LA Activists Count the Costs of a Domestic Terror System

I'm grateful that three colleagues I admire deeply were able to help me create an insight-filled panel presentation at the first-ever Left Coast Forum taking place at LA Trade Tech this past weekend. We called our session "Mass Incarceration: Counting the Costs," and we began by measuring the damage across different measures: the economic toll, the psychological and spiritual toll, the grave horrors inflicted on individuals, families, neighborhoods, and whole communities. Each panelist linked … [Read more...]

We Are Witnesses: Others: A Portrait of Crime and Punishment in America Today

The impact of America’s punishment policies is often measured in numbers: there are now 2.2 million people in our jails and prisons; one in a hundred and fifteen adults is confined behind bars; our inmate population is four times larger than it was in 1980. “We Are Witnesses,” a collection of short videos, offers a very different sort of calculation: the human cost of locking up so many citizens for so many years. The project comprises nineteen videos, each between two and six minutes long. … [Read more...]

Women’s Mass Incarceration: The Whole Pie 2017

With growing public attention to the problem of mass incarceration, people want to know about women’s experience with incarceration. How many women are held in prisons, jails, and other correctional facilities in the United States? And why are they there? While these are important questions, finding those answers requires not only disentangling the country’s decentralized and overlapping criminal justice systems, but also unearthing the frustratingly hard to find and often altogether missing … [Read more...]

Mass Incarceration: Prisoners of Time

Despite the enactment of justice reforms in many states, the nation’s prison and jail population has dropped only slightly in recent years. Well over two million people remain behind bars, and there has been little dent in the “mass incarceration” that that has been criticized by many on both the left and the right. A new report from the Urban Institute tells much of the reason why: Prisoners sentenced to long terms under laws passed in previous decades still are locked up, and there is … [Read more...]

Harnessing County Level Prop 47 Savings

Proposition 47, the Safe Neighborhood and Schools Act, passed by California voters in November 2014, effectively reduced the status of several low-level property and drug offenses from felonies to misdemeanors. While Prop 47 mandates that state budget savings, resulting from a drop in prison populations, be transferred to a fund that supports mental health and substance abuse treatment programs, school truancy, drop-out prevention, and victim services; there is no mandate that Prop 47 county … [Read more...]

New Report Reveals Huge Variations in Correctional Control Among States

Prisons are just one piece of the correctional pie. Some of the seemingly less punitive states are actually the most likely to put their residents under some other form of correctional control, finds a new report by the Prison Policy Initiative. Correctional Control: Incarceration and supervision by state builds off of the Prison Policy Initiative’s popular report, Mass Incarceration: The Whole Pie, to provide the big picture of mass incarceration. “We often get requests for versions of the … [Read more...]

Mass Incarceration: The Whole Pie 2016

Wait, does the United States have 1.4 million or more than 2 million people in prison? Are most people in state and federal prisons locked up for drug offenses? Frustrating questions like these abound because our systems of confinement are so fragmented and controlled by various entities. There is a lot of interesting and valuable research out there, but varying definitions make it hard — for both people new to criminal justice and for experienced policy wonks — to get the big picture. This … [Read more...]

America Has Locked Up So Many Black People It Has Warped Our Sense of Reality

For as long as the government has kept track, the economic statistics have shown a troubling racial gap. Black people are twice as likely as white people to be out of work and looking for a job. This fact was as true in 1954 as it is today. The most recent report puts the white unemployment rate at around 4.5 percent. The black unemployment rate? About 8.8 percent. But the economic picture for black Americans is far worse than those statistics indicate. The unemployment rate only measures … [Read more...]

How New York City Really Reduced Mass Incarceration

In a report recently published by the Brennan Center for Justice, two nationally renowned criminologists examined the connection between arrest rates in New York City and the state’s overall correctional populations. The report, How New York City Reduced Mass Incarceration: A Model for Change?, makes two essential findings: A reduction in felony arrests in New York City over the course of the last 10-15 years caused a dramatic reduction in state-wide prison, jail, probation, and parole … [Read more...]

Amid Mass Incarceration Debate, California Jails Get $500M To Expand, Build New Correction Facilities

Despite a declining inmate population in California, around a dozen jails were expected to be given millions in financing to expand their facilities. About $500 million was awarded Monday to expand and build new jails across the state, according to TeleSUR, a Latin American television network. About 15 counties are set to receive money for jail construction at the recommendation of the California Board of State and Community Corrections, the board that oversees funding for California jails. … [Read more...]