Hmmm! New Data Shows Louisiana Incarcerates Citizens at Five Times the Rate of Iran

No one does mass incarceration better than the good ole U.S. of A., and some states, Louisiana especially, incarcerate people like there is no tomorrow. A recent chart put together by the Prison Policy Initiative illustrates the numbers in stark terms, comparing individual states with whole countries. Louisiana is followed by Mississippi, Georgia, Texas, and Arizona. Thirty-seven states incarcerate people at a higher per capita rate than Cuba, the first country after the U.S. on the list. Even liberal bastion Massachusetts incarcerates more people per capita than that oppressive Islamic republic of Iran. 


Apart from illustrating states with the highest, and absurdest mass incarceration rates, a trend that has been rising since the '70s, the chart shows the U.S. incarcerates people at 5 times the rate of other countries. So, we win that race to nowhere handily. The U.S.  incarcerates 716 people for every 100,000 residents. 

As Prison Policy Initiative points out, the rates of incarceration have nothing to do with crime rates. "Our level of crime is comparable to those of other stable, internally secure, industrialized nations, the United States has an incarceration rate far higher than any other country," the group's recent report shows. "Nearly all of the countries with relatively high incarceration rates share the experience of recent large-scale internal conflict. But the United States, which has enjoyed a long history of political stability and hasn’t had a civil war in nearly a century and a half, tops the list."

We're number 1, as everyone was chanting up until the U.S.'s recent World Cup defeat.

After Cuba, the next biggest incarcerating country is Rwanda, (492 out of 100,000) which is still dealing with the aftermath of its genocide, with thousands imprisoned or awaiting trial. 

Russia used to be a big incarcerator, but an epidemic of tuberculosis in overcrowded prisons convinced them to launch a major amnesty program in 1999. 

Is there anything to be proud of in this new data? From the report:

The two U.S. states that incarcerate the least are Maine and Vermont, but even those two states incarcerate far more than the United State’s closest allies. The other NATO nations, for example, are concentrated in the lower half of this list. These nations incarcerate their own citizens at a rate five to ten times lower than the United States does.

Here's the top of the chart to give you an idea how vast the difference from Louisiana to Iran:

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And here's how the U.S. stacks up against NATO allies:

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Look at the whole chart/list here:

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