Pennsylvania’s prison population has increased 850% in the last 40 years.


Forty years ago, Pennsylvania had 7 prisons.  Today we have 25.


Mass incarceration in Pennsylvania has brought profound financial and human costs:


  • On any given day, more than 80,000 Pennsylvanians are in prison or jail.

  • Today, Pennsylvania spends more than $2.4 billion a year to lock-up its citizens.

  • It costs $42,000 to incarcerate someone in a Pennsylvania prison and $16,000 to pay for a year of college at a Pennsylvania state school.

  • Half of the state’s prisoners are Black, even though only 11% of the state’s population is Black.

  • Nearly 25% of Pennsylvania’s prisoners are awaiting trial – they haven’t been convicted of anything, they are jailed while waiting to be seen by a judge.

The impact of mass incarceration on safety in Pennsylvania has been modest, at best.  Crime rates have gone up and down. They are largely independent of the number of people in prison. Violent crime rates in Pennsylvania are now same as in the mid-1970s, before mass incarceration began.


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