In a country that imprisons more people per capita than any other, Louisiana incarcerates more people than than any other state.
Welcome to the incarceration capital of the world.
Louisiana’s state prisons don’t have enough beds to house all the people sentenced to them. To close that gap, local sheriffs house inmates in parish jails. The sheriffs get daily stipends from the state to house each inmate, but can keep any leftover money to use for their department if they can cut housing costs.
In a state where law and order is part of the culture and the economy, two of the most powerful lobbies—sheriffs and district attorneys—are blocking attempts at reform. Less revenue to house inmates means fewer corrections jobs and less inmate labor in an economically depressed state where the biggest employer in some parishes is the prison system.
Shot on assignment for The Wall Street Journal.