A widespread American crisis

Each year, more than 5 million people are arrested and jailed, with one out of every four people arrested more than once in that year. A single arrest can lead to the loss of housing, jobs, children, benefits, and education — disrupting lives for years. This crisis has ripple effects:

Challenges economic stability and mobility for the incarcerated

Incarceration makes economic stability or mobility immensely challenging. Individuals who have been incarcerated see future earnings reduced by 52% annually. Cumulatively, this is a loss of $55.2 billion, borne by the 7.7 million living Americans who have experienced incarceration.

Impacts those with mental illness and substance use disorders

Over 60% of those who spend time in local jails struggle with mental illness or substance use disorder. Being behind bars only exacerbates these challenges: separation from family and friends, loss of autonomy, poor jail conditions, and trauma combine to trigger or worsen mental illness.

Decreases life expectancy and increases odds of death

Each additional year in prison produced a nearly 16% increase in the odds of death, adds 10-15 years to someone’s physiognomy, and can take 2 years off their life expectancy per year behind bars.



9 million people cycle through local jails every year. Over two million people are currently behind bars in America with another 4.5 million on probation or parole.



Economically disadvantaged people are 20 times more likely to be incarcerated, leading to immediate disruption of lives.