These 10 US States Are Locking Up More People Than The Rest Of The Country

Originally published on July 29, 2020

Did you know that the United States of America has the highest incarceration rate in the world? As we speak, around 2.2 million of the country’s citizens sit behind bars. For every 100,000 residents in the U.S., 655 are sent to prison. This number represents the highest one among large industrialized nations.

But there’s some good news. In recent years, incarceration rates have been steadily declining. In a 2018 study, the population of inmates has gone down by a decent 14.9%. From 2017 to 2018 alone, that number went down by 2.4%. Some states have significantly higher incarceration rates than others. To highlight that, here are the ten states with the highest incarceration rates (number of residents imprisoned for every 100,000 state residents).

  1. Louisiana – 695
  2. Oklahoma – 693
  3. Mississippi – 626
  4. Arkansas – 589
  5. Arizona – 559
  6. Texas – 549
  7. Kentuck – 523
  8. Georgia – 501
  9. Missouri – 495
  10. Florida – 454

Among those states, Louisiana has the highest rate of male prisoners, while Oklahoma has the highest female ones. The first six states showed an alarming number of male imprisonments, each having over 1,000 (per 100,000 male residents). The same research also studied incarceration by race. The number of Black and Hispanic prisoners has considerably lowered since 2008, going down by 28.2% and 20.5%, respectively. However, the incarceration of people of color is still disproportionately high. Black males are almost six times as likely than white males to be imprisoned, while Hispanic males are more than twice as likely.

The recidivism rates per state prison.

Along with incarceration, recidivism is also a problem the country faces. In simpler terms, recidivism is when a person relapses into criminal behavior. This refers to when a person commits a crime within a few years of release from a correctional facility. A piece of research that studied this topic with an 8-year follow up period showed that about half of released inmates were rearrested. The median period for their arrest was shown to be at 21 months following their initial release. The most common cause of rearrest was assault.

According to World Population Review, these are the ten U.S. states with the highest recidivism rates (expressed in % of prisoners that get rearrested):

  1. Delaware – 64.5%
  2. Alaska – 63.2%
  3. Arkansas – 56.5%
  4. Rhode Island – 50%
  5. Colorado – 50%
  6. New Mexico – 49.1%
  7. Pennsylvania – 46.4%
  8. Kentucky – 46.4%
  9. North Dakota – 45.7%
  10. Vermont – 45%

Recidivism is one of the occurrences that the state and federal governments should seek to eliminate. Many times, ex-convicts find difficulty in escaping the criminal justice system once they enter it.

Incarceration and recidivism rates reflect a lot about how local governments and law decision-makers treat crime. How these institutions approach what is happening in their communities that lead to crime can significantly affect these. Furthermore, institutions should find positive ways to provide opportunities and rehabilitation for ex-cons to create a healthy community for everyone.


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Author Terrence Tan Ting


Terrence Tan Ting is an industrial engineer by profession but a full time writer by passion. He loves to write about a wide range of topics from many different industries thanks to his undying curiosity.