Content categorized as 'Correctional' is limited in scope to the US Correctional Industry. It does not include cross-industry topics that affect multiple United States industries or areas of study and does not reach internationally.
From the early 1970s into the new millennium, the U.S. prison population experienced unprecedented growth, which had a direct influence on state budgets. In recent years, however, lawmakers in nearly every state and from across the political spectrum have enacted new laws to reduce prison populations and spending. This report, which builds upon the information found in Vera’s 2012 publication The Price of Prisons: What Incarceration Costs Taxpayers, found that 13 states were successful in reducing both population and spending. However, no single reason explains a rise or fall in spending; instead, a multitude of factors push and pull expenditures in different directions. Read the report and explore our interactive data visualization below to learn more.
Some threats to correctional institutional security — e.g., violence, escape attempts, contraband — are as old as the institutions themselves, while other threats — e.g., computer hacking, synthetic drugs, cell phones, drones — have evolved with societal and technological changes. Many of these threats present risks to public safety as a whole. In light of the ongoing challenges the corrections sector faces in countering these threats, RAND researchers convened an expert workshop to better understand the challenges and identify the high-priority needs associated with threats to institutional security.
Researchers from the Vera Institute of Justice, with support from Google.org Fellows, collected data on the number of people in local jails at midyear in both 2018 and 2019 to provide timely information on how incarceration is changing in the United States. This report fills a gap until the Bureau of Justice Statistics releases its report on jail population statistics in 2019—likely in early 2021. Vera researchers estimated the national jail population and jail incarceration rate using a sample of 861 jail jurisdictions. The results are broken down by jurisdiction type and across years, showing diverging trends between urban, suburban, small/midsized metropolitan, and rural areas.
Early research on the effects of prison concluded that prisoner rehabilitation programmes do not work (Martinson 1974). This research was influential in rehabilitation gradually taking a back seat in favour of prison policies emphasising punishment and incapacitation. Subsequent scholars questioned the evidence base for this conclusion (Cullen 2005), but as Nagin et at. (2009) summarise, “Remarkably little is known about the effects of imprisonment on reoffending. The existing research is limited in size, in quality, [and] in its insights into why a prison term might be criminogenic or preventative.”
Recent research from The Pew Charitable Trusts found that about 4.5 million people in the United States are on community supervision as of 2016. Probation and parole provide a measure of accountability while allowing those who would otherwise have been incarcerated or have already served a term behind bars to meet their obligations to their families, communities, and victims.
By yearend 2017, 1.4 million people were imprisoned in the United States, a decline of 7% since the prison population reached its peak level in 2009. This follows a nearly 700% growth in the prison population between 1972 and 2009.
The overall pace of decarceration has varied considerably across states, but has been modest overall. Thirty-nine states and the federal government had downsized their prisons by 2017. Five states—Alaska, New Jersey, Vermont, Connecticut, and New York—reduced their prison populations by over 30% since reaching their peak levels. But among the 39 states that reduced levels of imprisonment, 14 states downsized their prisons by less than 5%. Eleven states, led by Arkansas, had their highest ever prison populations in 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? How is their experience different from men’s? 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 data on gender.
On any given day, over 48,000 youth in the United States are confined in facilities away from home as a result of juvenile justice or criminal justice involvement. Most are held in restrictive, correctional-style facilities, and thousands are held without even having had a trial. But even these high figures represent astonishing progress: Since 2000, the number of youth in confinement has fallen by 60%, a trend that shows no sign of slowing down.
What explains these remarkable changes? How are the juvenile justice and adult criminal justice systems different, and how are they similar? Perhaps most importantly, can those working to reduce the number of adults behind bars learn any lessons from the progress made in reducing youth confinement?