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World Record in Louisiana: Prison Capital of the World

Written by Gary North on May 18, 2012

Nowhere on earth does any government exceed Louisiana’s ratio of inmates to citizens: one in 86.

This is triple what it is in Iran. It is seven times China’s ratio. It is ten times Germany’s.

Things aren’t busting out all over in Louisiana.

Overcrowding has been solved. The prisons are only 90% occupied. There’s space available in Louisiana.

Criminals could be required to pay restitution to their victims rather than go to jail. But these days, most of the state’s prisons are run on a for-profit basis. Call them “charter prisons.” If criminals paid restitution rather than get supported by taxpayers, that would harm a $182 million-a-year business.

Who runs these prisons? Sheriffs. They get about $25/day for each prisoner.

Should we be surprised that the prison population has doubled over the last 20 years? It’s a boom industry.

The statistics are interesting. One in 14 of black men from New Orleans are in jail. Those are bad odds.

In Louisiana, a two-time car burglar can get 24 years without parole. The taxpayers are on the hook.

The victims who lost their cars get nothing.

Is that good business for sheriffs, or what?

The Bible requires double restitution for theft (Exodus 22: 1, 4). But that’s old fashioned. Criminal, even.

The state has a higher percentage of prisoners for drug busts than it does for violent crime.

Conclusion: it’s safer to arrest druggers than armed guys with an attitude.

The governor says it’s not a good system. But he’s not in charge.

“You have people who are so invested in maintaining the present system — not just the sheriffs, but judges, prosecutors, other people who have links to it,” said Burk Foster, a former professor at the University of Louisiana-Lafayette and an expert on Louisiana prisons. “They don’t want to see the prison system get smaller or the number of people in custody reduced, even though the crime rate is down, because the good old boys are all linked together in the punishment network, which is good for them financially and politically.”

If you build them, they will come.

In the early 1990s, when the incarceration rate was half what it is now, Louisiana was at a crossroads. Under a federal court order to reduce overcrowding, the state had two choices: Lock up fewer people or build more prisons.

It achieved the latter, not with new state prisons — there was no money for that — but by encouraging sheriffs to foot the construction bills in return for future profits. The financial incentives were so sweet, and the corrections jobs so sought after, that new prisons sprouted up all over rural Louisiana.

They will also stay.

“If the sheriffs hadn’t built those extra spaces, we’d either have to go to the Legislature and say, ‘Give us more money,’ or we’d have to reduce the sentences, make it easier to get parole and commutation — and get rid of people who shouldn’t be here,” said Richard Crane, former general counsel for the Louisiana Department of Corrections.

Here is the famous bottom line.

The more empty beds, the more an operation sinks into the red. With maximum occupancy and a thrifty touch with expenses, a sheriff can divert the profits to his law enforcement arm, outfitting his deputies with new squad cars, guns and laptops. Inmates spend months or years in 80-man dormitories with nothing to do and few educational opportunities before being released into society with $10 and a bus ticket.

This only scratches the surface. To read more, click the link.

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7 thoughts on “World Record in Louisiana: Prison Capital of the World

  1. Okay, considering what happened after Katrina it's no wonder Louisiana, and Particularly New Orleans, is the Inmate Capitol of the Country. Yeah, the system is apparently broke and restitution for crimes might be an alternative, but think about who will be assigning restitution. I'll tell you how bad it is; My son was sitting in a left turn lane in New Orleans when another car ran the red light, lost control and tipped his front driver side bumper. There was one person in the vehicle. The cop refused to BAC the person, gave my son the ticket (because he was out of State and the Cop said so) and then seven people sued my insurance… and the car would only hold four. THAT's why Louisiana is the Inmate Capitol of the country. Because it is full up of CRIMINALS!

    Oh, and in case you ask why didn't the insurance investigate; they did and the investigator said, "Unless you want your son to go to jail, pay the ticket and we'll pay the claims."


  2. "In an article entitled '…And Justice for None,' Paul Craig Roberts (former Assistant Secretary of Treasury under President Reagan) expounded upon some of the inherent problems in today’s juridical system:

    'The United States has the highest rate of incarceration in the world and imprisons 6 to 10 times as many people as any other industrialized country. Between 1990 and 2000, the U.S. population increased 13 percent. The U.S. prison population more than tripled.

    'There are hundreds of thousands of innocent Americans in prison. They are there because the criminal justice system no longer works to discover the truth of a crime, but to convict at all cost whoever happens to be charged with a crime. And they are there because the United States criminalizes more acts than any other country in the world, including tyrannical police states….

    'Almost everyone in prison is wrongfully convicted, even the guilty. According to the Department of Justice, 95 percent of criminal convictions result from plea bargains. What is a plea bargain but self-incrimination, conviction without a trial by jury and without a test of the evidence against the defendant?

    'An uninformed public believes plea bargains to be sweet deals for criminals. Sometimes they are, but more often, pleas result from prosecutors piling on charges until the defendant, innocent or guilty, cries “uncle” and gives up.38

    "Is it merely coincidence that the United States also has the highest number of lawyers per capita – one in every 265 citizens?"

    For more, see Chapter 6 "Article 3: Judicial Usurpation" of "Bible Law vs. the United States Constitution: The Christian Perspective" at http://www.missiontoisrael.org/biblelaw-constitut….

    Find out how much you really know about the Constitution as compared to Yahweh's moral law (His commandments, statutes, and judgments). Take our Constitution Survey at http://www.missiontoisrael.org/constitutionsurvey… and receive a free copy of the "Primer" (an 85 page book, normally $7 plus shipping) of "Bible Law vs. the United States Constitution: The Christian Perspective."

  3. “They don’t want to see the prison system get smaller or the number of people in custody reduced, even though the crime rate is down, because the good old boys are all linked together in the punishment network, which is good for them financially and politically.”

    Might the crime rate be down because…and I know this is crazy, but….maybe….the criminals are in jail? Just thinking out loud here. If I am off target, please let me know.

    I get it; drug sentencing is off the charts and the PIC grows because of it. But it also keeps the bad guys locked up and society is safer as a result. Sounds like a happy medium can reached; partly using Gary's suggestions, partly by locking up violent criminals and partly by allowing restitution. But let's not be completely deaf to the fact that our world is a better place when violent offenders aren't walking around among us.

  4. Barry69 says:

    This article is extremely misleading. Every non-citizen convicted of a federal crime in this whole country is shipped to have their immigration hearing at a federal prison in Louisiana. This is why those numbers are so skewed. Think about that for a second : EVERY illegal immigrant and Green Card holder convicted of a federal crime IS REQUIRED to come through Louisiana to have their immigration status adjudicated. No wonder there are so many inmates there.

  5. Patriot Diva says:

    I lived in Louisiana the first 28 years of my life. There are a lot of corrupt judges in the state. I know of a woman whose son was murdered, and his murderer walks free today because he was friends with a judge. So there's a lot of criminals walking around the state who are not incarcerated because they knew the right people as well.

  6. The system’s incentives are anti-human. The system is not run for us but against it’s enemy on behalf of foregin owned prisons.

  7. Ths prison industrial complex is a complete racket. Not only is there no incentive to keep innocent peopel ou of jail, but the most dangerous criminals are too hard to handle and get out quicker. The judges, the lawyers, the police, the sherriffs, and the prison enforcement personnel are almost totally corrupt.