Criminal Justice

Incarceration Fact Sheet


  • Video & Transcript: The Consumer Watchdog Rage for Justice Awards 2017

    Consumer Watchdog hosts the Rage for Justice Awards to honor the heroes and heroines of the public interest movement. The awards are named after Congressman Phillip Burton, one of the most productive and driven progressive legislators in American history. His story is told in John Jacobs’ acclaimed book A Rage for Justice.

    This year's honorees included Bernie & Jane Sanders, Chris Spagnoli, and Jackson Browne.

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  • Facts About The Death Penalty

    There have been 1448 executions in the United States since 1976. 

    This fact sheet covers some key facts and figures about the death penalty, from which 31 states have the death penalty, to the discrepancies between races of the defendants who are executed and the race of the victims in death penalty cases. It specifically looks at racial discrepancies within the criminal justice system overall and within certain states. 

    DeathPenalty Race Facts

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  • Trends In U.S. Corrections

    This fact sheet gives an overview into statistics in the U.S. Corrections system.

    It begins with a broad overview of the U.S. Federal prison population which has increased dramatically since the 70's and incarceration rates in the U.S. (670 per 100,000) compared to other countries, the country with the next highest incarceration rate is Russia (439 per 100,000.) "The United States is the world's leader in incarceration with 2.2 million people currently in the nation's prisons and jails."

    The fact sheet then looks at the prison population by offense - where almost half of individuals in the federal prison population are there due to a drug related offense.  It also delves into the female prison population, racial disparities in the prison system, youths in prison, felony disenfranchisement by state, and the increase in life sentences.

    Trends in US Corrections IMAGE

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  • Felon Voting Rights

    Whether the U.S. should allow individuals convicted of crimes to vote is a contentious topic in American politics. This article delves into the laws in each state that address whether and when felons can vote.

    Felon Voting Rights

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  • Review of the Federal Bureau of Prisons’ Monitoring of Contract Prisons

    In 1997 the Bureau of Prisons started contracting privately operated institutions (private prisons/contract prisons.)"As of December 2015, contract prisons housed roughly 22,660 of these federal inmates, or approximately 12 percent of the BOP’s total inmate population." This article is the executive summary taken from a Bureau of Prisons report.

    The report finds that:

    • In a majority of the categories  examined, contract prisons incurred more safety and security incidents per capita than comparable BOP institutions.

    • With the exception of fewer incidents of positive drug tests and sexual misconduct, the contract prisons had more incidents per capita than the BOP institutions in all of the other categories of data we examined. For example, the contract prisons confiscated eight times as many contraband cell phones annually on average as the BOP institutions. Contract prisons also had higher rates of assaults, both by inmates on other inmates and by inmates on staff.

    • The three contract prisons we visited were all cited by the BOP for one or more safety and security deficiencies, including administrative infractions

    • Two of the three contract prisons we visited were improperly housing new inmates in Special Housing Units, which are normally used for disciplinary or administrative segregation, until beds became available in general population housing.

    The report concludes that the Bureau of Prisons needs to reevaluate how it monitors contract prisons in order to ensure the safety of inmates, and the prisons' compliance with the law.

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  • The Price We Pay: Economic Costs of Barriers to Employment for Former Prisoners and People Convicted of Felonies

    This article from the Center for Economic and Policy Priorities looks at employment within the former prison population as well as those with felony convictions.

    The report finds that "hat there were between 14 and 15.8 million working-age people with felony convictions in 2014, of whom between 6.1 and 6.9 million were former prisoners." These individuals face a number of barriers to employment including "erosion of basic job skills, disruption of formal education, and the loss of social networks that can improve job-finding prospects. Those with felony convictions also face legal restrictions that lock them out of many government jobs and licensed professions."

    As a result, "this report finds that there was a 0.9 to 1.0 percentage-point reduction in the overall employment rate in 2014, equivalent to the loss of 1.7 to 1.9 million workers. In terms of the cost to the economy as a whole, this suggests a loss of about $78 to $87 billion in annual GDP."

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  • Recidivism Among Federal Offenders: A Comprehensive Overview

    This report from the United States Sentencing Commission investigated recidivism rates among a swath of the incarcerated population. 

    It finds that "Over an eight year follow-up period, almost one-half of federal offenders released in 2005 (49.3%) were rearrested for a new crime or rearrested for a violation of supervision conditions." Almost a third were reconvicted and one quarter were reincarerated. 

    The report also looks at the characteristics of inmates that make recidivism more likely. They found that of those offenders who recidivated, most did so within the first two years. A federal offenders criminal history, and their age at time of release were closely associated with likelyhood to recidivate. Those with more criminal history points and those who were younger were more likely to recidivate. 

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