Mass Incarceration: The Whole Pie 2019

Mass Incarceration: The Whole Pie 2019

By Wendy Sawyer and Peter Wagner, March 19, 2019

Prison Policy Initiative

Can it really be true that most people in jail are being held before trial? And how much of mass incarceration is a result of the war on drugs? These questions are harder to answer than you might think, because our country’s systems of confinement are so fragmented. The various government agencies involved in the justice system collect a lot of critical data, but it is not designed to help policymakers or the public understand what’s going on. As public support for criminal justice reform continues to build, however, it’s more important than ever that we get the facts straight and understand the big picture.

This report offers some much needed clarity by piecing together this country’s disparate systems of confinement. The American criminal justice system holds almost 2.3 million people in 1,719 state prisons, 109 federal prisons, 1,772 juvenile correctional facilities, 3,163 local jails, and 80 Indian Country jails as well as in military prisons, immigration detention facilities, civil commitment centers, state psychiatric hospitals, and prisons in the U.S. territories. This report provides a detailed look at where and why people are locked up in the U.S., and dispels some modern myths to focus attention on the real drivers of mass incarceration.
Read More of the Report

  • How many people are locked up in the United States?
    Learn More
  • 76% of people held by jails are not convicted of any crime
    Learn More
  • Almost 85,000 people are confined for immigration reasons
    Learn More
  • Racial and ethnic disparities in correctional facilities
    Learn More
  • Most people in prisons are poor, and the poorest are women and people of color
    Learn More
  • Five myths about mass incarceration
    Learn More

Read More of the Report

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