Tenth-Anniversary Edition of Whole Pie Report Provides Big Picture of Mass Incarceration – and Busts 10 Most Persistent Myths about Prisons, Jails, Crime

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By Yana Singhal

EASTHAMPTON, MASS – After a decade, the Prison Policy Initiative updated its report regarding mass incarceration, providing insights to “the number locked up in the U.S., in what types of facilities, and why” and further debunks some common misconceptions.

The report includes data visualizations regarding criminal legal system and reveals shocking truths about prison and jail, including how “[m]any people in jail pretrial are stuck there simply because they’re too poor to pay their cash bail amount” and “Black people are overrepresented behind bars, making up about 42 percent of the prison and jail populations but only 14 percent of all U.S. residents.”

PPI added, the criminal legal system also places an emphasis on technical violations which “are the main reason people on probation or parole are re-incarcerated.”

After a level of decline in incarceration, the report shows both prison and jail occupants are slowly changing, and the legal system is simply going back to “the return of so-called ‘tough-on-crime laws.’” Mass Incarceration: The Whole Pie (2014)

Peter Wagner, Executive Director of Prison Policy Initiative and co-author of the Prison Policy Initiative report, noted, “The U.S. is at an inflection point in its failed experiment with mass incarceration. After years of progress reducing the number of people behind bars, many of the misguided policies that created this crisis in the first place are being resurrected.”

Wagner added, “The choices made by state, local, and federal officials over the next few years will determine whether the country repeats past mistakes or chooses a better path that makes communities safer and reduces the number of people incarcerated.”

The report also deconstructs the following: the “Reform (of) the criminal legal system does not increase crime,” and “harsher punishments don’t deter crime, nor make communities safer.” The report also notes, “Jails and prisons are not equipped to provide mental health or substance use disorder treatment.”

Wendy Sawyer, co-author of the Prison Policy Initiative report and research director for the organization, notes both politicians and media have taken up “ginning up fear about crime for their self-interests, this report gives the public the truth about what’s happening in the criminal legal system — and the tools to push back on bad faith arguments and lies.”

The first report of Mass Incarceration: The Whole Pie (2014), was aimed at seeing a divide in the movement to end mass incarceration and took that to help start “advocacy campaigns, thousands of news investigations, and countless pieces of legislation that sought to expose the harms of mass incarceration and reduce the number of people behind bars.”

About The Author

The Vanguard Court Watch operates in Yolo, Sacramento and Sacramento Counties with a mission to monitor and report on court cases. Anyone interested in interning at the Courthouse or volunteering to monitor cases should contact the Vanguard at info(at)davisvanguard(dot)org - please email info(at)davisvanguard(dot)org if you find inaccuracies in this report.

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