Prison Policy Initiative

Challenging mass incarceration and over-criminalization through research, advocacy & organizing

Grantee Cohort Spring 2020, Spring 2021

Location National

Since Art for Justice Fund’s first grant in July 2020, Prison Policy Initiative (PPI) has published four major reports and 29 research briefings, all designed to change the public conversation around mass incarceration and create ideological, factual and messaging tools for the press, policymakers and advocates.

Highlights include:

– Mass Incarceration, COVID-19, and Community Spread, a report providing the first national estimates of how prisons and jails contributed to increased cases of the coronavirus, both inside and outside correctional facilities (at the county, multi-county area, state and national levels), with an estimate that more than half a million COVID-19 cases in the summer of 2020 were directly linked to mass incarceration.

– Winnable criminal justice reforms: Promising state reform issues for 2021: PPI lists 27 winnable, high-impact criminal justice reforms that are ripe for passage in state legislatures this year, including specific ways to expand alternatives to policing and incarceration and reduce the footprint of probation and parole.

– A discussion of the Biden administration’s criminal justice platform, including strengths and weaknesses of the platform’s plans for clemency, reentry support, drug courts and juvenile justice reform.

– Two state victories in PPI’s campaign to end prison gerrymandering: Illinois will count incarcerated people at home for the 2030 districting cycle, and California’s independent redistricting committee voted unanimously across party lines to end prison gerrymandering.

Prison Policy Initiative is at a period of exciting growth and expansion. This year, with help from Art for Justice, PPI will continue producing cutting-edge research and advocacy that set the agenda for criminal justice reform and abolition efforts across the country. The organization’s research advances campaigns on pocketbook issues affecting incarcerated people and their families (including reducing the cost of jail and prison phone calls, eliminating medical co-pays and ending prison gerrymandering) and assists grassroots advocates with technical skills around data. PPI also plans to create data-visuals and continue to update reports and produce briefings and reports in response to new Bureau of Justice Statistics data releases, current events and the most pressing long-term criminal justice issues.