For Families of the Incarcerated, Conviction Comes With a Cost
Dec 07, 2015 — Spatial Information Design Lab

Al Jazeera's Ranjani Chakrabortty recently wrote an article about the impacts of incarceration on families and communities that drew on our Million Dollar Blocks project: "Each year, the U.S. spends $80 billion to incarcerate more than 2.4 million people. But when it comes to communities, the costs are even more staggering. A disproportionate number of inmates come from just a handful of neighborhoods in the country’s biggest cities. In this Brooklyn community, Augustine’s story is all too common. Brownsville has one of the highest concentrations of “million-dollar blocks” — places where the state is paying more than $1 million a year to incarcerate the residents of a single census block — in the country. And often, according to research from the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, Forward Together, and Research Action Design, the burden of mass incarceration is left to women."

Read More.

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Chicago's Million Dollar Blocks
Jun 25, 2015 — Spatial Information Design Lab

A new project led by Dr. Daniel Cooper of Adler University and Dr. Ryan Lugalia-Hollon, a writer and strategist, drews on our work on Million Dollar Blocks to map the incarceration landscape in Chicago. They used data collected by the Chicago Justice Project and built on research methods developed by the Spatial Information Design Lab. Through their research they've found that between 2005 and 2009 there are 851 blocks in Chicago with over $1 million committed to prision sentences.

See their full project here. 

 

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"How Mass Incarceration Creates ‘Million Dollar Blocks’ in Poor Neighborhoods" - Washington Post
Jul 30, 2015 — Spatial Information Design Lab

Emily Badger of the Washington Post reported the Million Dollar Blocks project "There are neighborhoods on the West Side of Chicago where nearly every block has been painted red — a sign, on the above map, that someone there was sentenced to time in an Illinois state prison between 2005 and 2009 for a nonviolent drug offense.

On several dark-red blocks [mapped here in Chicago], the missing residents are so many — or their sentences so long — that taxpayers have effectively committed more than a million dollars to incarcerate people who once lived there.

This is the perverse form that public investment takes in many poor, minority neighborhoods: "million dollar blocks," to use a bleak term first coined in New York by Laura Kurgan at Columbia University and Eric Cadora of the Justice Mapping Center. Our penchant for incarcerating people has grown so strong that, in many cities, taxpayers frequently spend more than a million dollars locking away residents of a single city block."

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