In the 80’s, there were about half a million people in prison in the U.S. Sadly, in 2019, the American criminal justice system holds more than TWO MILLION people. As you can see from the graphic, there are 1,719 state prisons, 109 federal prisons, 1,772 juvenile correctional facilities, 3,163 local jails, and 80 Indian Country jails as well as in military prisons, immigration detention facilities, civil commitment centers, state psychiatric hospitals, and prisons in the U.S. territories.
According to the 2008 U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics there are more than SEVEN MILLION people on parole or probation or locked up. Many of these people have committed non-violent offenses. It is undeniable that this incredible change is a result of laws and sentencing guidelines related to the “war on drugs,” which – in the opinion of many – has not improved drug addiction or abuse in this country.
Fortunately, there are thousands of people around the country who are working to change our criminal justice system so that we’ll have fewer Americans in prison without compromising public safety. Below is a list of criminal justice reform organizations in the United States. If you are interested in criminal justice reform, we encourage you to review the work that these organizations are doing.