If Every American State Was a Country, Which Would Have the World's Highest Incarceration Rate?

Mass incarceration, nation by nation.


If you're a regular Reason reader, you probably know that the U.S. has the world's highest incarceration rate. Cuba comes second, then Rwanda, Russia, and the rest. But what if we treated each individual state as an independent nation and stacked them all up against the rest of the world? Which place would prove most prone to locking people up?

The Prison Policy Initiative has put together a pretty amazing chart answering just that question. First place turns out to go to Louisiana, which locks up 1,341 people for every 100,000 residents. (The figure includes inmates in federal prisons and local jails.) Thirty-five other states have incarceration rates that beat the Cubans', as does the District of Columbia.

The least prison-happy state? Vermont. You can head down to the comments to debate whether that's because it's full of soft-hearted hippies or if it's just that all those old people there don't commit as many crimes.

Bonus link: Our special issue on mass incarceration.