Top 10 Countries With the Highest Prison Population


According to the latest available data, 10.2 million people are incarcerated worldwide, which means that 144 out of every 100,000 people are held in prisons. The number represents an increase of approximately 20 to 35 percent compared to 15 years ago when the prison population was 136 per 100,000. In this selection are highlighted the 10 countries with the largest prison population in the world, according to data from the Institute of Criminal Policy Research.  Top 10 countries with the largest prison population in the world

10. INDONESIA – INMATE POPULATION 161,692

In the country that is notorious for its own capital punishment for drug-related crimes, the prison population has almost doubled in the last 15 years, while prison capacity has increased by less than 2%. The most recent estimates show that the occupation level is 148%, making prisons a breeding ground for infectious diseases.

9. TURKEY – INMATE POPULATION 174,460

By 2015, Turkey had 222 prisoners per 100,000 population, a threefold increase over 2000. Despite the influx of prisoners, the number of prisoners slightly exceeds prison capacity. The current occupancy level is 101.7%, which is what makes Turkey the lowest among the countries of the selection. Moreover, the Turkish correctional system has many flaws including serious violation of prisoners’ human rights.

8. MEXICO – INMATE POPULATION 225,138

Over the past 15 years, the prison population has increased from 156 prisoners per 100,000 population to 212 in 2015. The report by the National Commission on Human Rights of Mexico has highlighted several problems that seriously interfere with the functioning of the correction system. Including decreased prison capacity, lack of security, mass killings and criminal activities behind bars. In 2015, the level of occupation in the Mexican prison was 125.7%, while in some prisons the number of prisoners exceeded capacity by almost 40%.

7. IRAN – INCARCERATION POPULATION 225,624

Iran, the country with one of the most notorious correction systems in the world, had 289 prisoners per 100,000 people in 2014, which exceeded prisons’ capacity by 61.2%. Torture, sexual abuse, simulated executions are the daily reality for many prisoners, especially those who are arrested for political reasons.

6. THAILAND – INMATE POPULATION 313,580

With more than 300,000 prisoners, in the year 2015, there were 465 prisoners per 100,000 inhabitants. While in most prisons around the world, one of the guards’ main duties is to prevent clashes between prisoners in Thai institutions, boxing matches between prisoners are allowed and encouraged by them.

5. INDIA – INCARCERATION POPULATION 418,536

With only 33 prisoners per 100,000 inhabitants, India has the lowest rate of prison population among the countries in this selection. Despite the low rate, India struggles with a lack of prison capacity like all other countries here. In 2014, the number of prisoners exceeded capacity by 17.4% and in some prisons the occupancy rate was more than 250%. In addition, two-thirds of detainees are temporary detainees who spend time behind bars while waiting for sentence.

4. BRAZIL – INCARCERATION POPULATION 607,731

Over the past 15 years, the prison population in Brazil has increased by 160%, reaching more than half a million prisoners by 2014. The increase in the number of prisoners has not been followed by an increase in prison capacity, which can host just over half of the current prison population . This, along with Iran, Brazil has more overcrowded prisons among all the countries of the selection.

3. RUSSIAN FEDERATION – PRISON POPULATION 642,444

The prison population has almost halved in the last 15 years in Russia. While in 2000 there were slightly more than 1 million prisoners, in 2014 the number was 642,444. Russia is the only country in the national team that has not reached its prison capacity. According to the latest data available for 2013, the occupancy rate is 94.2%. The notoriety of the Russian criminal system dates back to the mid-18th century when Russian authorities began sending small criminals and political opponents to Siberia, the hardest place in the country.

2. CHINA – INCARCERATED POPULATION 1,657,812

Officially there were around 1.6 million prisoners in China in 2014. However, it is possible that this number is much higher. There were more than 650,000 provisional prisoners in 2009. If this was still the case in 2014, then the total prison population was over 2.3 million, which would put China in the first position of this selection.

1. UNITED STATES – INMATE POPULATION 2,217,000

There are more than 2.2 million prisoners. The United States ranks as the second country by rate, which was 698 prisoners per 100,000 by 2013. Most of the prison population is concentrated in state prisons, followed by local jails and federal prisons. In addition, around 71,000 children were held in juvenile detention centers.