There are a number of ways to put a price tag on the United States’s shameful mass incarceration system. On the most superficial level, $80 billion is how much it costs to keep more than 2.4 million people in our jails and prisons. Then there are the costs to those incarcerated themselves, who often find they’re denied basic civil rights and struggle to find employment, education, and housing for years to come after their release.
But that’s really only the beginning, according to a groundbreaking new report from the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, Forward Together, and Research Action Design. Surveys of hundreds of formerly incarcerated people and their families in 14 states show that the true costs — emotional and financial — “continue long after incarceration ends and reach far beyond the individual being
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