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Wednesday, June 1, 2011

North and South Carolina — tops for prison populations

Posted By on Wed, Jun 1, 2011 at 8:00 AM

From the Institute of Southern Studies:


Louisiana: 881

Mississippi: 702

Alabama: 650

Texas: 648

Florida: 559

Georgia: 526

Arkansas: 522

South Carolina: 512

National: 502

Virginia: 480

Kentucky: 478

California: 457

Tennessee: 426

North Carolina: 369

West Virginia: 346

This information is part of a story where the ISS suggests prison reform is on the way after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that California's over-crowded prisons equate to cruel and unusual punishment.

It goes on to point out that once Texas, another state on the above list, stopped trying to imprison so many people, the state's prison crowding problem diminished, as did their costs to run the prison. Imagine that.

My concern, however, is that some policy makers will use this type of story to push for-profit prisons as a solution to uninformed citizens, even though for-profit prisons are actually much more expensive for local governments and vastly more detrimental to the prison population.

Read: "A Death in Texas" in The Boston Review to get a feel for what for-profit prisons are all about, and how they turn small governments into their indentured servants.

My hope, though, is that the ISS is right:

The Supreme Court's decision on California prisons only increases the incentive for states to abandon the costly push to incarcerate and pursue more effective, inexpensive and humane alternatives.

Here's a news story, in three parts, called "Prisons for Profits," from NOW, a PBS production:

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