Prison Policy Init. Profile picture
Challenging mass incarceration and over-criminalization through research, advocacy, and organizing. Get email updates:
JMWoodward Profile picture ZB Profile picture 3 subscribed
Jan 24 14 tweets 3 min read
Crime is at its lowest point in 60 years. But that hasn’t stopped state legislatures from passing “tough” criminal justice laws that threaten to undo a lot of the progress of the last decade. Here are just some such laws we tallied in 2023. 🧵 At least 3 states created draconian new punishments for fentanyl/other drug offenses. Wisconsin raised its “reckless homicide” penalties, for drug distribution that results in a death - including for people who use drugs together - to 60 years.…
Dec 19, 2023 30 tweets 11 min read
Investigative journalists this year broke crucial stories about prisons and the legal system - climate crises, exploitation, surveillance, and more. Here’s an incomplete list of excellent reporting we read in 2023 on prisons and criminalization: 🧵 For @typeinvestigate and @highcountrynews, @ChrisWBlackwell and @sarahl_sax exposed how Washington state prisons are using lockdowns to “manage” the effects of extreme heat, fires, and flooding, and why decarceration is a better solution:…
Dec 15, 2023 7 tweets 2 min read
Over its run, @shadowproofcom has been an indispensable source of stories about prisons and criminalization that have a clear moral vision and a “long shelf life.” Here are 5 worth reading today. In 2018, Shadowproof broke the news that USDA had provided $277 million in funding for counties to build new or bigger jails. For those of us working to show how our government invests in punishment rather than care, this story was/is pivotal.…
Dec 11, 2023 4 tweets 2 min read
Want to know more about how mass incarceration is playing out in your city? Check out your public housing authority's policies and look for criteria that exclude people with criminal records. Ppl are often denied housing because of things that happened years ago... /1 Image ...or simply for drug use - a blatant extension of the war on drugs.

Denials of public housing/housing vouchers are a big part of why formerly incarcerated people are 10 times more likely to be homeless. /2 Image
Nov 22, 2023 21 tweets 5 min read
Don’t worry! If your Thanksgiving dinner conversation turns from pie to prisons, or from cranberries to crime, we’ve got you covered.

We pulled together some of the false claims you’re likely to hear at the dinner table and the data to help you push back. 🧵 Claim #1: “Crime is out of control.”

Response: The belief that crime is increasing is driven by self-serving politicians. The facts tell a different story.
Oct 31, 2023 9 tweets 3 min read
Earlier this year, Illinois made history by becoming the 1st state to abolish cash bail. But now, the IL office of Pretrial Services is enabling 70 counties to put people released pretrial on electronic ankle monitors. It's unnecessary & dangerous.🧵… Electronic monitoring has exploded nationwide recently, resulting in an increasing # of people on probation, parole, ICE supervision, and pretrial release being heavily surveilled. But - particularly when it comes to pretrial release - there is no clear reason to do it.
Sep 8, 2023 4 tweets 2 min read
Want to know more about how mass incarceration is playing out in your city? Check out your public housing authority's policies and look for criteria that exclude people with criminal records. Ppl are often denied housing because of things that happened years ago... /1 Image or for drug use - a blatant extension of the war on drugs.

Denials of public housing/housing vouchers are likely a major part of why formerly incarcerated people are 10x more likely to be homeless. /2 Image
Jul 21, 2023 4 tweets 1 min read
We're rightly horrified at Southern/Midwestern states with extreme summer temperatures letting people cook alive in prisons. But the crisis in coastal states is real too. Heat waves have a drastically higher impact on mortality in NE and Western states... /1 Image ...possibly because heat-acclimated people fare better during extreme heat, or possibly bc prisons themselves are not equipped for heat waves.

Investigative journalists in these states should ask:
1. Have prisons become more deadly in recent years with more intense heat waves?
Jun 29, 2023 4 tweets 2 min read
"The Republican-controlled [Texas state] House this year proposed spending $545 million to install air-conditioning in the majority of state prisons that do not have it...The bill died in the State Senate."… It's not just prisons in the South that are cooking people alive inside. @ellabakercenter data shows that conditions in California prisons are bad, too.

