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The United States has less than 5 percent of the world’s population, yet nearly 25 percent of its prisoners. Mass incarceration has crushing consequences — racial, economic, social — and it doesn’t make us safer. The Brennan Center creates innovative solutions, driven by data, to end mass incarceration.

Mass incarceration rips apart families and communities, disproportionately hurts people of color, and costs taxpayers $260 billion a year. At the same time, crime continues to drop to 30-year lows — and harsh punishments aren’t the reason. The Brennan Center works to expose the huge social and economic costs of mass incarceration. We debunk false claims about rising crime. We fight for reforms to sentencing and bail. And we develop transformative legislative proposals like the Reverse Mass Incarceration Act.


The Hidden Cost of Prison

In addition to the trauma of inhumane conditions, after prison people face increased obstacles for everything from getting a job to finding a place to live.

Excessive Punishment book cover

Mass Incarceration’s Fuel

A new collection of essays from dozens of writers explores America's dependence on excessive punishment — and how to end it.