Open Knowledge International

The Urban Institute

  • The Urban Institute
The Urban Institute

##The problem Incarceration in the United States is an 80 billion dollar a year industry. The United States has some of the most lengthy sentences and highest per capita rates of imprisonment in the world. America’s prison system is driven by profit and not by rehabilitation and public welfare. Those in prison are a voiceless population, whose inability to capture the public’s attention is further reduced by their low socioeconomic status and (largely) non-white race.

Open data is particularly useful for those social phenomena and social injustices that are quite literally out of the sight. Those that are incarcerated, much like illegal immigrants, the homeless, and the trafficked, are relegated to non-entity status. Their problems are supposedly not those of the law-abiding, responsible citizen. Any initial step to undoing this stigma requires quite simply that these unseen people become seen.

##The solution The Urban Institute used an infographic for federal and stateprison levels that show forecasts of incarceration rates based on potential legislative changes to the lengths of prison sentences for different kinds of offenses.

This use of open data to create a forecasting model allows one to see how legislative changes, if enacted, would impact the state of US incarceration.

Data Used: Urban Institute Dataset Credit: The Urban Institute

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