Jun 27, 2023 9 tweets 3 min read
Almost all major criminal legal reforms since 2000 have excluded people convicted of crimes labeled "violent," restricting the benefits of reform to "non-serious offenders." While these carveouts make reforms easier in the short run, there are many reasons to oppose them. /1 Carveouts reinforce everything that is wrong about the logic of mass incarceration:
- The notion that people can be reduced to "offenders"/"victims" and that "offenders" can be ranked objectively based on dangerousness
- The shaping of criminal justice law in the absence of...
May 10, 2023 5 tweets 2 min read
The # of people in prison & jail doesn’t even begin to capture the reach of the criminal justice system in the US. We provide a more complete picture by including the # of people under probation/parole - systems that often replicate prison conditions in the community. Image Ppl supervised on probation/parole live under a harsh set of rules that others do not. Paying steep monthly fees, maintaining employment, passing regular drug tests, and doing court-mandated programs are common conditions. 230k ppl went to prison last year for failing to comply. Image
May 1, 2023 4 tweets 2 min read
This #MayDay, a reminder that maintaining employment is a common condition of parole release, meaning that mass incarceration has created a class of people who are pressured to say yes to jobs with bad wages, benefits & protections. /1 Formerly incarcerated people earn $.84 for every $1 the average worker earns, or ~$29k/yr. /2 Image
Apr 26, 2023 5 tweets 3 min read
Big news this week on the campaign to end prison gerrymandering. Today, @RepDeborahRoss, @RepMarkPocan, @repclever & @RepEmiliaSykes introduced legislation that would direct the @uscensusbureau to finally count incarcerated people at their true homes. Prison gerrymandering is a problem created because the Census counts incarcerated people in the wrong place: a prison cell rather than their true home.
Mar 17, 2023 6 tweets 2 min read
Massachusetts, here is a brief update on the fight to make prison and jail phone calls free: 🧵

The governor has proposed to include free calls for prisons in her state budget. Bafflingly, people in jails are excluded in her proposal. Jails have the highest phone rates of all correctional facilities in Massachusetts. Families can easily spend hundreds of dollars *every month* on phone calls with a single loved one. Private companies are taking home millions (est. $14 million/year from prisons and jails). Image
Nov 23, 2022 19 tweets 5 min read
🧵We've pulled together some of the false claims about crime and incarceration you're most likely to hear at the Thanksgiving dinner table, and the data and facts to help you push back: Claim #1: "Crime is up because of bail reform!"

Very few places have actually eliminated or reduced their dependence on money bail.

In those places that have reined in their money bail system, most saw decreases or negligible increases in crime after reforms...
Nov 17, 2022 9 tweets 2 min read
NEW: In the last 5 years, prisons in 13 states have replaced physical mail sent to incarcerated people with scans. There's no evidence that this policy - which has a chilling effect on the mail while benefiting private companies - does anything to make prisons safer. Image Many county jails are implementing mail scanning, too. parents trying to stay in touch with their kids, journalists, lawyers, even nonprofits and educational organizations all report long delays and problems with their recipients trying to read scanned letters and photos.
Nov 3, 2022 14 tweets 5 min read
When counties release "jail assessment" analyses (or commission companies to produce analyses) purporting to prove the need for a bigger jail, their reports often distort the facts. 🧵 The reports typically project that the # of people in jail will stay the same or grow, thus justifying the need for a bigger jail. But their projections often ignore criminal justice reforms that are likely to pass - or already have passed! - that will lower the jail population. excerpt from a jail assessmentexcerpt from a jail assessment
Nov 1, 2022 7 tweets 2 min read
Money bail doesn't keep communities safe; it enriches big bail and insurance companies. And we found that in at least 28 states, including NY, California, Hawaii, and Texas, these companies have been avoiding paying $$ that they owe the criminal justice system. /1 We scoured decades of state audits and local news reports for our recent report "All Profit, No Risk: How the bail industry exploits the legal system":…
Oct 31, 2022 5 tweets 2 min read
NYC is moving to ban physical mail at Rikers and other jails by hiring a vendor to scan letters and distribute them to people digitally on tablets. The "vendors" are companies that use tablets as a way to get money out of incarcerated people and their families. /1 Here are some examples of tablet services we've seen monetized before:
- Email (requires a 25-cent "stamp" in most facilities w/ tablets)
- Books (5 cents/minute to read in WV prisons)
- Video calls ($6 for a 30-minute call in California prisons)
Oct 17, 2022 6 tweets 4 min read
NEW: We map where people in #Montana prisons come from, going (where possible) down to the neighborhood level. This is the 12th installment in our series of reports about the geography of mass incarceration. #MTNews #MTPol /1 ICYMI, we also have reports about:
New Jersey
New York

See them here:
Oct 12, 2022 8 tweets 3 min read
A growing body of research shows that mass incarceration's greatest impact on voting does not happen via felony disenfranchisement laws. More often, not voting is the collateral damage of someone being punished by the state, or seeing their loved ones punished. Even going to jail for a very short time for a misdemeanor makes someone less likely to vote after release - "either by changing their attitudes or by making their life sufficiently difficult that they couldn’t make it to the polls," 2019 research shows.…