Prison Boom: an Update on the Facts

After remaining steady for almost 100 years, imprisonment rates increased from 111 in 1974 to nearly 500 by 2000; anti-prison activist refer to this surge as the ‘prison boom’. Currently, 1.5 million people are in prison and more than 7 million are under some form of correctional control. Not only this 4.5 million people have been to prison at some point in their lives and are now back in their communities suffering from a variety of legalized discrimination. And it’s not only the scale of imprisonment, but also the color. Blacks are six times more likely than whites to be imprisoned and Latinos are twice as likely as whites to be imprisoned. And while racial disparity in imprisonment has been a social reality since emancipation, the prison boom increases the impact of this disparity. In addition to all of this, between 1974 and 1996, women’s chances of going to prison at some point during their lives increased 6 times; men’s increased 3 times during the same period. As a result, while in 1980, only 4% of prisoners were women, by 2000, more than 7% Black women and white men have nearly the same chances of serving time: 3.6% and 4.4% respectively.


478 packages so far in 2021

Packages carrying books of all kinds and composition books to women and trans people locked up across the country! (In 2020—with our capacity drastically cut due to COVID-19 precautions—we sent 1,964 packages. In 2019, we sent 5,117 packages; in 2018, 4,852.) Big, big thanks to all our supporters because we couldn’t do it without you, especially in this most difficult time. (updated April 5, 2021)

Donate money quickly and easily

Or send your check or money order to 4511 N. Hermitage Ave., Chicago, IL 60640. We are a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Your gift may be tax-deductible.

Shop our wish list today

Buy books we need online and we pick them up—no shipping fee, no wasteful packaging. (Or buy a gift card if you can’t decide!) Your purchase benefits not just the people we serve, but one of Chicago’s best indy bookstores.

Follow us on Twitter

  • RT @TDAbolitionist: It’s never too late to join an organization and begin practicing abolition. Check out The Abolitionist Map for opportun… 46 minutes ago
  • RT @wpbp: Do you have a chronic illness/disability AND want to build inside//outside solidarity with ppl with disabilities in prison?? Join… 5 hours ago
  • RT @bellyzine: Read and print and share Sick of It! with all your comrades. Throw them a few $$$'s if you can too. 8 hours ago

Subscribe to our blog and receive notifications of new posts.


<span>%d</span> bloggers like this: