Despite making up close to 5% of the global population, the U.S. has nearly 25% of the world’s prison population. Since 1970, our incarcerated population has increased by 700% – 2.3 million people in jail and prison today, far outpacing population growth and crime.
One out of every three Black boys born today can expect to go to prison in his lifetime, as can one of every six Latino boys—compared to one of every 17 white boys. At the same time, women are the fastest growing incarcerated population in the United States.
There are twice as many people sitting in local jails awaiting trial and presumed innocent than in the entire federal prison system. And each year, 650,000 men and women nationwide return from prison to their communities. They face nearly 50,000 federal, state, and local legal restrictions that make it difficult to reintegrate back into society.
Our prison system costs taxpayers $80 billion per year. This money should be spent building up, not further harming, communities. Investment, not incarceration, is how we improve safety.
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