Prison Policy Initiative, Inc

Northampton, MA   |  https://www.prisonpolicy.org

Mission

The Prison Policy Initiative challenges over-criminalization and mass incarceration through research, advocacy, and organizing. We show how the United States' excessive and unequal use of punishment and institutional control harms individuals and undermines our communities and national well-being.

Ruling year info

2006

Principal Officer

Mr. Peter Wagner

Main address

PO Box 127

Northampton, MA 01061 USA

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EIN

20-3671130

NTEE code info

Research Institutes and/or Public Policy Analysis (R05)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Communication

Programs and results

What we aim to solve

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Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

End prison gerrymandering

The Census Bureau's practice of counting two million incarcerated people in the wrong place encourages state and local governments to dilute the votes of everyone who doesn’t live next to a large prison. Our national movement to end the practice is growing stronger daily.

Population(s) Served
Adults

Some children have to pay $1/minute for a call home from an incarcerated parent. Why? Because prisons and jails benefit by granting telephone contracts to the company that will charge families the most.

Population(s) Served
Families

All too often, private companies and county jails work together to replace traditional in-person family visits with expensive video chats and grainy computer images.

Population(s) Served
Families
Adults

These zones blanket urban areas in mandatory increased sentencing areas, disproportionately punishing people of color and failing to protect children.

Population(s) Served
Adults
Ethnic and racial groups

At the height of the War on Drugs, Congress required states to begin automatically suspending driver’s licenses for drug offenses unrelated to driving. Our research on license suspensions has found that these suspensions are counterproductive and unnecessary. They make roads more dangerous, waste taxpayer and law enforcement resources, and inhibit people with previous involvement in the criminal justice system from fulfilling personal, familial, and legal responsibilities that require driving.

Population(s) Served
Adults

Beyond our specific campaigns for justice, we are fueling the larger movement for criminal justice reform with key data that illustrates that mass incarceration is both unprecedented and counterproductive. This includes a report comparing each state's incarceration of women to that of other nations, showing that even those states with relatively progressive policies are out of line with the international community. We also produced a report on the pre-incarceration incomes of people in jail, showing that bail bonds are unaffordable for the typical detained defendant. And each year, we publish a report, "Mass Incarceration: The Whole Pie", to provide a big-picture view of the country's disparate systems of confinement.

Population(s) Served
Adults

One out of every three people who were behind bars last night was confined in a jail, two out of every three correctional facilities is a jail, and almost every person released from a correctional facility today was released from a jail. Jails are a main component of mass incarceration, yet the scant attention paid to jails and jail policy is itself a key impediment to reform.

Population(s) Served
Adults

Where we work

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

The non-profit, non-partisan Prison Policy Initiative produces cutting edge research to expose the broader harm of mass criminalization, and then sparks advocacy campaigns to create a more just society. Our work is designed around two goals: (1) achieving real change on specific campaigns that show how mass incarceration is hurting specific communities and society in general and (2) fueling the national movement against mass incarceration with key data.

The Prison Policy Initiative fuels the movement against mass incarceration with critically needed insights and data like our National Incarceration Briefing Series (a series of reports that help the public understand that mass incarceration is both unprecedented and counterproductive) and an interactive map that offers one-click access to all the graphs and other research we've produced about incarceration in each state. We also empower grassroots groups, journalists and policymakers to fully engage in and propel criminal justice reform with our research clearinghouse (a database of thousands of criminal justice research articles) and our powerful visual data.

The full-time staff members at the Prison Policy Initiative are criminal justice researchers who know how to turn hard data into a good story that incites change. The staff are well-versed in a variety of criminal justice issues, and frequently work in interdisciplinary coalitions at the intersections between the justice system and issues such as voting rights, communications policy, or the geography of communities. Several staff members are attorneys, and the Prison Policy Initiative has contributed to defending some of the major civil rights victories of the decade. Prison Policy Initiative staff are also experienced with GIS technology and mapping, effectively using spatial data to illustrate how heavy-handed criminal justice policy compromises communities.

The Prison Policy Initiative has:
-led six states (Maryland, New York, California, Delaware, Nevada and Washington) and 200+ local governments to reject the practice of “prison gerrymandering" that gave extra representation to the legislators who had prisons in their districts and diluted the votes of everyone who did not live next to a prison.
-led the Federal Communications Commission to lower the cost of interstate calls home from prisons and jails from $1/minute to $0.11-22/minute.
-led Massachusetts to become the second state in the nation to roll back its sentencing enhancement zones law (aka school zones) that gave harsher prison sentences for drug offenses committed in dense urban areas.
-protected in-person family visits in California, Dallas, Texas, and Portland, Oregon from the predatory video visitation industry.
-catalyzed legislation in five states, D.C., and in Congress to reduce or end automatic driver's license suspensions for drug offenses unrelated to driving.

Financials

Prison Policy Initiative, Inc
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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

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Prison Policy Initiative, Inc

Board of directors
as of 2/26/2021
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Nora Demleitner

Eric Lotke

Neelum Arya

Epstein Program in Public Interest Law and Policy, UCLA School of Law

Annette Johnson

NYU Langone Medical Center

Rachel Bloom

Jason Stanley

Yale University

Nora Demleitner

Washington and Lee University School of Law

Daniel Kopf

Quartz

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? Yes
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? Yes
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? Yes
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? Yes

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 01/21/2020

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? GuideStar partnered on this section with CHANGE Philanthropy and Equity in the Center.

Leadership

The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
White/Caucasian/European
Gender identity
Male
Sexual orientation
Decline to state
Disability status
Decline to state

Race & ethnicity

Gender identity

 

Sexual orientation

No data

Disability

No data