Tuesday, September 21, 2021

America's Falling Prison Population

The Marshall Project has used 2020 census data to compare the incarceration rates of different U.S. counties and to visualize the trend in incarceration rates since the 2010 census. The headline story in the Marshall Project's analysis of the data is that There Are Fewer People Behind Bars Now Than 10 Years Ago.

The Marshall Project's analysis includes two maps. One (pictured above) uses proportional circles to show the number of incarcerated people in each county. Another cartogram map shows the change in the incarceration rate in every state, from the 2010 to 2020 censuses.Only four states - West Virginia, Alaska, Nebraska and Arkansas - had a higher incarceration rate in 2020. In every other state the incarceration rate was lower in 2020 than it was in 2010. 

The Marshall Project warns that the effect of the Covid pandemic on the court system and on prison and jail populations means that it may be "impossible to draw any long-term conclusions from the apparent drop seen in Census data." 

Last month CNN used the newly released 2020 census data to create a racial dot map of America. The interactive map in Race and ethnicity across the nation uses colored dots to visualize the population density and racial mix of every neighborhood in the country. Ben Schmidt's All of US is another interactive dot map which allows you to compare population data from the 2020 and 2010 US censuses.Ben's 'dot' map actually uses Wee People rather than dots to represent the U.S. population.

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