The Cost of Doing Time is a year-long multimedia investigation into the financial repercussions of imprisonment.

Over the past few decades, mass incarceration in the United States has become a seemingly intractable problem. All of the numbers are staggering: the number of adults behind bars (2.2 million); the annual cost of the prison system at the city, state and federal level ($68 billion); the growth of the prison population since 1980 (375%) and the disproportionate impact it has had on some communities.

With record numbers of people serving time in prison, on probation and parole, the inevitable is occurring: there are more people than ever before with criminal records leaving the prison system. And they couldn’t be leaving at a worse time.

Over the course of the next year, I’ll be documenting through radio, print, photos, data, and social media the financial barriers individuals face upon leaving prison and the impact that has on their families and communities.


Thanks to all of the people who have given their time and knowledge. Bobby Constantino; Judge Pamela Dembe and Justice Seamus McCaffery; Daniel Denvir from CityPaper; Sharon Dietrich, Rebecca Vallas, Amy Hirsch, and Michael Hollander at Community Legal Services; Evan Elkin, Tina Chiu and Jules Verdone at VERA; Ellen Feist and Sean Kelley at Eastern State Penitentiary; Tom Isler and Sam Saylor; Emma Jacobs, Tom MacDonald, and Holly Otterbein at WHYY in Philadelphia; Jim MacMillan at Gun Crisis: Philadelphia; Craig McCoy at the Philadelphia Inquirer; Vivian Nixon at Community and College Fellowship; Bruce Western at Harvard University, and Rufus Taylor and his family.

My sincere thanks to Adam Culbreath, Christina Voight, and the Open Society Foundations for their support.


I have worked as a producer and reporter for over 15 years with some of the most creative shows in public radio, including Radio Lab, Studio 360, The Next Big Thing, Weekend America, and most recently Marketplace, where I was the producer of the series “Economy 4.0.”

I’m also an Adjunct Lecturer at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism and have guest taught at the New School, NYU School for Continuing Education, and Brooklyn College. I have a degree in Communication Studies from Concordia University in Montreal, Quebec.

Amanda Aronczyk
Soros Justice Media Fellow, 2012-13