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counterpunch, 13 mai 2016

Etats-Unis : Louisiana is Number One in Incarceration

par Bill QUIGLEY

Angola State Penitentiary

In 2014, the US Department of Justice confirmed Louisiana remained number 1, among the 50 states, with 38030 in prison, a rate of 816 per 100000 over 100 points ahead of next highest state Oklahoma. Because the US leads the world in incarcerating its people, this means Louisiana is number one in the world. Compare Louisiana’s rate of 816 people per 100000 with Russia’s 492, China with 119, France with 100, and Germany with 78.

United States

Louisiana first became number 1 in the nation in 2005 when it was imprisoning 36083 people. Louisiana remained number 1, in 2010 with 35207 in prison, an incarceration rate of 867 per 100000 people, over 200 points head of the next highest state Mississippi.

It was not always so. In 1965, Louisiana ranked 13th nationally in putting its citizens in jail with a rate of 109 prisoners per 100000 people. In 1978, Louisiana only held 7291 people behind bars. By 1986, Louisiana was 5th highest in the nation in putting its own citizens in prison, with 14580 behind bars, a rate of 322 per 100000, according to the US Department of Justice. In 1990, Louisiana rose to 3rd highest in the nation, putting 18599 behind bars, a rate of 427 per 100000. In 2000, Louisiana moved to 2nd highest in the nation, imprisoning 35047 behind bars, a rate of 801 per 100000.

Angola sits 50 miles northwest of Baton Rouge. It’s the largest maximum-security facility in the United States and one of the country’s most notorious prisons

The number of prisoners expanded nation-wide as a result of the “war on drugs” which was conducted in a racist way to target blacks. But in Louisiana, the prisons also backed up when the practice of releasing prisoners for good behavior after 10 years and 6 months of their life sentences was ended in the 1970s.

Louisiana has been much more severe in sending black people to prison than whites, at least after black people were no longer slaves. In 1860, when the Civil War started, the population of the Louisiana penitentiary was two-thirds white. But by 1868, the population of Louisiana’s penitentiary was two-thirds black.

Angola Penitentiary remains the largest maximum security prison in the United States. There are over 5000 prisoners at Angola alone. The average sentence for prisoners there is 93 years. About 95 percent of people serving time at Angola will die there under current laws. It costs taxpayers an average of $23000 a year for each inmate at Angola. Over 400 people, about 9 percent of those serving life in Louisiana, were convicted of non-violent offenses.

There are an additional 69000 people in Louisiana on probation and parole.

When King, now 71, arrived at Angola, his first impression of it was that it resembled a slave plantation, he said. And it used to be just that. Its name is derived from the home country of the slaves who used to work the land. Today, the comparison remains sadly accurate : Inmates are disproportionately black. They’re forced into hard labor and monitored closely by armed white staff on horseback. There is a sex slave trade behind the bars and many black inmates are deprived of basic constitutional rights

Louisiana has a long history of running abusive prisons. In 1835, Louisiana was described as having “the worst prison in the United States”. In 1952, after dozens of Angola inmates slashed their heel tendons in protest of barbaric conditions, Colliers magazine called Angola “America’s worst prison”. In 1970, the American Bar Association said conditions at Angola were “medieval, squalid and horrifying”. By 1975, conditions were so terrible, a Federal judge declared Angola a “state of emergency”.


Angola State Penitentiary

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    éditeur : Frank Brunner | ouverture : 11 novembre 2000 | reproduction autorisée en citant la source