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Home > Trend Watch > 2014 > May 9 > Visualizing the Global Prison Population

Trend Watch

Perspective on the buzz

One of the most disturbing trends of our time is the state of prison systems around the world. Emerging as an unfortunate leader in incarceration is the United States, whose prison population of 2.2 million people is greater than some entire nations.

Here are some interesting visualizations: a tool for visualizing worldwide incarceration data,

And a piece with visuals from Fast Company summarizing key takeaways for the U.S. system. Says the Fast Company article:

The costs of mass incarceration have quadrupled in the last 40 years, according to a new report from the National Research Council this week. That same study concluded that U.S. prison practices disproportionately punish African Americans over whites, and the United States has no choice but to reduce its incarceration rate. "We are concerned that the United States is past the point where the number of people in prison can be justified by social benefits," NRC committee chair and John Jay College of Criminal Justice president told reporters.

Of course, prison ministry has a rich tradition in America, with many stories of redemption even in the midst of broken lives and a broken system. For one outstanding story, be sure to read Leadership's classic 2011 story, "Making Ministers of Inmates," on what's happening in Angola prison, America's largest maximum security penitentiary.

For more Leadership on justice system issues and ministry, also read "Going to Samaria," and "Restoring Relationships."

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