Why Are There So Many People in Jail in Scranton, PA?

Small cities and rural counties have been driving jail incarceration across the country, according to In Our Own Backyard, a recent Vera report. The number of people held in local jails on any day in the United States has increased four-fold since 1970. While the jail incarceration rate in large counties (with more than one million residents) has grown almost three-fold during this period, the jail incarceration rate in small counties (with fewer than 250,000 residents) increased almost seven-fold. ...

Ninety-two percent of Lackawanna County’s population is white, mostly descendants of Italian, Irish, and Polish immigrants who came to the area around the turn of the 20th century to work in the coal, steel, and iron industries. The jail incarceration rate for these residents was 494 per 100,000 people in 2014. However, the rate of incarceration for black people, who made up 2.5 percent of the population in 2010, was 6,145 per 100,000 in 2014—or 6 of every 100.
— Jack Norton