In many small counties across the heartland, where prisons are often “the only well-funded response to a range of social ills, including drug abuse and mental illness,” incarceration rates have been rising. The New York Times reports “just a decade ago, people in rural, suburban and urban areas were all about equally likely to go to prison. But now people in small counties are about 50 percent more likely to go to prison than people in populous counties.”
The Times published a national county-by-county look at incarceration rates in 2014 and by what percentage they had risen or fallen since 2006. Arkansas, still mostly rural relative to the rest of the nation, exemplifies this trend. The Arkansas Times’ Max Brantley points out Little River County leads the way in Arkansas, with 87 prison admissions per 10,000 population, a 14% rise over the last 10 years.
In terms of percentage spikes only, counties in the south and east top the list. Among the leaders are Prairie (+244% from 2006-2014), Monroe (+164% ) and Desha (105%) counties.
Check out the map and article here.