CLASP's From Incarceration to Reentry Report

"With record levels of men and women incarcerated—totaling 2.2 million—the United States places more people in prison at a higher rate than any other developed nation. That total also represents 20 percent of the world's prison population, which is disproportionately high considering that the U.S. makes up less than 5 percent of the world's population. For low-income communities, the disparities are even more alarming. In 2014, the median annual income for people prior to incarceration was less than $20,000. Furthermore, Blacks and Latinos, who are disproportionately impacted by poverty, also have the highest rates of imprisonment and account for more than half of all prisoners. However, the context surrounding this crisis tells a much larger story, which is partly rooted in educational inequities. More than two-thirds of state prison inmates do not have a high school diploma. 

The roots of these disparities are complex. Pipelines to prison have historically been concentrated in low-income communities of color. From an early age, many youth in these spatially segregated communities experience economic and environmental injustices, underfunded and under-resourced schools, harsh school discipline policies, and exposure to crime and violence in ways that create diminished opportunities for economic and educational mobility. These realities are a deeper reflection of historic and present injustices ingrained in larger systems of governance. The criminal justice system often reinforces these embedded structures of inequality. Over-criminalization, implicit bias, harsh sentencing policies, and judicial and prosecutorial discretion disproportionately affect Black and Latino communities, having directly shaped the system of mass incarceration we know today. Together, these disparities create conditions of enhanced susceptibility to criminal justice system involvement for people of color that can be characterized as targeted and concentrated more than anything else."

View the Report