† Criminal InJustice is a weekly series devoted to taking action against inequities in the U.S. criminal justice system. Nancy A. Heitzeg, Professor of Sociology and Race/Ethnicity, is the Editor of CI. Kay Whitlock, co-author of Queer (In)Justice, is contributing editor of CI. Criminal Injustice is published every Wednesday at 6 pm.
Essential Data/Graphics from Prison Policy Initiative
Editor’s note by nancy a heitzeg
We are CI are indebted for the work of Prison Policy Initiative. In addition to their campaigns against prison gerrymandering, the suppression of inmate rights to communication, and sentencing enhancement zones, they have recently provided a series of data sets/related graphs that offer clarity into the nature and scope of mass incarceration, both nationally and at the state level.
In the midst of claims that incarceration rates are falling and that the “tough on crime” era is over, the PPI data reveals the reality of a nation that still incarcerates at stunning rates, and with extreme racial dis proportionality. The majority of prisoners are located at the state level, and slight dips in national incarceration rate are driven almost exclusively by drops in New York and California, whose decline is both court-ordered and questionable. Other states continue to imprison at staggering levels with slight declines or steady rates despite clamors of “reform”.
The comprehensive portrait of our prison nation offered by PPI comes at time when clarity is most needed, and provides those committed to decarceration with the necessary tools to cut through the fog. With permission and much gratitude, CI is please to reprint excerpts from the following Prison Policy Initiative Briefings:
- Mass Incarceration: The Whole Pie A Prison Policy Initiative briefing By Peter Wagner and Leah Sakala March 12, 2014.
- Breaking Down Mass Incarceration in the 2010 Census: State-by-State Incarceration Rates by Race/Ethnicity, by Leah Sakala, May 2014
- Tracking State Prison Growth in 50 States, by Peter Wagner, with 50 state incarceration profiles, May 2014