The Prison Quiz Challenge

1. Approximately how many prisoners are there in the world? 

a. 400,000     

b. 800,000 

c. 9,000,000 

d. 17,000,000 

2. Approximately how many prisoners are there in the U.S.? 

a. 500,000 

b. 1,000,000 

c. 2,000,000 

d. 7,000,000 

3. What is the current ratio of prisoners to “free” adults in the U.S.?

a. 1 prisoner per 2,000 

b. 1 prisoner per 1,000 

c. 1 prisoner per 100 

d. 1 prisoner per 50 

4. There are now more prisoners in the U.S. than which of the following: 

a. farmers 

b. police officers 

c. lawyers 

d. all of the above 

5. Between 2003-2005, over 1,000 deaths were reported by state and local agencies during arrests. What percentage of those deaths were homicides by law enforcement officers?

a. 10%     

b. 35%     

c. 55%     

d. 70% 

6. Of the total 300 million U.S. citizens, around 18% are non-whites. What is the percentage of non-white prisoners? 

a. 15% 

b. 25% 

c. 40% 

d. 60% 

7. What group is being incarcerated at the fastest rate in the U.S.? 

a. African-American men 

b. women 

c. Latin Americans 

d. Native Americans 

8. Currently, what percentage of prisoners can we expect to be released? 

a. 25% 

b. 65% 

c. 70% 

d. 95% 

9. What is the percentage of formerly-incarcerated people that are still unemployed after a year? 

a. 25% 

b. 35% 

c. 50% 

d. 60% 

10. Physical contact only occurs through a security door, when restraints are removed, or the subject is strip-searched. Monitoring is conducted via video cameras and listening devices. Water and light are provided via remote control. All feeding occurs through tray slots. These conditions are typical in: 

a. factory farms 

b. research labs 

c. public schools 

d. solitary confinement 

11. Are dogs used for “cell extraction” i.e., getting unwilling prisoners out of their cells, in domestic U.S. prisons? 

a. no 

b. yes 

c. only in federal institutions 

d. only on Sundays 

e. when the dogs are hungry 

12. Which crime will get a stiffer sentence? 

a. embezzling $5,000,000 

b. shoplifting a donut



1.  (c)  9,000,000 


2. (c)  2,000,000 

Source: Bureau of Justice Statistics Correctional Surveys 2005 

3. (d) 1 prisoner per 50.  Actually it is worse, 1 in every 32 adults is now in prison, or 3% of the U.S. adult population, with more than 700 new inmates joining them weekly. 

Source: U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) 

4.  (d)  All of the above— a + b + c = 2.5 million. 

Sources: a. 960,000 farmers; b. 840,000 police and detectives,; c. 735,000 lawyers 

5.  (c) Homicides by law enforcement officers made up 55% (1,095) of all deaths during arrests by state and local agencies. 

Source: Bureau of Justice Statistics, 10/07 Deaths in Custody Reporting Program NCJ 219534, 

6.  (d)  More than 60%.  For black males in their 20s, 1 in every 8 is in prison or jail on any given day. 

Sources:;; Pam Oliver’s Racial Disparities in Criminal Justice, UW Sociology website: www. 

7.  (b)  Women’s prison populations went up 757 percent since 1977. The rapid growth of women’s incarceration at nearly double the rate for men over the past two decades is disproportionately due to the war on drugs.  


8.  (d)  95%. However, 2 of every 3 adults released will return to prison within 3 years. 

Source:  Bureau of  Justice Statistics 

9. (d)  60% 

Source: WI State Journal. Note: 65% of employers would not hire a person with a criminal record, regardless of the offense. 

10.  (d) Solitary confinement.  Furthermore, exercise in most extended control facilities is limited to 3 to 7 hours (in one-hour intervals) per week, generally in an indoor space or small, secure, attached outdoor space.  

Sources: Supermax Prisons: Overview and General Considerations, January 1999/Technical Assistance #98, National Institute of Corrections, U.S. Department of Justice & Kevin Pyle, Lab USA: Illuminated Documents (Brooklyn, New York, Autonomedia, 2001) 

11.  (b)  Policies in Connecticut, Delaware, Iowa, South Dakota and Utah allow guards to use “aggressive, unmuzzled” dogs to compel uncooperative inmates to leave their cells. Dogs may be ordered to bite prisoners if they resist. 

Source: Human Rights Watch, October 2006, 

12.  (b)  Steal a 52¢ donut, get 15+ years; steal millions and you get about 4 years. 

Source #1: St. Louis Post dispatch, 2007: Scott A. Masters, the “doughnut man,” was accused of shoplifting the pastry and pushing a store worker who tried to stop him. The worker was unhurt. But with that shove, his shoplifting turned into a strong-arm robbery.  Masters faces 5 to 15 years in prison for his crime. In fact, because Masters has a prior record, he could get a sentence of 30 years to life. 

Source #2: Houston Chronicle, Sept. 28, 2006: Kristen Hays and Tom Fowler. Andrew Fastow, who had conspired to help Enron manipulate earnings while skimming millions of dollars for himself, after pleading guilty to two counts of conspiracy, got 6 years.  Fastow could shave up to nearly 2 years from that term with time off for good behavior. 


Prepared by Camy Matthay for the Wisconsin Books to Prisoners Project.