Over the last four decades, America’s prison population has increased dramatically. This tremendous growth disproportionately affects minorities, and has been exacerbated by the war on drugs. Mass incarceration has become a form of legalized discrimination — what activist and lawyer Michelle Alexander calls the “new Jim Crow” — that makes it more difficult for millions to participate in basic aspects of our democracy.
Below are some facts and figures on incarceration in America.
For further reading on mass incarceration in America, check out the American Civil Liberties Union’s infographic on the topic, The Sentencing Project’s report to the UN on racial disparities in the US justice system, its state-by-state map, the Washington Post’s editorial on state spending on corrections and Professor Heather Schoenfeld’s “Five things everyone should know about US incarceration.”