People in New York State Prisons

From dismantling the notorious Rockefeller Drug Laws to raising the age of criminal responsibility, in recent years New York has taken significant steps to undo the harmful criminal legal policies it once embraced. As a result, New York's prison population fell from more than 73,000 people incarcerated in prisons on any given day in 1999 to fewer than 44,000 people in February 2020, before the COVID-19 pandemic hit New York. Then the prison population began to fall faster. But thousands of New Yorkers—including more than 4,900 elderly people and 2,100 people who have been in prison since at least the 1990s, the height of New York's draconian laws—remain in prison across the Empire State. The Vera Institute of Justice designed this tool to help people see, in real time, who New York incarcerates in prisons. The underlying data is from the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision website.

The visualizations on this page display information about the people held in prison across New York State on Wednesday, February 17, 2021.




The following tool allows you to compare prison incarceration rates between counties. Using the number of people in prison and the county population, the tool calculates how many people would be in prison if the chosen county had the same incarceration rate as the comparison county.




Sample: Everyone in Prison (32,702)

Sample: People Admitted for New Criminal Charges (25,498)

Sample: People Serving Indeterminate Sentences (11,569)

Indeterminate sentences are sentences with a range of years, such as 3 to 5 years or 25 years to life. People serving indeterminate sentences will have to go before the parole board for release.

Sample: People Serving Non-Life Indeterminate Sentences (6,375)

Sample: People Serving Determinate Sentences (13,692)

Determinate sentences are sentences with a set term, such as 10 years. People become eligible for release when they have served 85 percent of the sentence.