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World Inmate Populations

Prison_Barbed_Wire.jpg Every year, the editors of The World Almanac have to decide what information to include, what to update, what to cut. Among the data that didn't make it into this year's edition were statistics from the International Centre for Prison Studies, which issues a World Prison Population List. The printed list and online database (which is updated monthly) contain such statistics as prison population size and incarceration rates in different countries.

According to the database, the U.S. has the world's largest prison population: 2,245,189 prisoners (including pre-trial detainees/remand prisoners) as of mid-2006. China followed with 1,565,771; Russia 889,598; Brazil 419,551; and India 332,112.

The U.S. also led in the number of prisoners per 100,000 population: 750 as of mid-2006. French Guiana came in second with 630, followed by Russia with 628, Saint Kitts and Nevis with 604, and the U.S. Virgin Islands with 549.

Keep in mind, though, that data is not always comparable between countries because of estimates, variation in source dates, and different methods of counting prisoners.

[Figures come from official administrative sources in each country. Countries for which official data was not available include Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Guinea Bissau, North Korea, and Somalia.]

World Prison Brief online database
World Prison Population List (7th edition) (PDF)
International Centre for Prison Studies (King's College, University of London)

Previously: "The U.S. Inmate Population"

Photo: "Prison barbed wire," Santa Fe, NM, by Dana Gonzales.


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