The United States incarcerates more of its citizens than any other nation in the world. While the US represents about 4.4 percent of the world’s population, it houses around 22 percent of the world’s prisoners. About one in 100 adults in the US are imprisoned. For communities of color, incarceration rates are highest. One of every three African-American males will be incarcerated in their lifetime, while one in six Latino men will be imprisoned. 

With numbers like those, there are some tough questions we need to be asking ourselves:

  • What are our “tough on crime” policies actually doing?
  • Are they helping people transition back into society or are we actually supporting a profitable prison system?
  • Were the odds stacked against people before and are they even worse after they served their time?
  • Do we want to further punish people or reintegrate them into society?
  • Do we want to address the racism and poverty underlying these statistics, or do we want to punish the poor and people of color? 

This toolkit will take the important first step of helping you how the criminal justice system works. Our hope is to find a better understanding of this complex system and realize that when things go wrong from the beginning it can lead to a domino effect with lasting damage.