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Incarcerated Populations

The scope of this guide is meant to inform all who interact with it on related issues to mass incarceration and link interested parties to data and advocacy resources.

A light blue background with Duquesne University colors (blue and red) with the title "Incarcerated Populations" in the center.


Mass incarceration is, fundamentally, a human rights issue. Millions of Americans lose their rights and privileges upon entry in the US criminal legal system each year, including voting rights, employment rights, access to health care, parental rights, and a right to privacy.

Understanding the vulnerability and needs of incarcerated (and formerly incarcerated) people is important for all individuals who work with the general public, regardless of discipline. This guide is designed to support anyone interested in conducting research or participating in advocacy initiatives related to individuals who are incarcerated.


Statement Regarding Age Demographics

The author of this guide acknowledges the multifaceted experiences and injustices that younger demographics (children and young adults) face in the US criminal legal system. While these groups are impacted by the same issues and often face similar demographic trends (particularly relating to race/ethnicity and LGBTQ+ identity), these groups are not covered in this guide. The present guide provides information and resources specific to adult populations. 


Terms to Know

When discussing issues related to the US criminal legal system and corrections, there are two terms frequently used. These concepts, mass incarceration and the prison industrial complex, are defined in the graphic below. Select the term bubbles to be directed to more information on each issue.