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 justice system and incarceration. Here are a few sources and reports that we rely on to help add context to our writers’ stories:




  • 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. 



  • 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

Families of Incarcerated


Health/Mental Health


  • LGBT: A curated page of resources by Prison Policy Initiative.
  • LGBTQ People Behind Bars: A study by National Center for Transgender Equality.

Prison Conditions

  • Deaths in Jail: An investigation of public records by Reuters on mortality deaths in jail.



Solitary Confinement