Tags: US State Facts | Voting Rights | prison population | trends | Louisiana

Prison Population Trends in Louisiana Since 1994

By    |   Wednesday, 27 Jan 2016 04:59 PM

Crime really doesn't pay in Louisiana, especially compared with other states. The prison population in the Pelican State has steadily climbed during the past two decades. Strict sentencing for offenders and an abundance of local jails have combined to help Louisiana have the No. 1 incarceration rate in the world, The New Orleans Times-Picayune reported.

When Louisiana received a federal order to ease overcrowding in state prisons during the early 1990s, the state responded by building more jails in local parishes and paying local sheriffs or for-profit companies to house prisoners in these new jails. This solution to overcrowding led to a subsequent explosion in Louisiana's prison population.

Prison Population Growth
The New Orleans Times-Picayune charted a dramatic spike in the number of prisoners serving in Louisiana jails since the early 1990s. One in 86 Louisiana adults is serving time within the state's prison system. This number is nearly double the national average.

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A total of 25,195 people were incarcerated in Louisiana in 1995. That number spiked to 36,083 by the end of 2005. The state's incarceration rate rose from 427 people per 100,000 residents in 1990 to 867 people per 100,000 residents by 2011.

Trends Fueling Growth
Housing prisoners in local parish jails provides a source of profit and employment for rural sheriffs and their departments. Fifty-two percent of all Louisiana prisoners are housed in local jails. High incarceration rates benefits local sheriffs because they are paid a daily per diem per prisoner. Much of this money goes toward weapons, vehicles and supplies for the sheriff and the rest of the department.

This has led to Louisiana imposing some of the strictest sentencing for felonies and misdemeanors in the nation. A New York Times article noted that writing bad checks in Louisiana can be punishable by up to 10 years in prison. The same offense in California, on the other hand, would likely result in a year or less in jail.

A 2010 report released by the Louisiana Department of Corrections reflected the results of this strict sentencing. The report noted that the average prisoner had a sentence of 13.3 years, and they served at least 4.6 years behind bars.

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Crime really doesn't pay in Louisiana, especially compared with other states. The prison population in the Pelican State has steadily climbed during the past two decades.
prison population, trends, Louisiana
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2016-59-27
Wednesday, 27 Jan 2016 04:59 PM
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