Ending Mass IncarcerationReducing the Use of Jails

Stories and Data

County jails are not folksy institutions, the stuff of stereotypes. In communities throughout the country, the experience of being jailed or working in a jail is anything but benign, and many local jails—especially those in small counties, surprisingly—are becoming bigger and more costly to operate.

To help Americans get real about their local jail, Vera launched the Human Toll of Jail, a web-based platform for true stories about the uses and abuses of jail, supplemented with links to relevant research, good practice, and other resources. Vera built the first-ever website where people can track incarceration trends in their own county, or in any country nationwide, and also published The Price of Jails. Already, small and mid-sized communities are waking up to the fact that bloated jails and their costs, both human and financial, are not just a big-city problem.

Related Work

Keeping Women Out of Jail, One Mother at a Time

A special public defenders office set up to help women is keeping families together.

Kami could have walked out of the jail that day if only she could afford the $5,000 bond prescribed by the judge. But without the money, she was stuck behind bars, waiting for the court to decide whether she was guilty. Nationally, women are less likely than men to be able to bond out of jail. Women behind bars are also more likely to have a histo...

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  • Nissa Rhee
    Nissa Rhee
September 21, 2018
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Exclusive First Listen: 70 Million, a New Podcast about Justice Reform

Hear the trailer for this 10-part open-source series that looks at how residents are taking action locally.

So, on August 27, 70 Million will premiere after a team of brilliant and dedicated reporters and producers spent the last eight months traveling the country to collect stories about regular folks becoming catalysts for jail and justice reform in their hometowns. A quick shout out to the dream team, so far: Jen Chien, Luis Gil, Mitzi Miller, Kate Kr...

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  • Juleyka  Lantigua Williams
    Juleyka Lantigua Williams
August 17, 2018
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United Toward Justice

Urban and Rural Communities Share Concerns about Incarceration, Fairness of the Justice System, and Public Spending Priorities

Research by the Vera Institute of Justice (Vera) has demonstrated rising incarceration rates in small, rural counties and declining rates in large, urban counties—so we wondered: is this the product of a country divided on issues of incarceration and justice? In a moment shaped by narratives of bitter partisan and geographic divisions, one might ex...

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  • Jasmine Heiss
    Jasmine Heiss
  • Jack Norton
    Jack Norton
April 19, 2018
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Series: Gender and Justice in America

Mass Incarceration and its Impact Are Devastating to Women

9to5, National Association of Working Women—of which I am the Georgia chapter director—understands the devastating impact mass incarceration has on women. The rate of growth for female imprisonment has outpaced men by more than 50 percent between 1980 and 2014. Now there are more than 1 million women behind bars or under some form of correctional ...

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  • Charmaine  Davis
    Charmaine Davis
August 15, 2016
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