No place in America or the world has a larger prison population per person than the state of Louisiana, according to an explosive report from The Times-Picayune.
Louisiana’s incarceration rate is not only the largest in the country, but is triple the rate in Iran, seven times greater than in China, and 10 times more than Germany’s. A major factor in the southern state’s numbers is the large presence of prisons owned by private companies, often run by rural sheriffs.
$182 million has generated by the prison industry in Louisiana, providing incentive to keep the inmate population at a high volume. Louisiana also leads the country in the most homicides, contributing in the state’s prison population doubling in the past two decades.
Former University of Louisiana-Lafayette professor Burk Foster explained how his state’s attitude toward imprisonment would be very difficult to change.
“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,” Foster said. “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.”
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