World Facts

Incarceration Rates By State

Louisiana has the highest incarceration rate in the United States followed by Oklahoma and Mississippi while Maine has the lowest rate.

The United States of America is by far the country with the most incarcerated prisoners of the world with a whopping 716 prisoners per 100,000 person population, this number started growing and growing since 2008. In other countries this rate drops to less than 300 people in prison for a population of 100.000. Although the United States of America represent a rough 5% of the world’s population it represents almost a 25% of the world´s incarcerated population of 9.800.000 prisoners and is the top of the list mainly because the American justice system keeps their inmates for longer periods of time in prison.

That leaves an incredible 2.300.000 prisoners approximately of a population of 311 million people in local jails, state prisons and federal prison meaning that more than one American out of hundred is being held by the justice system. This has not only overcrowded prisons but also taken a toll on the costs of a penal system that keeps growing and getting bigger for the government to maintain even though it has been proved to not be the most efficient way to ensure safety to the rest of the population.

In the different states of America the rates differ broadly with Louisiana surpassing the rest and contrarily Maine staying in the bottom. In California there was a drop in the percentage of incarcerations per year for the first time in thirty eight years. Why is this? California's massive overhaul of its penal system to transfer responsibility for low-level criminal offenders to counties created a shift away from locking up people in prison or jail. There are many reasons for this to happen like type of offence, their duration, their rate of occurrence and the amount of space in county jails. For example there is a famous American law called the three strikes law which make it mandatory for courts to impose a 25 year sentence of imprisonment when an offender of a serious criminal offense does so routinely.

Another reason is the war on drugs, which has not just change from a 5 digit number to a 6 digit number of more than 550,000 offenders that keep increasing per year in federal prisons. A study shows that more than 1 in 10 Americans have been charged for a drug related offense, meaning more than 30 million Americans have become “drug offenders” from users of crack to possession of cocaine with an obligatory 5 year sentence in both cases with no care on the big disproportionality between both of the offenses and the communities in which it is normally seen. This also affects young people in their 20s and 30s more than the rest of the population.

The rate of women has increased double what the men population has increased for incarcerations per year making them 7% of the active prisoners in state and federal prisons. Nonviolent acts also increased with the support of various presidents making the number grow incrementally each year. Also women and men of different races like African American and Latinos suffer of harsh disproportionate convictions versus those of different races (800% vs 400%) under offenses such as conspiracy, accomplice, possession and liability of criminality.

We can conclude that in evidence of the previously stated the United States of America penal system should have more limited and specific use of jails and correctional facilities to make this number smaller and that way use tax money for things that will ensure the safety of the public and the actual correction of offenders.

Incarceration Rates By State

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RankStateper 100K adults
1Louisiana1,420
2Oklahoma1,300
3Mississippi1,270
4Alabama1,230
5Georgia1,220
6Texas1,130
7Arizona1,090
8Arkansas1,010
9Florida990
10New Mexico980
11Delaware960
12Tennessee960
13Kentucky950
14Missouri950
15Alaska940
16Nevada930
17Indiana910
18Virginia910
19South Carolina880
20Idaho860
21Pennsylvania850
22Wyoming840
23South Dakota820
24Colorado790
25Michigan790
26Ohio780
27Wisconsin780
28Kansas760
29Montana760
30California750
31Oregon740
32North Carolina730
33Maryland710
34Illinois700
35West Virginia660
36Connecticut620
37Utah620
38Nebraska600
39Washington550
40New Jersey540
41Iowa530
42New York530
43Hawaii510
44North Dakota470
45New Hampshire460
46Vermont410
47Massachusetts400
48Rhode Island400
49Minnesota380
50Maine350

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