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Louisiana takes throne as prison capital of the world

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Thanks to the wasteful so-called war on drugs, the US has a thriving prison business that flushes taxpayer dollars down the drain every day. Somehow the pro-austerity (mostly GOP) crowd can overlook the excessive spending on making the US the incarceration capital of the world. Our numbers exceed even China yet that's acceptable. What exactly are we getting in return for this investment, dare I ask? Someone out there is profiting from this system but it's not the country.

How's that prison system working out for you, Louisiana?

Louisiana is the world's prison capital. The state imprisons more of its people, per head, than any of its U.S. counterparts. First among Americans means first in the world. Louisiana's incarceration rate is nearly triple Iran's, seven times China's and 10 times Germany's.

The hidden engine behind the state's well-oiled prison machine is cold, hard cash. A majority of Louisiana inmates are housed in for-profit facilities, which must be supplied with a constant influx of human beings or a $182 million industry will go bankrupt.

Several homegrown private prison companies command a slice of the market. But in a uniquely Louisiana twist, most prison entrepreneurs are rural sheriffs, who hold tremendous sway in remote parishes like Madison, Avoyelles, East Carroll and Concordia. A good portion of Louisiana law enforcement is financed with dollars legally skimmed off the top of prison operations.

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