I keep checking to make sure that that statement is not an exaggeration, but it seems to be true.
Most of us know that the U.S.A. has the highest incarceration rate on Earth, and which of our 50 states has the highest? Louisiana.
Here's a quick overview:
One in 86 Louisiana adults is in the prison system, which is nearly double the national average.
Louisiana leads the nation in the percentage of its prisoners serving life without parole.
Louisiana spends less on local inmates than any other state.
More than 50 percent of Louisiana’s inmates are in local prisons, which is more than any other state. The next highest state is Kentucky at 33 percent. The national average is 5 percent.
Nearly two-thirds of Louisiana’s prisoners are nonviolent offenders. The national average is less than half.
*In the early 1990s, the state was under a federal court order to reduce overcrowding, but instead of releasing prisoners or loosening sentencing guidelines, the state incentivized the building of private prisons. But, in what the newspaper called “a uniquely Louisiana twist,” most of the prison entrepreneurs were actually rural sheriffs. They saw a way to make a profit and did.
The last point kind of brings to light how this situation developed.
According to The Times-Picayune (New Orleans' main newspaper) : “In five years, about half of the state’s ex-convicts end up behind bars again.”
Full article here: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/26/op...its.html?_r=2&
Here's more on the difference between Louisiana local prisons vs. the usual American prisons: http://www.npr.org/2012/06/05/154352...prison-capital
What's most fascinating about this news to me, when I first heard it, was that I've been living in this society for several years, and suddenly I'm aware that this environment around me has the highest prison rate on Earth...! Doesn't feel any different--that's the weird part. It doesn't feel more oppressive or shadowed than other parts of the U.S.A.
I wanted to share this story, for people who hadn't heard.