than incarcerating them with people their own age."
  • Girls are being put behind bars more and more. Will Congress do anything to help? Prison Policy Initiative. September, 2016. "Girls, and especially girls of color, are judged for their 'bad character' while boys are 'just being boys.'"
  • Why do we lock juveniles up for life and throw away the key? Race plays a big part., Prison Policy Initiative. September, 2016. "The Phillips Black Project found that black youth are twice as likely to receive a juvenile life without parole sentence compared to their white peers for committing the same crime."

Friday, January 10 2020:



Stay Informed


Get the latest updates:



Tweet this page Donate