New study reveals Alabama has 5th highest incarceration rate in the world

Prison Jail

The Prison Policy Initiative released a new report in May comparing the incarceration rate of each American state to countries around the world, and the Yellowhammer state came in fifth place overall.

Fifth place, compared to the entire world; yikes Alabama.

Oklahoma topped the list with 1,079 inmates per 100,000 of populous in their state but Alabama was not far behind, reporting 946 people imprisoned per 100,000 people in the state; the U.S. national average is 698 per 100,000.

But the Yellowhammer state was not the only one with higher ratings, a total 23 states in the nation were reported to have rates over the national average, giving them the highest incarceration rates in the world.

The report then compared these numbers to other nations around the world, where even places like Slovakia, Argentina, Australia and the Ukraine had less than 200 people per 100,000 incarcerated.

“If we imagine every state as an independent nation…every state appears extreme,” said the report. “Massachusetts, the state with the lowest incarceration rate in the nation, would rank 9th in the world, just below Brazil and followed closely by countries like Belarus, Turkey, Iran, and South Africa.”

“States like Alabama, with incarceration rates even higher than the U.S. average, compare even worse. Next to other stable democracies, Alabama is off the charts,” the Prison Policy Initiative explained.

This graph shows how Alabama’s incarceration rate looks compared to other nations in the world. [Photo Credit: Prison Policy Initiative]

The prison system in Alabama is long overdue for an overhaul, the state prison system houses nearly twice the inmates it was designed for. Prison officers and inmates have been killed and injured in a series of violent crimes behind bars, and with several reports this year of Sheriff’s stealing and pocketing hundreds of thousands of dollars meant for inmates food rations, it’s a wonder we’re not talking about this issue.

In 2014, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) and the Alabama Disabilities Advocacy Program filed a lawsuit against the Alabama Department of Corrections (ADOC) to end the poor conditions in the state prison system, including the understaffing of both correctional and mental health workers.

According to the SPLC, as of January 2018, the state still hadn’t come up with an acceptable remedy to address the “horrendously inadequate” and unconstitutional mental health care and staffing needs of the ADOC.

“As Gov. Kay Ivey and ADOC Commissioner Jeff Dunn have both recognized, the constitutional violations of how the state treats prisoners developed over a generation. It will be difficult, and likely costly, to fix them. But ADOC has to fix them,” said Maria Morris, senior supervising attorney for the SPLC, and lead litigator in the case.

Ivey responded by adding an additional $51 million to the ADOC budget earlier in 2018.