Prison Journalism Navigator
Incarceration Data and Other Resources
The availability of data particular to prisons and state corrections departments can vary, but many excellent resources are available to provide a good starting point to understand the U.S. criminal legal system and incarceration. Here are a few sources and reports that we rely on to help add context to our writers’ stories:
- Prison Policy Initiative
- Sentencing Project
- Vera Institute
- American Civil Liberties Union
- Impact Justice
- Southern Poverty Law Center
ARTICLES & REPORTS
- “Mass Incarceration: The Whole Pie 2022”: The Prison Policy Initiative takes on the arduous task of aggregating disparate information and making sense of them through reports, fact sheets and articles that are presented succinctly in a way that journalists will find particularly helpful. “The Whole Pie” is a comprehensive study it releases annually with valuable information about the size and breakdown of the U.S. carceral system. Beat reporters might find it useful to get on their mailing list.
- Criminal Justice Fact Sheet: By NAACP.
- Prisoners in 2020 — Statistical Tables: A study released in 2021 by the U.S. Department of Justice.
- State by State Data: A resource page by the Sentencing Project.
- The State of America’s Children: Youth Justice: By The Children’s Defense Fund.
- Children in Adult Prisons: By the Equal Justice Initiative.
- Minors in Prison: Lots of resources by Child Crime Prevention and Safety Center.
- Prison Policy Initiative’s Public Health page: Links to several reports on the handling of COVID-19 in prisons.
- California’s COVID-19 tracker: The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation has one of the best COVID-19 trackers out there, breaking down staff and resident cases and testing by facility. Note that the tracker is constantly updated and provides no way to go back to see data at a certain point in time. We recommend taking a screenshot to capture any moments in time.
- COVID Prison Project: Tracks data and policy to monitor COVID-19 in prisons nationwide.
- Bureau of Prisons’ COVID-19 tracker: The federal prison system devotes a section of their website to COVID-19 data by facility.
Economics of Prison
- The Price of Prisons: By the Vera Institute.
- Economics of Incarceration: By the Prison Policy Initiative.
- The Hidden Cost of Incarceration: By The Marshall Project.
- The True Cost of Incarceration on Families: A 2015 research report led by Ella Baker Center.
Families of Incarcerated
- Hidden Consequences: The Impact of Incarceration on Dependent Children: National Institute of Justice.
- Impact of Incarceration on Children: A primer by Prison Fellowship.
- Incarceration in America study: FWD.us and Cornell University partnered in 2018 to better understand the number of people in the U.S. who are impacted by incarceration. PJP often cites their primary finding that 113 million people — about half of the U.S. population — have an immediate family member who is formerly incarcerated or incarcerated.
- Mass Incarceration and Children’s Outcomes: Economic Policy Institute 2015 report.
- Eating Behind Bars: A six-part series by Impact Justice that explores trends and inequalities around prison food in the U.S.
- Nutrition in American Prisons: A research report by Catherine Peabody at Washington and Lee University.
- Prisons Have a Healthcare issue: By The Marshall Project.
- Treatment of Persons with Mental Illness in Prisons and Jail: By the Treatment Advocacy Center.
- Incarceration Can Cause Lasting Damage to Mental Health: A research roundup by Prison Policy Initiative.
- Improving Mental Health for Inmates: By the American Psychological Association.
- Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5): A seminal guide by the American Psychiatric Association that recognizes the impact of gender dysphoria on mental health. PJP’s trans writers have referred to this document in their articles making a case for gender affirmation surgery and other care.
- Mental Health Treatment While Incarcerated: By the National Alliance on Mental Illness.
- Trauma Exposure and PTSD among incarcerated men: A 2014 academic study that shows how incidents of PTSD are significantly higher among incarcerated men than in the general population.
- Unmet Health Needs of People in State Prisons: A June 2022 report by Prison Policy Initiative.
- LGBT: A curated page of resources by Prison Policy Initiative.
- LGBTQ People Behind Bars: A study by National Center for Transgender Equality.
- Deaths in Jail: An investigation of public records by Reuters on mortality deaths in jail.
- Deaths Behind Bars (Louisiana): The first comprehensive collection and analysis of deaths behind bars in Louisiana by the Technology and Legal Innovation Clinic at Loyola Law School, New Orleans.
- Deaths Behind Bars (South Carolina): The first comprehensive collection and analysis of deaths behind bars in South Carolina by the University of South Carolina School of Law in partnership with the Technology and Legal Innovation Clinic at Loyola Law School, New Orleans.
- The Color of Justice: A report by the Sentencing Project on racial and ethnic disparities in state prisons.
- Race and Ethnicity: Prison Policy Initiative summary.
- Religious Freedom in Prisons: A primer by the American Civil Liberties Union.
- Religion in Prisons: A 50-state survey of prison chaplains by the Pew Research Center in 2012.
- Impacts of Solitary Confinement: Vera Institute study.
- Time-In-Cell 2019: A survey of restrictive housing by The Arthur Liman Center for Public Interest at Yale Law School.
- Solitary Confinement on Death Row: by the American Civil Liberties Union.
- Solitary Confinement: Inhumane, Ineffective and Wasteful: A primer by Southern Poverty Law Center.
- Women’s Mass Incarceration: The Whole Pie 2019: A comprehensive study by Prison Policy Initiative.
- Facts About the Over-Incarceration of Women in the United States: By the ACLU.
- Incarcerated Women and Girls: By The Sentencing Project.