Prison Policy Initiative Report Shows U.S. Mass Incarceration Post-Pandemic

ANDREW LICHTENSTEIN/CORBIS VIA GETTY IMAGES

By Leslie Acevedo

NORTHAMPTON, MA – Prison Policy Initiative published a flagship report, Mass Incarceration: The Whole Pie 2023, a comprehensive view on mass incarceration this week.

The Prison Policy Initiative notes prison populations are increasing, as pandemic-related slowdowns in the criminal justice system are no longer driving down prison admissions.

The PPI report also said, “Officials continue to release fewer people from prison than before the pandemic.”

“Recent claims about increasing crime are not supported by data,” explained the Prison Policy Initiative report, adding few in law enforcement and on the right blame changes to the criminal legal system for the increase in crime since the start of the pandemic.

However, the PPI report showed that view is not supported by evidence.

The Prison Policy Initiative notes there are about 1.9 million people incarcerated in the U.S., 803,000 people are on parole, and 2.9 million people are on probation.

Wendy Sawyer, research director for the Prison Policy Initiative and co-author of the report, wrote the reason behind the decreasing incarceration rates at the start of the pandemic was a result of pandemic-related slowdowns, not elected leaders actions.

Sawyer adds, “It is disappointing, but not surprising that prison populations are already beginning to creep up again.”

The report included 30 visualizations of criminal justice data, exposing truths about incarceration in the U.S.

It notes the U.S continues to incarcerate thousands of people pretrial, Black people are still overrepresented behind bars, victims supporting alternative ways of finding people accountable than incarcerating, and the effect incarceration has on people.

Sawyer adds, as society navigates to a new post-pandemic normal, it is  seeing a return to business as usual as officials abandon positive practices implemented in response to the pandemic.

Sawyer concluded the report should present as a “wake up call” for the government and the public.

About The Author

Leslie Acevedo is a senior undergraduate student at California State University, Long Beach, majoring in Criminology/Criminal Justice. She intends to pursue a Master's Degree in Forensic Science or Criminal Justice. She aspires to become a forensic investigator.

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