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

Photo by Karl Soderstrom

People in Prison in 2019

See our updated report, "People in Jail and Prison in 2020." Vera Institute of Justice (Vera) researchers collected data on the number of people who were incarcerated in state and federal prisons as of December 31, 2019, to provide timely information on how prison incarceration is changing in the United States. This report fills a gap until the Bur ...

  • Jacob Kang-Brown, Chase Montagnet, Eital Schattner-Elmaleh, Oliver Hinds
May 14, 2020