“Too many Americans go to too many prisons for far too long,” Attorney General Eric Holder said in 2013, announcing the end of Federal mandatory minimum sentencing for some drug offenders. Policies that led to the incarceration of 1.6 million people across the United States in 2009, and a high of X in New York State that year, are slowly shifting, leading to reductions in the prison population and the shuttering of seven prisons in New York alone.
But the impact of four decades of mass incarceration continues to devastate certain communities. Researchers found that in 2003, East New York—one of the NYC Justice Corps target neighborhoods—had only 3.5% of Brooklyn’s population but 8.5% of Brooklyn’s prison admissions. It cost $11,839,665 per year to incarcerate people from just 11 blocks in East New York.
While crime rates in NYC are down, this concentration of criminal justice involvement persists in a few communities, with large numbers of individuals sent to prison or supervised on parole and probation. For example, the 10 Community Districts served by the NYC Justice Corps are home to only 15% of the City’s residents, but these communities account for more than 22.5% of all of the City’s probationers.