U.S. Incarceration Rates: Higher Than Any Country In The World

The U.S. incarceration rates are higher than Russia, Cuba, and, Iran — countries not typically known for their hesitancy toward strict punishment.

According to a new report from MLive, Michigan imprisons people at a rate of around 628 inmates per 100,000, beating out all the aforementioned countries. Surprisingly, this is below the national average of 716 people per 1,000.

And out of all 50 states and the District of Columbia, Louisiana blows the rest of the competition out of the water with a rate of 1,341 people per 100,000.

While this might seem a tad embarrassing, however, it’s actually the exact opposite. From the Prison Policy Initiative study:

“Although our level of crime is comparable to those of other stable, internally secure, industrialized nations, the United States has an incarceration rate far higher than any other country.

Nearly all of the countries with relatively high incarceration rates share the experience of recent large-scale internal conflict. But the United States, which has enjoyed a long history of political stability and hasn’t had a civil war in nearly a century and a half, tops the list.

If we compare the incarceration rates of individual U.S. states and territories with that of other nations, for example, we see that 36 states and the District of Columbia have incarceration rates higher than that of Cuba, which is the nation with the second highest incarceration rate in the world.

New Jersey and New York follow just after Cuba. Although New York has been actively working on reducing its prison population, it’s still tied with Rwanda, which has the third highest national incarceration rate. Rwanda incarcerates so many people (492 per 100,000) because thousands are sentenced or awaiting trial in connection with the 1994 genocide that killed an estimated 800,000 people.”

In other words, if you actually lock people up instead of allowing them to run around starting revolutions and criminal mischief, you’re liable to have a more stable country, even if you can’t agree politically.

U.S. incarceration rates are based on an analysis of 2010 U.S. Census data, as the federal government’s Bureau of Justice Statistics last released 50-state data in 2006, MLive notes.

What do you think, readers? Are the high U.S. incarceration rates something to be proud of, or should we continually work to reduce the prison population?

Also, how would you recommend we do that if you, in fact, believe that we should? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section below.

[Image via ShutterStock]