In a moment of bipartisan support for reversing mass incarceration, this project—generously supported by as part of its Inclusion and Racial Justice work—dives deep into the surprising fact that most people behind bars in America are not in the biggest cities. Instead, they live in the hundreds of smaller counties that are home to nearly half of the country’s population. Mass incarceration—and its solutions—are literally in our backyards. We are expanding Vera’s Incarceration Trends Tool, which currently details jail populations in almost every county in the U.S., to encompass not only justice and demographic data, but also broader socioeconomic measures. This data will guide change by illuminating how incarceration plays out in all Americans’ backyards.

Project Objectives

  • Advance local-level justice research;

  • Change the narrative about mass incarceration;

  • Catalyze reform at the local-level

Key Fact

More than half 1/2 of those in America’s jails are outside of large metropolitan areas.