Over the last 30 years, the prison population has exploded in size, a poverty-generating development not just because those imprisoned live in poverty-like conditions, but also because they cannot accumulate much education, training, or labor force experience while in prison and are therefore especially likely to experience poverty after being released. Additionally, ex-felons face severe discrimination by potential employers, yet another reason why poverty rates among ex-felons are so high.

The United States has dramatically higher incarceration rates than any other comparable late-industrial country. Moreover, African Americans bear the brunt of these high rates, as do of course younger and less-educated adults. Should poverty be reduced by bringing our incarceration policy into alignment with prevailing practice in other countries? For more information, consult the research of our affiliates on crime and the legal system. If you wish to serve as a volunteer within the prison system, consult for possible placements.