Incarceration Data

black Image of scales on white background with the words, "calibrate the scales" overlaid. As with any set of scales, the scales of justice must, from time to time, be recalibrated. Total balance is never achieved, but all in the criminal justice and legal systems must strive for it as much as possible.

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:

  1. Seychelles (799 persons incarcerated per 1000)
  2. United States of America (666 persons incarcerated per 1000)
  3. Turkmenistan (583 persons incarcerated per 1000)
  4. El Salvador (574 persons incarcerated per 1000)
  5. U.S. Virgin Islands (542 persons incarcerated per 1000)
  6. Cuba (510 persons incarcerated per 1000)
  7. Guam (438 persons incarcerated per 1000)
  8. Russia Federation (436 persons incarcerated per 1000)
  9. Rwanda (434 persons incarcerated per 1000)
  10. 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

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.

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.

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Persons Incarcerated Worldwide by Nation Listed Per Capita from Highest to Lowest

Prison Populations Ranked per 100,000
Column1 Column2 Column3
1 Seychelles 799
2 United States of America 693
3 St. Kitts and Nevis 607
4 Turkmenistan 583
5 Virgin Islands (USA) 542
6 El Salvador 541
7 Cuba 510
8 Thailand 476
9 Guam (USA) 469
10 Russian Federation 450
11 Rwanda 434
12 Panama 426
13 Virgin Islands (UK) 425
14 Grenada 421
15 Maldives 421
16 Belize 410
17 Antigua and Barbuda 403
18 American Samoa (USA) 382
19 St. Vincent and the Grenadines 378
20 Cayman Islands (UK) 369
21 Bahamas 363
22 Bermuda (United Kingdom) 354
23 Costa Rica 352
24 Puerto Rico (USA) 349
25 Sint Maarten (Netherlands) 347
26 Palau 343
27 St. Lucia 327
28 French Guiana/Guyane (France) 326
29 Barbados 322
30 Anguilla (UK) 307
31 Brazil 307
32 Belarus 306
33 Bahrain 301
34 Dominica 300
35 South Africa 292
36 Uruguay 291
37 Iran 287
38 Cape Verde 286
39 Swaziland 282
40 Trinidad and Tobago 272
41 Northern Mariana Islands (USA) 267
42 Taiwan 267
43 Mongolia 266
44 Israel 265
45 Georgia 262
46 Samoa 258
47 Guyana 256
48 Martinique (France) 256
49 Lithuania 254
50 Peru 251
51 Chile 242
52 Colombia 240
53 Turkey 238
54 Azerbaijan 236
55 Dominican Republic 232
56 United Arab Emirates 229
57 Curaçao (Netherlands) 225
58 Latvia 224
59 Republic of Moldova 222
60 Morocco 222
61 Estonia 221
62 Kazakhstan 221
63 Singapore 219
64 Czech Republic 211
65 Greenland (Denmark) 208
66 Mexico 204
67 Tunisia 204
68 Guadeloupe (France) 203
69 New Zealand 202
70 Macau (China) 200
71 Honduras 198
72 Botswana 193
73 Gabon 193
74 Albania 192
75 Poland 187
76 Slovakia 184
77 Hungary 183
78 Suriname 183
79 Montenegro 182
80 New Caledonia (France) 181
81 Paraguay 180
82 Fiji 174
83 Mauritius 174
84 Malaysia 172
85 Nicaragua 171
86 Ukraine 168
87 Kyrgyzstan 167
88 Macedonia 166
89 Tonga 166
90 Aruba (Netherlands) 165
91 Ecuador 162
92 Saudi Arabia 161
93 Argentina 160
94 Venezuela 159
95 Gibraltar (UK) 158
96 Algeria 156
97 Australia 152
98 Jersey (UK) 152
99 Jordan 150
100 Uzbekistan 150
101 United Kingdom (UK) 146
102 Vietnam 146
103 Bhutan 145
104 Jamaica 145
105 Zimbabwe 145
106 French Polynesia (France) 144
107 Namibia 144
108 Romania 142
109 Serbia 142
110 Scotland (UK) 141
111 Nauru 140
112 Philippines 140
113 Portugal 137
114 Brunei Darussalam 134
115 Malta 131
116 Spain 131
117 Armenia 130
118 Kiribati 130
119 Ethiopia 128
120 Lebanon 128
121 Guernsey (UK) 127
122 Federated States of Micronesia 127
123 Bulgaria 125
124 Zambia 125
125 Iraq 123
126 Bolivia 122
127 Guatemala 122
128 Kenya 121
129 Tajikistan 121
130 Luxembourg 120
131 Reunion (France) 120
132 Uganda 120
133 Laos 119
134 China 118
135 Cambodia 116
136 Egypt 116
137 Hong Kong (China) 115
138 Cameroon 114
139 Canada 114
140 Myanmar 113
141 Kuwait 112
142 Tuvalu 110
143 Cook Islands (New Zealand) 109
144 Republic of South Korea 107
145 France 103
146 Haiti 102
147 Kosovo/Kosova 100
148 Mayotte (France) 100
149 Libya 99
150 Belgium 98
151 Austria 97
152 Angola 96
153 Isle of Man (UK) 92
154 Lesotho 92
155 Greece 91
156 Italy 89
157 Sri Lanka 88
158 Sao Tome e Principe 87
159 Vanuatu 87
160 Madagascar 84
161 Switzerland 84
162 Croatia 81
163 Republic of Cyprus 80
164 Ireland, Republic of 79
165 Germany 78
166 Northern Ireland (UK) 78
167 Benin 77
168 Burundi 77
169 Afghanistan 74
170 Monaco 74
171 Bosnia and Herzegovina Federation 73
172 Slovenia 73
173 Malawi 70
174 Norway 70
175 Indonesia 69
176 Netherlands 69
177 Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina 67
178 Djibouti 67
179 Marshall Islands 66
180 Tanzania 64
181 Equatorial Guinea 63
182 Papua New Guinea 63
183 Nepal 62
184 Senegal 62
185 Togo 62
186 Denmark 61
187 Syria 60
188 Gambia 58
189 Mozambique 57
190 Cote d’Ivoire 56
191 Finland 55
192 Sierra Leone 55
193 Andorra 53
194 Qatar 53
195 Sweden 53
196 Yemen 53
197 South Sudan 52
198 Sudan 50
199 Timor-Leste 50
200 Ghana 49
201 Liberia 49
202 Japan 47
203 Solomon Islands 46
204 Iceland 45
205 Mauritania 44
206 Niger 44
207 Bangladesh 43
208 Pakistan 43
209 Burkina Faso 41
210 Chad 39
211 Oman 36
212 Nigeria 35
213 India 33
214 Mali 33
215 Democratic Republic of Congo 29
216 Congo (Brazzaville) 27
217 Liechtenstein 27
218 Republic of Guinea 26
219 Faroe Islands (Denmark) 23
220 Comoros 19
221 Central African Republic 16