In all my years crossing the Jeff Davis overpass, which overlooks the Orleans Parish Prison, I don’t think I’ve ever before noticed inmates in the yard. What’s up with that?
Did you know Louisiana incarcerates more adults per capita than any other state in the nation? And given that the US has the highest incarceration rate in the world, that means we lock up a lot of our people.
If you’d have asked me last week, I would have said I suspected that Orleans Parish has the highest incarceration rate in the state. But I recently read it’s St. Tammany parish, where the incarceration rate is approaching 1%.
You can’t really ignore the racial dimension of mass incarceration. According to Michelle Alexander, the United States “imprisons a larger percentage of its black population than South Africa did at the height of apartheid.”
In the Public Interest has published a fact sheet
revealing the following:
- The two largest private prison companies, GEO Group and CCA, have spent $2.2 billion since 2005 acquiring other, smaller corrections companies.
- A large portion of this money has gone to “diversifying” their criminal justice footprint, including acquiring companies that provide reentry, alcohol monitoring, electronic ankle monitoring, and health care. This dynamic has been exacerbated by the pushback against mass incarceration, including the DOJ’s recent private prison decision, and was recently described in The Nation.
- The two companies rely on loans from big banks, including Bank of America, Wells Fargo, JPMorgan Chase, and SunTrust, to make these purchases.