Mass Incarceration

“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.  In East New York, one of the neighborhoods targeted by the NYC Justice Corps, researchers found in 2003 that East New York, one of the NYC Justice Corps target neighborhoods–had 3.5% of Brooklyn’s population and 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 in just a few communities persists.  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.1

1. See Collateral Costs, The PEW Charitable Trusts, p. 4