Who Pays?

The True Cost of Incarceration on Families

Led by Forward Together and the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights with the support of Research Action Design and 20 grassroots partners, Who Pays? The True Cost of Incarceration on Families proves that the costs of locking up millions of people is much deeper than we think – when we lock up individuals we also break apart their families and communities. This new report reveals the overwhelming debt, mental and physical ailments and severed family bonds that are some of the hidden consequences of incarceration in the United States. The situation is dire, but a better approach is possible according to Who Pays? which suggests critical and achievable family-centered reforms.

This report comes from a yearlong community-driven research effort across 14 states. The research team listed below documented the stories, struggles, and experiences of nearly 2,000 formerly incarcerated people and family members with loved ones behind bars by collecting over 1,000 surveys and conducting 34 focus groups.


Basic needs infographic

Learn more about the project, read the report, and share powerful infographics at whopaysreport.org.