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10 States With The Highest Incarceration Rates

10 States With The Highest Incarceration Rates

America seems to like to lock people up. Just look at the stats. At the end of 2016, nearly 2.2 million adults were held in prisons and jails, according to a 2018 report from the Bureau of Justice Statistics. Breaking it down, for every 100,000 people living in the United States, approximately 655 of them were behind bars.

The racial disparity rates regarding incarceration remain high. According to advocacy group The Sentencing Project, which studies racial disparities in criminal justice, Black Americans are more than five times more likely than whites to be imprisoned.

“If the US prison population were a city, it would be among the country’s 10 largest. More people are behind bars in America than there are living in major cities such as Philadelphia or Dallas,” CNN reported.

Here is a look at the 10 states with the most people incarcerated, based on U.S. News & World Report’s 2019 Best States rankings using 2016 data from the Bureau of Justice Statistics.

10: Georgia

At the bottom of the list was Georgia, coming in at no. 10. Still, the state does house a lot of people in jails and prison — 512 per 100,000 people. And this number increased by 2.7 percent from 2015 to 2016.

9. Kentucky

Kentucky came in at No. 9. The incarceration rate in the state is 518 per 100,000 people and it had the largest increase in its female prison population (up 400 prisoners) from 2015 to 2016.

8. Missouri

Missouri, number 8 on the list, incarcerates 532 per 100,000 people and it saw only a .04 increase in the year between 2015 and 2016.

7. Texas

Texas’s incarceration rate is 563 per 100,000 people. “Texas put more people behind bars than most states, yet it ranks No. 7 for equality in jailing, according to data used in the 2019 Best States rankings,” U.S.News & World Report reported.

6. Alabama

No. 6 on the list is Alabama, where the incarceration rate is 571 per 100,000 people. In this state, the number of state or federal prisoners actually dropped by more than 6 percent between 2015 and 2016, more than almost any other state.

5. Arkansas

At No.5, Arkansas had 583 per 100,000 people incarcerated and was one of four states that revealed more than half of their prisoners were incarcerated for violation of conditional release in 2016. “Arkansas has the fastest-growing prison population in the country,” Citizens First organization reported.

4. Arizona

Coming in a No. 4 was Arizona with its incarceration rate of 585 per 100,000 people. The state abolished parole in 1994. “Arizona has an incarceration rate of 877 per 100,000 people (including prisons, jails, immigration detention, and juvenile justice facilities), meaning that it locks up a higher percentage of its people than many wealthy democracies do,” Prison Policy reported.

3. Mississippi

No. 3 was Mississippi, the third-highest overall incarceration rate in America — 624 per 100,000 people. Its juvenile incarceration rate, however, is the eighth-lowest.

About 22 percent (more than twice the national rate) of Oklahoma’s inmates were serving their sentences in the state’s three privately operated prisons in 2018,” U.S. News & World Report reported. The state, ranked No. 2, had an incarceration rate of 673 per 100,000 people.

The prison system in Mississippi is under scrutiny by civil rights advocates who are demanded a national “State of Emergency.” In less than a month, 12 inmates have died in Mississippi prisons.

“Human rights groups are decrying a ‘human rights crisis’ that has been unfolding in Mississippi’s state prison system over the past several weeks, with at least a dozen inmates dying in their decrepit cells and in outbursts of violence since late December,” Common Dreams reported.

Most of the deaths have occurred at Mississippi State Penitentiary, also known as Parchman.

The violence at the prisons must be recognized as “a state of emergency, a human rights crisis,” tweeted Vanita Gupta, president of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights.

2. Oklahoma

This state has the second-highest incarceration rate in the country with 673 per 100,000 people.

About 22 percent (more than twice the national rate) of Oklahoma’s inmates were serving their sentences in the state’s three privately operated prisons in 2018,” U.S. News & World Report reported.

1. Louisiana

No. 1 was Louisiana, which is often called the world’s prison capital, with an incarceration rate of 760 per 100,000 people. Not only does it have one of the highest incarceration rates in the country it also has one of the highest violent crime rates in the country.



Region factors into political power, as black voters are concentrated in approximately 20 states, meaning black people in the other 30 states have significantly reduced political representation. And in four states more than 1 in 5 black people are disenfranchised from felonies.



Speaking of felonies, 7 of the 10 states with the highest incarceration rates are southern states with huge black populations, and 9 out of 10 are considered to be apart of the sunbelt.

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