Incarceration Trends Toolkit
Vera Institute of Justice
Dec 17, 2018

Vera’s Incarceration Trends tool was launched to map 45 years of county-level incarceration data and reveal an important truth—the problem of mass incarceration is in all of our backyards.

In order to even better illuminate the new dynamics of mass incarceration and how they differ from state to state and county to county, the tool has been updated to include county-level prison admission and incarceration data with breakdowns by race and gender.


Some quick findings from the data:

  • While New York City’s jail population has declined to its near-lowest level in the recent decades, clear racial disparities persist. In 2015, Black people were jailed in New York City at over ten times the rate as white people, and Latin@s at five times the rate.
  • In 2015, 722 of the 50,000 people in the NY state prison system were sentenced from Broome County. A community of 200,000 people, Broome County sends people to state prison at a rate 45 percent higher than New York City’s (551, versus 380, per 100,000 residents age 15-64).
  • In Oakland and surrounding Alameda County, CA, the jail population declined 33 percent between 2011 and 2015; over the same time period, San Bernardino’s jail population increased 20 percent.
  • Juxtaposing Austin, TX and surrounding Travis County with rural McCulloch County, TX highlights the sharp urban/rural divide. The rate at which people are incarcerated in Texas state prison from Travis County declined 23 percent between 2011 and 2015, while McCulloch County’s prison incarceration rate increased by more than 45 percent. In McCulloch County, the geographical heart of Texas, 2.5 percent of working age males were absent from the county in 2015—because they were in the state prison system.
  • In 2015, 692 people in Mississippi state prison were sentenced from rural Lowndes County. A county of less than 60,000 people, Lowndes had a 2015 prison incarceration rate of 1,763 people per 100,000 residents age 15-64—one of the highest in the state, and nearly double the state average.


Click here to download toolkit.

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