Mass Incarceration in the US Viral Video


Though many of us may be aware of the widespread societal harm caused by the prison-industrial complex, as is the case with many complex issues, it’s helpful to compile and organize the multitude of relevant data through infographics or short videos to drive the message home for others who may be less familiar with the issues. This is exactly what the Vlogbrothers did in collaboration with Visual.y, Kurzgesagt and The Prison Policy Initiative with this recently released video:

Notes from the vlogbrothers YouTube channel:

Thanks to Visually ( for facilitating the creation of this video, to for the animation, and to The Prison Policy Initiative for research help and fact checking. (

It wasn’t easy to pick this topic, but I believe that America’s 40-year policy of mass incarceration is deeply unethical, not very effective, and promotes the security of the few at the expense of the many.

It’s hard for me, as a person who was born into privilege, to imagine the challenges convicted criminals face, often for crimes that are utterly non-violent.

If you’re feeling like you want to do something about this, I’m mostly just making this video as an informational resource and to encourage people to think of felons not as bad, scary people but just as people.

The people at The Prison Policy Initiative were very helpful in the creation of this video and if you want to learn more about their work and how to get involved go to


A lot of people have been asking why I didn’t cover race in this video. It is absolutely true that our justice system has serious racial bias at every step: arrest, prosecution, conviction, and sentencing. But as I researched this video (I started this project three months ago) it was very clear that I wouldn’t be doing anyone any favors if I tried to make this a comprehensive study of the US criminal justice system.

Racism, the war on drugs, sentencing laws, class bias…I found that as soon as I started hitting those topics there was no way to do it justice without a lot more time. It’s not a simple discussion (though many would have you believe that it is). So I decided to make this video a top-down introduction for people who know very little about our incarceration policy (the vast majority of people.) I wanted to discuss how this policy is bad for /everyone/ whether you’re black or white, privileged or not.

Do I feel bad about not talking about race? Absolutely…but I had a goal and I determined what I thought was the best path for accomplishing it.


This entry was posted in Activism, culture, divide and conquer, Drug War, Film, History, Law, police state, Privatization, Social Control, society, Video, wasted taxpayer dollars and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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