The number of people held in prison and detention centers worldwide may exceed 11 million. Since about the year 2000, the world prison population total has grown by almost 20%, which is slightly above the estimated 18% increase in the world’s general population over the same period.
There are more than 2.2 million prisoners in the United States of America, more than 1.65 million in China [whose population is 4.3 times larger] (plus an unknown number in pre-trial detention or ‘administrative detention’), 640,000 in the Russian Federation, 607,000 in Brazil, 418,000 in India, 311,000 in Thailand, 255,000 in Mexico and 225,000 in Iran.
The countries with the highest prison population rate – the number of prisoners per 100,000 of the national population – are Seychelles (799 per 100,000), followed by the United States (698), St. Kitts & Nevis (607), Turkmenistan (583), U.S. Virgin Islands (542), Cuba (510), El Salvador (492), Guam - U.S.A. (469), Thailand (461), Belize (449), Russian Federation (445), Rwanda (434) and British Virgin Islands (425).
Compiler of the World Prison Population List, Roy Walmsley, comments:
“It is of great concern that there are now over 10.35 million people held in penal institutions throughout the world. What is of greater concern is that the world prison population continues to rise, and to rise very sharply in some parts of the world. This should prompt policy makers in all countries to consider what they can do to limit the numbers in custody, given the high costs and disputed efficacy of imprisonment and the fact that prison overcrowding is widespread. The disproportionate rise in the female prison population is particularly shocking.” [The female prison population total has increased by 50% since about 2000]