Well, if you’re coming to this trivia question after reading today’s newsletter, you may have guessed that Louisiana is the state with the highest incarceration rate simply because we put a note about New Orleanians taking to the streets for Mardi Gras on this day in 1827. We thought you might think that, and if you did, you’re not too far off.
According to the ACLU, “After spending years as the prison capital of the world, a new report indicates that Louisiana has finally shed this shameful title thanks to the historic package of criminal justice reforms passed last year (2017). According to the Prison Policy Initiative, Louisiana’s incarceration rate is now the second highest in the nation, below that of Oklahoma.” Oklahoma currently imprisons one out of every 100 people in the state.
Here’s the bigger picture: Having the highest incarceration rate in the United States means that Oklahoma also attains the dubious distinction of leading the world in imprisonments according to HPPR. BBC also notes that, “half of the world’s prison population of about nine million is held in the US, China or Russia. Prison rates in the US are the world’s highest, at 724 people per 100,000. In Russia, the rate is 581.” With that said, there are some prison reforms in motion. Since laws were passed last year, our total prison population has dropped by 7.6 percent, and the number of people imprisoned for nonviolent crimes has decreased by 20 percent.