Growth in Mass Incarceration
The United States is the world’s leader in incarceration. Get the facts and statistics on trends in U.S. incarceration.
Prison Population Over Time
There are 2 million people in the nation’s prisons and jails—a 500% increase over the last 40 years. Changes in sentencing law and policy, not changes in crime rates, explain most of this increase. These trends have resulted in prison overcrowding and fiscal burdens on states to accommodate a rapidly expanding penal system, despite increasing evidence that large-scale incarceration is not an effective means of achieving public safety.
Explore the data
U.S. criminal justice data
View and sort criminal justice data for U.S. states and jurisdictions and compare the numbers against the nation's total.
Detailed data tool
An expanded data set with an interactive tool allows you to compare state-level incarceration data for youth and adults, including racial/ethnic disparities, and estimates on the impact of felony disenfranchisement.
Search important resources created, produced, and published by The Sentencing Project, including research and advocacy publications, webinars, testimonials and more.
Glossary of terms
The A-Z on justice. Understanding frequently used terminology in America's youth and adult criminal legal systems.
The support of The Sentencing Project has been integral in informing our community of the racial disparities that exist in Iowa. Their research added credibility to local organizers’ approaches and forced the community to shift its focus from detention toward the bigger picture— racial inequity.
Our criminal legal system is broken
For over three decades, The Sentencing Project’s research and analysis has served as the backbone of successful national and state criminal legal reform campaigns. Join us in speaking out against the racist policies that underpin our penal system and advocate with us for meaningful solutions to advance public safety.
1 in 7
people in U.S. prisons are serving a life sentence.
Black youth are over four times as likely to be detained or committed in juvenile facilities as their white peers.
Support our critical work
The Sentencing Project and our advocacy partners rely on generous supporters like you for the resources to launch urgently needed research, advocacy, and public education efforts.