9 Charts that Prove We Need Criminal Justice Reform Now

June 4, 2019

America’s criminal justice system doesn’t really seem all that interested in justice. Although, by practically criminalizing being poor or being a person of color, it definitely has the criminal part covered. We think that every American deserves justice, regardless of their skin color or the amount of money in their bank account, don’t you?

The criminal justice system needs to be reformed now, and these nine charts prove it.


  1. Illustrated stat showing that while the US population is 37% people of color, the US prison population is 67% people of color

    And it disproportionately impacts communities of color

    There is racial bias built right into the justice system. Black people are imprisoned more often than white people and receive longer sentences than white people, even for the same offenses.

  2. Illustrated stat showing that while Black children make up 15.5% of total US school enrollment, they make up 33.4% of school arrests

    Systemic racism kicks in early

    Black students are twice as likely to be arrested or referred to law enforcement as white students. Black students also routinely receive harsher punishments than their white counterparts for the same or similar offenses.

  3. Illustrated stat showing that 1 in 3 Black men will be incarcerated in their lifetime

    And it never lets up — Black men, in particular, are unfairly targeted

    Black men make up only about 13% of the US population, but they represent 35% of the US prison population.

  4. Illustrated stat showing that while Black and white Americans use drugs at similar rates, Black people are arrested at much higher rates

    Just take a look at the racial disparities in drug arrests

    Black people and white people use and sell drugs at similar rates, but Black people are almost three times more likely to be arrested for drug-related offenses.

  5. Illustrated stat showing that US prosecutors are 83% male and 95% white

    Prosecutors have played a huge role in all of this

    We wonder if the fact that black people are incarcerated five times more often than white people, for example, might have something to do with the fact that prosecutors are overwhelmingly white? Prosecutors have also used their power to fuel mass incarceration.

  6. Illustrated stat showing that in 2018, the US incarcerated 465,000 people without convicting them of a crime, at a cost of $140 billion

    Believe it or not, in America you can even get locked up if you’re legally innocent

    Yes, the US locks up people who haven’t been convicted of anything — holding them for days, weeks, months, even years when they can’t afford to pay bail. Hundreds of thousands of them, every year. And it costs a lot of money.

  7. Illustrated stat showing that 50% of all adults in the US have had an immediate family member incarcerated

    You or someone you know probably has a family member who’s been in prison

    Half of Americans have family members who’ve been incarcerated. 6.5 million Americans have an immediate family member in jail or prison right now. Again, communities of color are hit hardest: Black people are 50% more likely than whites to have an incarcerated family member.

  8. And despite what some politicians might want us to believe, none of this has made us safer

    By cutting crime while cutting their incarceration rates, states all across the country have showed that America’s “tough on crime” spree didn’t make us safe. All it did was pack jails and prisons with people of color and the poor—and line the pockets of everyone who profited from their misery.

A majority of Americans wants change, and change is coming. Stand with us and our partners, Advancement Project and Color of Change, and demand justice for ALL Americans.