Prison Industrial Complex

How many more Americans are institutionalized in mental hospitals than in prisons & jails?

  1. How accurate was your prediction?

  2. What most surprised you about this data?

  3. What two trends do you identify in the chart?

  4. Explain one cause of each trend?

  5. Explain one consequence of each trend?

  6. Is this good news or bad news?

  7. Do most people know this information?

  8. Do you imagine that some of the people locked up in prisons and jails should actually be in mental institutions?

  9. Why do you think we decided to incarcerate people who were once institutionalized?

  10. What do you think the racial demographics of these institutionalized populations look like?

  11. Has this been a big issue in the 2016 presidential campaign?

  12. What politicians or other individuals make policy decisions about issues of mental health and incarceration?

  13. Do you think you'd rather be in a prison or in a mental institution?

  14. What would be a good title for this chart?

  15. How do you think America's rate of institutionalization compares to other countries?*


Learning Extension

Read the Vox article about the prison industrial complex.


Action Extension

Listen to the author read this Mother Jones article on mental health and prisons and share a link to the article on social media. Warning: this article is intense.

*Far more Americans are incarcerated than any other country in the world.


Bonus Charts