First three countries on our latest list of 11 countries with the highest prison population hold almost half of all prisoners in the world. According to latest available data, 10.2 million people are incarcerated across the world, which means that 144 out of every 100,000 people are held in prisons. The number represents an increase of approximately 20-35 percent compared to 15 years ago when the prison population rate was 136 per 100.000.
The prison population has grown on all five continents while in some countries the rise of incarceration rate was over 100 percent. The increase can be partly explained by the growth of world population. Although the number of over 10 million prisoners in the world might seem large, it should be noted that about one-third of inmates are held in penal institutions while waiting for a trial. In South Asia, the number of those held in pre-trial detention is as high as 65 percent of all prisoners. On the other side, among those who were sentenced, the majority was convicted to a prison sentence up to five years, while 0.2 percent received a death sentence. Although the death penalty has been abolished in 144 countries since 1978, Amnesty International estimates that 607 people were executed in 2014, but the actual number might be much higher as it is believed that thousands of executions were carried out only in China.
Taken as a whole, prison population mostly comes from poor and marginalized social classes. Many inmates grow up in troubled families or without parents. Children from these 11 countries with highest orphan population often get caught in a vicious cycle of criminal activities and eventually end up in prison.
We created the list of 11 countries with the highest prison population using Institute of Criminal Policy Research’s data. Besides countries’ prison population, we also present incarnation rates and occupancy level in penal institutions.