Published on: Tuesday, March 14, 2023
Today, Pi day, it seems appropriate that the Prison Policy Initiative released Mass Incarceration: The Whole Pie. This report provides a comprehensive view of how many people are locked up in the U.S., in what kinds of facilities, and why. It pieces together the most recent national data on state prisons, federal prisons, local jails, and other systems of confinement to provide a snapshot of mass incarceration in the U.S.
Highlights from the report include:
- Prison populations are starting to rebound. Although prison populations are still lower than they've been in decades, prison populations are beginning to increase as pandemic-related slowdowns in the criminal legal system are no longer driving down prison admissions. Additionally, officials continue to release fewer people from prison than before the pandemic.
- Recent claims about increasing crime are not supported by data. Crime rates remain at near historic lows. However, some in law enforcement and on the right have sought to blame changes to the criminal legal system -- such as bail reform, changes to police budgets, or electing "progressive" prosecutors -- for increases in some crime rates since the start of the pandemic. However, these claims are not supported by the evidence: murder rates were an average of 40% higher in "red" states compared to blue states in 2020, police budgets have recently increased in the vast majority of cities and counties in the country, and places that did not implement any of these reforms also saw increases in crime rates.
- In total, roughly 1.9 million people are incarcerated in the United States, 803,000 people are on parole, and a staggering 2.9 million people are on probation.