Louisiana is the world’s prison capital. The state imprisons more of its people, per head, than any of its U.S. counterparts. First among Americans also means first in the world (the U.S. has more prisoners then Russia and China combined).
Louisiana’s incarceration rate is nearly triple Iran’s, seven times China’s and 10 times Germany’s.
Here’s a few startling facts:
- The state imprisons 1,619 people per 100,000 — more than any nation in the world including the U.S. (730), Russia (525), Iran (333) and China (122).
1 in 86 adults in doing time.
- Among blacks, 1 in 14 is behind bars.
- 1 in 7 is either in prison, on parole or on probation.
- Each inmate is worth $24.39 a day in state money, and sheriffs trade them like horses, unloading a few extras on a colleague who has openings.
- If the inmate count dips, sheriffs bleed money. Their constituents lose jobs. The prison lobby ensures this does not happen by thwarting nearly every reform that could result in fewer people behind bars.
- Law enforcements is financed in large part by the total number of prisoners kept.
- Those profits, in turn, are used to finance the budgets of Louisiana law enforcement in the form of new squad cars, guns and laptops.
“You have people who are so invested in maintaining the present system — not just the sheriffs, but judges, prosecutors, other people who have links to it,” said Burk Foster, a former professor at the University of Louisiana-Lafayette and an expert on Louisiana prisons. “They don’t want to see the prison system get smaller or the number of people in custody reduced, even though the crime rate is down, because the good old boys are all linked together in the punishment network, which is good for them financially and politically.
During the Gulf Spill disaster, BP used prison labor to clean up beaches.