Louisiana has an incarceration rate of 1,094 per 100,000 people (including prisons, jails, immigration detention, and juvenile justice facilities), meaning that it locks up a higher percentage of its people than any democracy on earth. Read on to learn more about who is incarcerated in Louisiana and why.
Jump to COVID-19 data.
50,000 people from Louisiana are behind bars
Additionally, the number of people impacted by county and city jails in Louisiana is much larger than the graph above would suggest, because people cycle through local jails relatively quickly. Each year, at least 86,000 different people are booked into local jails in Louisiana.
Rates of imprisonment have grown dramatically in the last 40 years
More than half of the people held in jails in Louisiana are held for federal or state agencies, primarily the state prison system. To avoid counting them twice, this population is not included in the yellow jails line. For annual counts of people in jails held for federal or state authorizes in Louisiana, see our table "Jail and prison incarcerated populations by state over time."
Also see these Louisiana graphs:
This graph excludes people held for state or federal authorities from the total count of people held in Louisiana jails. Because a majority (66%) of the population in Louisiana jails is held for the state prison system, this graph likely overstates the convicted population and understates the pre-trial population.
Today, Louisiana’s incarceration rates stand out internationally
In the U.S., incarceration extends beyond prisons and local jails to include other systems of confinement. The U.S. and state incarceration rates in this graph include people held by these other parts of the justice system, so they may be slightly higher than the commonly reported incarceration rates that only include prisons and jails. Details on the data are available in States of Incarceration: The Global Context. We also have a version of this graph focusing on the incarceration of women.
People of color are overrepresented in prisons and jails
See also our detailed graphs about Whites
in Louisiana prisons and jails.
Louisiana's criminal justice system is more than just its prisons and jails
Data on COVID-19 in Louisiana jails and prisons
We gave Louisiana a failing grade in September 2021 for its response to the coronavirus in prisons, noting that:
- Louisiana state prisons — despite being some of the most overcrowded in the country — only reduced their population by 10.25% from March 2020 to July 2021.
- The state of Louisiana had a Furlough Release Panel that reviewed 594 people in prisons for release, but the Panel was suspended in June 2020 — merely three months after the pandemic started.
For more detail, see our report States of Emergency. Or check out these other resources:
- We're tracking Louisiana's medical copay policies in prisons during the pandemic
- Our Responses to the COVID-19 Pandemic page tracks criminal justice policy responses to the coronavirus all 50 states
- As of late April 2021, only 28% of corrections staff in Louisiana prisons had gotten the COVID-19 vaccine
- How crowded are Louisiana prisons, as of December 2020?
- How many COVID-19 cases in Louisiana communities can be linked to outbreaks in correctional facilities? (data from our report Mass Incarceration, COVID-19, and Community Spread)
- As of August 2020, Louisiana prisons were not even requiring staff to wear masks at work
- State prison and jail population data for February 2022. (Previous data is available for October 2021, June 2021, February 2021, December 2020, September 2020, August 2020, and May 2020.) Data availability varies by state.
Our other articles about Louisiana