The Prison Policy Initiative documents the impact of mass incarceration on individuals, communities, and the national welfare. We produce accessible and innovative research to empower the public to participate in creating better criminal justice policy.
The Easthampton-based Prison Policy Initiative combines research and organizing to show how the growing prison system harms our national well-being. Our most successful projects include:
• Protecting poor families from the exploitative prison telephone industry. A single call home from the Hampden County Jail in Ludlow can cost almost $1/minute because the jail granted an exclusive contract to the corporation that would give the biggest kickback by charging families unconscionable phone bills. For a decade, the Federal Communications Commission ignored requests to regulate this industry, but our research and our work with the media and family members helped push the FCC to finally vote in August to regulate this industry.
• Reducing racial disparities in incarceration. A misguided, Massachusetts sentencing-enhancement-zones law, for example, as a driving factor behind the fact that blacks are more than six times, and Latinos almost four times, more likely to be incarcerated than whites. Last year, spurred on by our research focusing on how the law creates injustice in Hampden County, the Massachusetts legislature reformed the law to lessen the harmful impact on our communities.
• Protecting our democracy from the prison industrial complex. There are so many people in prison it actually breaks the legislative process. This is because the Census Bureau counts more than two million incarcerated people at prison locations rather than in their home communities, encouraging state and local governments to dilute the votes of everyone who doesn’t live next to a large prison. We put numbers on the problem, developed solutions, and are seeing huge progress. Four states and more than 200 local governments have solved the problem, and we’re working toward a national solution at the Census Bureau.
The generous support of visionary foundations and individual donors has allowed the Prison Policy Initiative to grow from the idea of three enterprising students in 2001 into an innovative and efficient policy shop at the forefront of the criminal justice reform movement.
Thank you for being part of our movement for justice!
Organization Mission Statements and About Us information are provided by GuideStar.
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