You Might Just Spend The Rest Of Your Life In Jail

Fun facts: 

Black people make up 32% of Louisiana’s population, but account for 67% of those in state prison.

Of the 68 people housed on Death Row, 45 of them are black. That’s 66%.

There are 177 youths serving time in state prison. 149 of them are black. That’s 84%.

61% of the elderly prison population (those over 50) are black.

All in all, as a percentage, there are more black people in state prison than there are walking free on the streets of Louisiana.

The only prison demographic that blacks don’t lead in is women. Black women only make up 42.7% of the female prison population, compared to 56.9% for whites.

Angola – The Worst Prison in America?

More fun facts:

A life sentence in Louisiana means just that, life – as in the rest of your life, as in you are considered beyond redemption, beyond rehabilitation, regardless of how sorry you are, regardless of how much you’ve learned, or how much you’ve changed, or vowed to make amends. Regardless, according to the state, you are its property until the day you take your last breath.

F.Y.I. 73.4% of people serving life in prison are black.

Other fun facts:

RELATED: 18 Examples of Racism in America’s Criminal Legal Sysytem

State prison statistics suggest that people are more prone to commit crimes between their mid 20s and mid 40s. After which, their representation in prison decreases as they get older. 

This suggests that people commit less crimes as they approach 50, an indication that people 50 and over are less of a threat to others.

Of the 4,596 people serving life in prison, 2,420 of them are over 50. That’s 53%, more than half.

The average age they were when convicted was 29. 

2,064 of them were sentenced to life after their first offense.

20% of those sentenced to life come from Orleans Parish, by far the highest representation from a singe parish. Jefferson Parish comes in 2nd with 12.3%.

That means you probably know somebody or know somebody who knows somebody who committed a first offense when they were young and have been sitting in jail ever since.

All in all, Louisiana has more people serving life in prison than four neighboring states combined (Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas, and Tennessee).

Louisiana also spends close to $700 million a year to house all of its prisoners.

RELATED: Black men get longer sentences than white men for the same crime

Change a coming?

Over the past few legislative sessions, lawmakers have instituted a number of reforms to reduce the state’s prison population. And they’ve worked. The state has cut its population by 32%. Even with that, Louisiana still ranks first in prisoners per capita, and none of those reforms have targeted those serving life with no parole. Until…

HB 490

Representative Royce Duplessis has sponsored House Bill 490, which among other things finally proposes to allow people serving life sentences to have a parole hearing after 30 years. Not parole but just a hearing to at least state their case for being reformed, which is supposed to be the reason they’re sent to prison in the first place. This bill expands on an similar attempt during last year’s legislative session. 

Given the momentum building to further reduce the state’s prison population, maybe this version will face a different fate. The bill has yet to be heard by the Criminal Justice committee, but the legislative session is still young. For more information, stay tuned. 

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