The Missing Link: Jail and Prison Conditions in Criminal Justice Reform
80 La. L. Rev. 1 (2019)
37 Pages Posted: 10 Dec 2019
Date Written: September 9, 2019
At any given moment in the United States, approximately 2.3 million people are behind bars, at least a quarter of whom have not been convicted of a crime. Louisiana was second in the nation — and the world — in incarceration rates in 2018, but it is last nationwide in other relevant rankings: health care, infant mortality, economy, education, and infrastructure. Louisiana only lost its title of “Incarceration Capital of the World” to Oklahoma following bipartisan state legislation enacted in 2017, which lowered our per capita incarceration rate. Louisiana still far outpaces the nation, incarcerating 712 people per 100,000, compared to a national average of 450 people per 100,000.
The goal of this article is simple: to connect the dots between conditions in jails and prisons and broader criminal justice reform efforts. This Article looks at conditions in Louisiana jails and prisons, examines recent reforms, and draws from other states and national data to establish broader trends. It discusses recent criminal justice reform efforts, summarizes some of the key features of prison and jail conditions, with particular attention to how these conditions impact both the people incarcerated and their broader communities, and recommends several strategies to improve prisons and jails based on the relationships between their conditions and existing criminal justice reforms.
Keywords: prison law, incarceration rates, social justice
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation