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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 democratic country on earth. Read on to learn more about who is incarcerated in Louisiana and why.

50,000 people from Louisiana are behind bars

Pie chart showing that 50,000 Louisiana residents are locked up in federal prisons, state prisons, local jails and other types of facilities

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.

Using a unique dataset, we looked at where people in Louisiana prisons come from. We found they come from all corners of the state, but disproportionately from certain communities.

Rates of imprisonment have grown dramatically in the last 40 years

graph showing the number of people in state prison and local jails per 100,000 residents in Louisiana from 1978 to 2019

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:

Graph showing the number of people in Louisiana jails who were convicted and the number who were unconvicted, for the years 1978, 1983, 1988, 1993, 1999, 2005, 2013, and 2019.

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

graphic comparing the incarceration rates of the founding NATO members with the incarceration rates of the United States and the state of Louisiana. The incarceration rate of 664 per 100,000 for the United States and 1,094 for Louisiana is much higher than any of the founding NATO members 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

2021 graph showing incarceration rates per 100,000 people of various racial and ethnic groups in Louisiana

racial and ethnic disparities between the prison/jail and general population in LA as of 2021

Louisiana's criminal justice system is more than just its prisons and jails

Pie chart showing that 119,000 Louisiana residents are in various types of correctional facilities or under criminal justice supervision on probation or parole See detailed data on incarceration and supervision numbers and rates by state.

Reports and briefings about Louisiana's criminal legal system:

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