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What State Leads the World in Prison Population?

jailbird 12, flickr

What state leads the entire planet in throwing people in the slammer?

If you said Louisiana, congratulations, you win.

According to the New Orleans Times-Picayune:

The state imprisons more of its people, per head, than any of its US counterparts. First among Americans means first in the world. Louisiana’s incarceration rate is nearly triple Iran’s, seven times China’s and 10 times Germany’s.

The soaring rate is due, in part, to the fact housing inmates has turned into big business for states with ‘for-profit’ facilities at their disposal. These privately-owned facilities, which are leased by the state, help contribute to a nearly $200 million-a-year industry.

By skimming money off the top of these prison operations, some states are able to fund the majority of their law enforcement’s yearly budgetary requirements. And it is perfectly legal.

So it stands to reason that with many jobs dependent on the amount of working inmates within a particular institution, these prisons require a consistent amount of human surplus to ensure their survival.

Harsh sentencing guidelines are feeding that surplus.

There are many prominent community and political members who do not believe that harsh sentencing guidelines should be used as a means to serve in the interest of punishments and public safety. Yet, most of the states with the highest incarceration rates are showing no signs of weaning off their prison dependency any time soon.


1. Louisiana – 867 per 100,000 residents
2. Mississippi – 686
3. Oklahoma – 654
4. Alabama – 648
5. Texas – 648
6. Arizona – 572
7. Florida – 556
8. Arkansas – 552
9. Missouri – 508
10. South Carolina – 495


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