The United States continues to lead the world in incarceration given that over 6.3 million persons are under correctional control. More than 2.1 million are in prison or jail, and 4.4 million are under community surveillance on probation or parole. At least 19 million persons are living with a felony conviction while an estimated 70-100 million have a criminal record. The persistence of extremely punitive sentencing laws and policies, not increases in crime rates, sustain the nation’s high rate of incarceration.
Ending mass incarceration requires a transformative change to sentencing policies and practices aligned with the scaling back of collateral consequences of conviction, and challenging racial disparities in the criminal justice system. This briefing paper highlights key reforms undertaken in 2021 prioritized by The Sentencing Project.