Students of criminal justice must conduct research from time to time. To help with the data, charts, and graphs needed for research and research papers, Criminal Justice Law International is compiling data related to incarceration around the world. Prisons/Correctional facilities in most western nations provide data through their governing agencies, but some less industrialized counties often do not.
We will present as much data, charts, and graphs as we can locate to help criminal justice students worldwide. This will be an extensive and time-consuming project, so we will start with the counties having the most persons incarcerated as a percentage of the population. Because of the influence the United States has in her ally nations, we will add these as well at this time.
As of this writing in July 2017, the Top 10 Prison Population Nations are:
- Seychelles (799 persons incarcerated per 1000)
- United States of America (666 persons incarcerated per 1000)
- Turkmenistan (583 persons incarcerated per 1000)
- El Salvador (574 persons incarcerated per 1000)
- U.S. Virgin Islands (542 persons incarcerated per 1000)
- Cuba (510 persons incarcerated per 1000)
- Guam (438 persons incarcerated per 1000)
- Russia Federation (436 persons incarcerated per 1000)
- Rwanda (434 persons incarcerated per 1000)
- Thailand (428 persons incarcerated per 1000)
The above pages are coming soon: As data is added to each of the above nations, it will appear as a link.
The United States Federal Prison System Data
Most of the data for the United States Federal Prison System is derived from the U.S. Bureau of Prisons (BOP). Some comes from Data.gov, some from the FBI, the Bureau of Justice Statistics, and other sources. In creating data sets, graphs, and charts related to prisons in America, our goal is to provide our readers with the best possible resources.
We know that our readers are largely criminal justice students, many planning a career in Law Enforcement. But some are looking at the Correctional system and private industries which provide support. We hope to provide what is needed in the way of useful tools.
We also encourage students to go to the sources and download the raw data. Although we will be providing what we believe to be the best possible tools for research, students always have questions left unanswered. We hope that by creating these tools from the same data all have free access to we can better help our readers know how to manipulate the data for their own purposes.
To this end, we are also adding training videos, tips, and tutorials especially in the sections dealing with U.S. Prison System Data. Why primarily here?
Because outside the Seychelles, no other nation incarcerates as many of its citizens as the United States. In fact, the only reason the Seychelles tops the list is because of the ration to population it imprisons. Research is best when large numbers are used and for this purpose, the United States beats every other nation for conducting prison research. So, a large part of our focus will be on U.S. incarceration rates and reasons.
The U.S. State Prison Systems Data
Related to the United States Federal prison system, each of the 50 states and the territories of Puerto Rico and Guam have corrections systems. Collecting data for these states is a tedious process, requiring collating data across numerous sets.
Some of the data comes from the Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Statistics, the FBI, each state, and more. No centralized location exists for providing raw data which students need to conduct studies and complete research papers. The most important data is scattered across the web through a myriad of government and private websites.
For instance, we anticipate using data mainly from Governing.com, Data.gov, BJS, and individual states when possible. If any of our readers know of sites with disparate bits and pieces which would fit well into these data sets, we would love to hear from you. Contact Criminal Justice Law International here.
Part of our goal in creating these pages is to develop such a centralized location for criminal justice corrections research. We want to make this your bookmarked landing page for all things related to incarceration in the American States. Hint, hint…bookmark it now.
Prison Data from the United Kingdom
Locating data related to prisons, prison populations, who is incarcerated, and more in the United Kingdom (UK) is no simple task. For whatever reason, the UK does not make locating such data simple. Perhaps this is because they are less concerned with the matter.
Still, we will be using mainly Gov.UK where possible. Some other useful sites which offer some help and data include prisonstudies.org, Scribd, and Statista. We also anticipate that the World Prison Brief should be useful to us and readers in locating useful data. World Prison Brief offers a simple view of the world prison populations which places the UK at position 110 with a total population of 7,466 including Scotland. This is a simple view because it ranks prison populations based on raw numbers rather than per capita.
Basing incarcerations on raw numbers is ok, but fail to place the data in perspective. For instance, in the World Prison Brief ranking of national incarceration around the world, the Seychelles rank number 172 with a total prison population of only 735. This illustrates the limitation of data, which is one of the key reasons Criminal Justice Law International is undertaking this massive project.
Our goal will be to provide not just raw data, but include perspectives on the data in an easy-to-access, one-stop-shop format. We want to make research easier.
Prison Data from Australia
Australia is great at collecting data and making it available for use by the public. Data on incarceration rates, who is in prison, and why is readily available in raw form much as with the United States. For most of the data we will use on this site, the Australian Bureau of Statistics will be used. The Australian Institute of Criminology also provides plenty of data related to prisons. Finally, the National Judicial College of Australia has a good bit of data related to incarceration and other criminal justice system vitals. For instance, one of their more recent (2016) publications focused on Women in Prison.
