This State Has More People in Jail Than Any Other

The United States, along with many other countries around the world, is full of overcrowded prisons. As a result, state governments are spending billions of dollars to keep the prison system running smoothly. There are too many prisoners, and officers are being underpaid.

Which states see the most people in jail? Check out the top 10 below, according to U.S. News & World Report. Don’t miss checking out what state made No. 1!

10. Florida

prisoner hands in jail

This state came in at No. 10 |

  • Rate: 512 per 100,000

Florida has the third largest prison system in the country and the 10th highest rate of prisoners. The state incarcerated 512 of every 100,000 people in 2014. It costs the state $20,367 per year to house each inmate. By Florida law, most inmates are required to serve a minimum of 85% of their sentence.

Next: A large percentage of this state has a criminal record. 

9. Georgia

Georgia Guidestones

This state made No. 9. | Dina Eric/Wikimedia Commons

  • Rate: 517 per 100,000

Georgia has the most inmates serving life sentences than any other state. A surprising 26% of Georgia’s population has some kind of criminal record on file, and the state’s prison population tripled between 1982 and 2002. About two thirds of Georgia’s prisoners are black (62%), and about one third of prisoners are white. Nearly one in three people released from jail return within three years.

Next: This state’s jails are only getting fuller. 

8. Missouri

Joplin, Missouri

This stat’s jail population is one the rise. | munst64804/iStock/Getty Images

  • Rate: 526 per 100,000

Missouri’s county jail populations are on a steady rise — the state has seen a 50% increase in county jails over the last seven years. The state blames it on the length of time before sentencing. On average, people are jailed for more than six months before they’re actually sentenced. Missouri also has one of the country’s highest violent crime rates.

Next: This state’s prison population is larger than most of its cities. 

7. Texas

Houston, Texas, USA

This state has the country’s largest prison system. | Sean Pavone/iStock/Getty Images

  • Rate: 582 per 100,000

Texas houses the nation’s largest prison system. If the state’s prison population were a city, it would be larger than cities like Waco, Round Rock, and Galveston. The state spends about $3.4 billion per year on prison operations for its nearly 150,000 inmates.

Next: This state has the lowest juvenile offender rate on the list. 

6. Arizona

Scottsdale, Arizona.

Most offenders are adults. | Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images

  • Rate: 592 per 100,000

Although this state has one of the lowest juvenile offender rates in the country, it takes the No. 6 spot for adult inmates. Prison incarceration rates have been steadily rising in Arizona since 1975. Arizona has more black people and American Indians in jail than any other race.

Next: This state has made unsuccessful reform efforts. 

5. Mississippi


This state comes in at No. 5 | Sean Pavone/iStock/Getty Images

  • Rate: 597 per 100,000

Mississippi lands at No. 5 on the list. But the state did implement heavy prison reforms in 2011 hoping to rid itself of some inmates and make jail time less likely for others. However, in 2018, the jail population was still increasing despite the state’s efforts. The state said it’s mostly due to people getting out of jail but violating their parole and ending up back in the system. Also, salaries for officers only barely surpass the $30,000 mark, when the national average is $47,000.

Next: This state’s numbers decreased for a bit, but now they’re on the rise. 

4. Arkansas

Little Rock, Arkansas

This state has been working to improve these numbers. | Sean Pavone/Getty Images

  • Rate: 599 per 100,000

Arkansas is another state that has been trying hard to reform its prisons and release some inmates. The state reportedly increased the number of prisoners it released by 35% between 2013 and 2014. This was more than any other state. It did see a temporary drop in the number of prisoners, but that number increased again after 2014. Today, Arkansas is still No. 4 on the list.

Next: This state has bigger problems than just overcrowding. 

3. Alabama

Birmingham, Alabama, USA

This state faces overcrowding in jails. | SeanPavonePhoto/iStock/Getty Images

  • Rate: 634 per 100,000

Alabama has a prisoner problem, but that’s not the only issue. It also gives extremely inadequate care to its mentally ill prisoners. A judge recently ruled that Alabama prisons’ mental health care actually violated the U.S. Constitution’s terms of cruel and unusual punishment. In 2017, lawmakers estimated it would take an additional $30 million per year to get prisons’ mental health care up to standard.

Next: This state has the highest rate of female incarceration in the country. 

2. Oklahoma

Oklahoma city

This state has the highest rate of female incarceration. | Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

  • Rate: 700 per 100,000

In 2014, Oklahoma’s prison rate was 700 per every 100,000 residents. And in 2016, that number had dropped to 673 — but Oklahoma still held the No. 2 highest spot. The state has also had the highest rate of female incarceration for more than 25 consecutive years, with more than 3,000 females imprisoned.

Next: This state tops the U.S. prison rates. 

1. Louisiana

St-Johns Cathedral - Lafayette, Louisiana

Coming in at No. 1 …| artiste9999/iStock / Getty Images Plus

  • Rate: 816 per 100,000

Louisiana tops the rest of the nation with more than 800 prisoners for every 100,000 residents. However, Louisiana has been working on prison reform, and in 2016 the number had dropped to 760. But Louisiana was still No. 1 that year. Louisiana is No. 1 in America, which means it also leads the entire world in imprisonment per capita. (Jump to page 13 to see how some other countries compare to the U.S.)

Next: Here are the three states with the lowest prison rates. 

Maine has the lowest prison rate

Maine scenery

Maine comes across as a peaceful place. | Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP/Getty Images

Maine has the least amount of people in prison with a rate of only 132 per 100,000 residents. The state is followed by Massachusetts (179 per 100,000) and Minnesota (196 per 100,000) for the lowest rates. Overall, New England appears to be the region with the lowest average prison rate per capita, according to the state-by-state data.

Next: How bad is the U.S. prison problem compared to the rest of the world? 

The U.S. has the world’s highest prison rates


This ranking is sad, but true. | David McNew/Getty Images

The U.S. ranks No. 1 for highest prison rates in the world. And it’s no secret that U.S. prisons are overcrowded, but in most states, the government has not done much about it. According to BBC News, the U.S. has more than two million prisoners, which is larger than most countries’ entire populations. The U.S. also has the highest female imprisonment rate at 8.9%.

Next: This country comes in second for highest prison rates. 

Russia comes in a distant second

Night view of the Moscow Kremlin

Russia also has a high rate of imprisonment. | ser-alim/iStock/Getty Images

The next highest country is Russia, but they’re pretty far behind. Russia imprisons about 156 fewer people per capita than the U.S. Russia also has a relatively high number of female prisoners, with 6.8%, but that is still more than 2% lower than the U.S. rate. It’s no wonder how America spends about $80 billion per year on corrections.

Next: The U.K. has high prison rates, too. 

The United Kingdom has the highest prison rate in Western Europe

Big Ben

Our friends across the pond also have challenges. | NIKLAS HALLE’N/AFP/Getty Images

The U.K.’s prison rates are higher than any other West European country. Although the U.K. only has about 80,000 total prisoners, BBC reported that it has about 148 prisoners for every 100,000 people. The next highest Western European countries are Spain with 144 and Scotland with 134.

Next: Developing countries have major overcrowding problems. 

Developing countries see lower prison rates because of overcrowding

Prison resources are minimal in developing countries. |

In developing countries, resources for prisons are extremely minimal. As a result, overcrowding becomes inevitable, and fewer people are imprisoned. In Kenya the prisons are at an occupancy level of 343.7%, according to BBC. This means they’re more than triple what they can actually handle. Fewer people can be imprisoned because there is nowhere to put them, leading to more trouble throughout the country.

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