Ideally, the purpose of the criminal justice system is to provide justice for the victims of criminal activity and rehabilitation, as well as punishment, for those whose behavior harms others. Unfortunately, the modern criminal justice system is far more punitive or punishment-oriented than it is rehabilitative.
The state locks people up for long amounts of time without regard for how that experience will traumatize the individual and limit their future options. People incarcerated for even minor offenses without a victim, like drug offenses, could lose years of their lives to imprisonment. They may also suffer psychological and physical harm during their incarceration that makes it harder for them to live independently after their release. Prison can lead to trauma or addiction issues.
Although it has a reputation for being a state where people can get a little wild, Louisiana has strict criminal justice laws that it enforces harshly. In fact, Louisiana is one of the worst states in the country in terms of over-incarceration and the number of people locked up.
Louisiana has the second-highest rate of incarceration in the country
Although Illinois and New York might seem like states full of criminals given how dangerous New York City and Chicago can be, neither of those states locks up as many people as Louisiana does. Neither New York nor Illinois is even in the top half of states when it comes to the number of people incarcerated. Louisiana has a prominent rank, as the second-worst state for imprisonment.
For every 100,000 people there are in Louisiana, 1,052 are in prison. Based on 2018 statistics, the most recent year with an analysis available, the only other state with the higher number of inmates based on population is Oklahoma. Oklahoma had 1,079 incarcerated people for every 100,000 residents, earning it the top slot.
Incarceration is expensive and often counterproductive
It costs the taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars per person each year to keep convicted criminals behind bars. The resources that might help someone overcome addiction, address anger issues that led to assault or otherwise learn from their mistakes instead go directly into penalizing people through incarceration.
As previously mentioned, prison and jail sentences can lead to violence, difficulty reintegrating into society and worsening addiction issues. Avoiding jail or prison when facing a criminal charge can be a critical goal for those who don’t want to contribute to Louisiana’s over-incarceration statistics.