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Issues

Prisons

Inmates participate in a study program

We will work with partners to develop bold ideas to transform culture, improve conditions, and reduce the reach of our corrections system.

The United States is home to 5 percent of the world’s population and nearly 25 percent of its prisoners, and our prisons are excessively punitive, often subjecting people to inhumane conditions. We incarcerate people of color at disproportionately higher rates. And because few prisons offer treatment, job training, or cultures of respect and dignity, many people are set up to fail when they come home.

Working with partners, we’re developing an ambitious strategy for reforming state and federal prisons. As prisons are among the most understudied and opaque public institutions in our country, we are exploring opportunities to invest in projects that can effect change. We want to open these institutions to public view, develop cultures of respect and dignity, safely reduce the prison population, and better prepare people for success in their communities. And we’re interested in working with state governments to make reentry more successful, particularly when it comes to improving health care, education, and employment prospects, both in prison and after release.

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Image: Incarcerated students participate in a study program in Santa Ana, California. (Spencer Grant/Getty Images)

2.2M
Number of incarcerated adults in the U.S.
500%
Increase in the incarcerated population over the past 40 years
>95%
Proportion of people incarcerated in state prisons who will eventually return to their communities
24%
Drop in U.S. prison admissions since 2006, thanks in part to state reforms

Requests for Proposals