Prison Data for Canada
Canada is not a nation which highly incarcerates, but the county does have an excellent data collection system in place. Two key sites which provide raw data for Canadian incarceration are
- Statistics Canada/Statistique Canada
- Government of Canada/Gouvernment du Canada Correctional Service Canada
The data provided by the latter is limited in scope because of the relatively small samplings (Canada does not incarcerate to the extent that some countries do), but the research is thorough and useful. As stated on the Correctional Service Canada website,
“We use quantitative and qualitative methodological approaches, including data analysis and interviews with staff and offenders. Our studies can involve a quick, data-driven profile or can consist of a multi-year and multi-phase research study. Our research often involves CSC staff from national and regional headquarters, community sites and institutions.”
Prison Data from Russian Federation
Although the Russian Federation was born from the ashes of the Soviet Union (USSR), the legal structure of the nation is still relatively new. Thus, data collection is limited and scanty. Still, we will provide what we can. Most of the incarceration data for this nation will be derived from the Federal Penitentiary Service of Russia. Some will be derived from alternate sources such as Foreign Prisoners and others.
As we are able to locate more reliable data, we will make it available to readers.
Prison Data from China
As a communist nation, obtaining reliable prison data from China is difficult. Although the nation incarcerates at rates which rival the United States and Russia, China does not make statistical data readily available. For instance, the official English language website for THE STATE COUNCIL of THE PEOPLE’S REPUBLIC OF CHINA provides archived statistics, but there is no search function. In addition, all the information has a decidedly positive bent and is related to doing business, living in the country, visiting, and studying…In other words, if China does collect data on inmates incarcerated in the county, it does not make it public.
Still, there is some data which can be obtained from other sources such as the UNODC and the World Prison Brief. As Criminal Justice Law International is able to locate better sources for data, we will be providing it.
Prison Data India
Because of the enormous population of India, incarceration data from that nation should be very useful to students everywhere. The National Crime Records Bureau of India provides a good bit of data dating to the year 1995, when collection began. Data.gov.in is another good resource to obtain prison information as are some of the larger news organizations such as The Hindu.
This is the case because India has had more than its share of social and civil disruption in recent decades. As the nation becomes more secular, it is starting to shake some of the older, traditional standards which many in the global community consider unjust. Women especially are pushing for fairer treatment and the nation continues to struggle with class distinctions and religious divisions.
Because of such internal shakeups, the nation incarcerates large numbers of people. Once again illustrating the difference between raw data and data put into perspective, India is ranked very differently depending on how the data is viewed.
- India incarcerates 33/1000 people placing it near the bottom of the global per capita rankings at number 213.
- For total persons incarcerated, India ranks number 5 with 419,623 prisoners
Broad Overview in Light of Globalization
One of the things many students of criminal justice will want to do when putting together incarceration data is get a broad overview of the entire world. This is not easy, but prisonstudies.org has provided an excellent pdf overview for 2016 that we highly recommend.
In time, one of the goals of Criminal Justice Law International will be to provide continually evolving world prison data. That may be some time into the future, but we encourage you to bookmark this page now. The ball is starting to really roll here at criminaljusticelaw.org. Readers are coming to us in the thousands, most are signing up for our newsletter, and a few have begun to become active in the Forum.
We love this. Our mission is to become the top resource in the world for students of criminal justice and law. We want to see a vibrant community of justice-minded people from around the globe working together to resolve the biggest issues facing people everywhere.
If you have suggestions or would like to contribute in any way, please take a moment to complete the following form. And don’t forget to share this site with others. Below this form is a chart showing the prison rankings for the world from a per capita perspective.
Persons Incarcerated Worldwide by Nation Listed Per Capita from Highest to Lowest
|Prison Populations Ranked per 100,000|
|2||United States of America||693|
|3||St. Kitts and Nevis||607|
|5||Virgin Islands (USA)||542|
|13||Virgin Islands (UK)||425|
|17||Antigua and Barbuda||403|
|18||American Samoa (USA)||382|
|19||St. Vincent and the Grenadines||378|
|20||Cayman Islands (UK)||369|
|22||Bermuda (United Kingdom)||354|
|24||Puerto Rico (USA)||349|
|25||Sint Maarten (Netherlands)||347|
|28||French Guiana/Guyane (France)||326|
|40||Trinidad and Tobago||272|
|41||Northern Mariana Islands (USA)||267|
|56||United Arab Emirates||229|
|59||Republic of Moldova||222|
|80||New Caledonia (France)||181|
|101||United Kingdom (UK)||146|
|106||French Polynesia (France)||144|
|122||Federated States of Micronesia||127|
|137||Hong Kong (China)||115|
|143||Cook Islands (New Zealand)||109|
|144||Republic of South Korea||107|
|153||Isle of Man (UK)||92|
|158||Sao Tome e Principe||87|
|163||Republic of Cyprus||80|
|164||Ireland, Republic of||79|
|166||Northern Ireland (UK)||78|
|171||Bosnia and Herzegovina Federation||73|
|177||Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina||67|
|182||Papua New Guinea||63|
|215||Democratic Republic of Congo||29|
|218||Republic of Guinea||26|
|219||Faroe Islands (Denmark)||23|
|221||Central African Republic||16|