Prison Reform
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“It is not the prisoners that need reformation. It is the prisons.”

— Oscar Wilde

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“Imprisonment has become the response of first resort to far too many of our social problems.”

— Angela Davis

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“The degree of civilization in a society can be judged by entering its prisons.”

— Fyodor Dostoyevsky

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“You can chain men, you can torture me, you can even destroy my body, but you will never imprison my mind.”

— Mahatma Gandhi

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“We need to end, once and for all, the disgraceful practice of corporations profiting from the incarceration of Americans.”

— Bernie Sanders

Prison Reform News

Concerns over conditions inside Arizona state prisons over no air conditioning

ADCRR has posted a website to update the status of installing HVAC systems inside prisons across the state By: Nicole Grigg Posted at 11:00 AM, Jul 10, 2024 To watch video report,…
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Georgia Prison Officials in ‘Flagrant’ Violation of Solitary Confinement Reforms, Judge Says

BY SUDHIN THANAWALA Updated 1:19 PM CDT, April 23, 2024 ATLANTA (AP) — Georgia prison officials have flagrantly violated a court order to reform conditions for prisoners in the state’s most…
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Fact Sheet

  • As of 2019, the American criminal justice system holds almost 2.3 million people in prisons, jails and correctional facilities.
    Prison Policy Initiative
  • The US prison population has increased by 500% over the past 40 years.
    The Sentencing Project
  • 76% or the people who go to jail throughout each year have not been convicted of a crime. Some have been arrested and will make bail in a few hours or days, but others are too poor to make bail and remain behind bars until their trial.
    Prison Policy Initiative
  • Approximately 10,000 American youths are detained or incarcerated in adult jails and prisons. Studies show that youth held in adult facilities are 36 times more likely to commit suicide and are at the greatest risk of sexual victimization.
    National Juvenile Justice Network
  • 33% of Black men can expect to go to prison at some point in their life, compared with 17% of Hispanic men and 6% of white men.
  • Black male offenders received on average 19% longer sentences than similarly situated white male offenders.
    U.S. Sentencing Commission
  • 45% of all Americans have had an immediate family member incarcerated.
    Prison Policy Institute
  • At least 37 states have legalized the contracting of prison labor by private corporations that mount their operations inside state prisons. These companies include Microsoft, AT&T, Dell, Compaq, Hewlett-Packard, Intel, Nordstrom’s, Target and many more.
    Global Research
  • Formerly incarcerated people are almost 10 times more likely to be homeless than the general public.
    Prison Policy Initiative

Resources, Publications, & Articles

  • Human rights considerations
  • Imprisonment and poverty
  • Public health consequences of imprisonment
  • Detrimental social impact
  • Cost of imprisonment
  • Punishment vs rehabilitation
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Ways to Take Action

Help end mass incarceration by letting your representatives know that you stand for responsible criminal justice policies.

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Interested in connecting with reform efforts near you? The Sentencing Project’s directory provides contact information for their state and local allies in criminal justice research and advocacy.

There are quite a few organizations and charities focused on Prison Reform. One of the best ways to get involved is to join their movement and help support them. Below is a few organizations but there are many more out there and we encourage you to go out and look for one that you support.

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Recommended Media

This nominee for the 1999 Best Documentary Feature Academy Award takes viewers into one of the nation's most infamous correctional facilities: the Louisiana State Penitentiary, America's oldest and largest maximum security prison. Imprisoning nearly 5,000 inmates at the time of filming, it is known as the "Alcatraz of the South" and "The Farm." Over one year, filmmakers followed the stories of six people; among the film's subjects is a 22-year-old arrival who's only just beginning his life sentence and a death row inmate who allows cameras to accompany him as he enjoys his last meal. 

Where to Watch: Apple TV+

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Notable documentarian Louis Theroux takes viewers into the San Quentin State Prison, one of the nation's oldest maximum security prisons. This prison, located in northern California, has housed thousands upon thousands of prisoners since 1852.

Theroux travels to the notoriously overcrowded prison where he, for an astonishing two weeks, embeds himself into the culture there, mixing with both the incarcerated and their guards. Viewers are given a front row seat to the unique society that exists within prison walls, complete with its own rules and customs.

Where to Watch: BBC, Dailymotion

The 13th Amendment abolished slavery and involuntary servitude, except as "punishment for crime." DuVernay makes an exceptionally strong case for mass incarceration as modern-day slavery, citing widespread privatization of prisons and prison labor. Featuring public intellectuals like The New Jim Crow author Michelle Alexander, and Angela Davis, "13th" is a punch-in-the-gut viewing experience — but if you find it hard to watch, can you imagine how hard it is to live it?

Where to Watch: Netflix

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