Mass Incarceration

The ACLUworks in courts, legislatures, and communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties that the Constitution and the laws of the United States guarantee everyone in this country.

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What you need to know

$80 billion
The United States spends over $80 billion on incarceration each year.
10
Blacks are incarcerated for drug offenses at a rate 10 times greater than that of whites, despite the fact that blacks and whites use drugs at roughly the same rates.
$20,000-$50,000
Local, state, and federal governments spend anywhere from $20,000 to $50,000 annually to keep an individual behind bars.

What's at Stake

Despite making up close to 5% of the global population, the U.S. has more than 20% of the world鈥檚 prison population. Since 1970, our incarcerated population has increased by 500% 颅颅鈥 2 million people in jail and prison today, far outpacing population growth and crime.

One out of every three Black boys born today can expect to go to prison in his lifetime, as can one of every six Latino boys鈥攃ompared to one of every 17 white boys. At the same time, incarcerated population in the United States.

There are twice as many people incarcerated in local jails awaiting trial and presumed innocent than in the entire federal prison system. And each year, 650,000 people nationwide return from prison to their communities. They face nearly 50,000 federal, state, and local legal restrictions that make it difficult to reintegrate back into society, including potentially the loss of voting rights It鈥檚 why we call this system the New Jim Crow.

Our prison system costs taxpayers at least $80 billion per year. This money should be spent building up, not further harming, communities. Investments, not incarceration, is how we improve safety.

Despite making up close to 5% of the global population, the U.S. has more than 20% of the world鈥檚 prison population. Since 1970, our incarcerated population has increased by 500% 颅颅鈥 2 million people in jail and prison today, far outpacing population growth and crime.

One out of every three Black boys born today can expect to go to prison in his lifetime, as can one of every six Latino boys鈥攃ompared to one of every 17 white boys. At the same time, incarcerated population in the United States.

There are twice as many people incarcerated in local jails awaiting trial and presumed innocent than in the entire federal prison system. And each year, 650,000 people nationwide return from prison to their communities. They face nearly 50,000 federal, state, and local legal restrictions that make it difficult to reintegrate back into society, including potentially the loss of voting rights It鈥檚 why we call this system the New Jim Crow.

Our prison system costs taxpayers at least $80 billion per year. This money should be spent building up, not further harming, communities. Investments, not incarceration, is how we improve safety.

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