Incarceration rates in OECD countries as of 2017

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CountryIncarceration rate per 100,000 of national population
United States 666
Israel 265
Turkey 254
Chile 237
Czech Republic 216
Estonia 213
New Zealand 210
Poland 196
Mexico 192
Slovakia 192
Hungary 185
Australia 162
United Kingdom: England & Wales145
United Kingdom: Scotland138
Portugal 135
Spain 130
Luxembourg 121
Canada 114
South Korea 114
France 101
Belgium 98
Austria 93
Italy 93
Greece 89
Switzerland 83
Ireland 81
Germany 76
United Kingdom: Northern Ireland75
Norway 74
Slovenia 63
Netherlands 61
Denmark 59
Finland 57
Sweden 53
Japan 45
Iceland 37
© Statista 2017

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About This Statistic

This statistic shows the incarceration rate in OECD countries, as of May 2017. The incarceration rate represents the number of people in prison per 100,000 of population. As of May 2017, the incarceration rate in the United States was 666 prisoners per 100,000 U.S. residents.


Additional information on incarceration patterns between countries

The relatively large population of the United States when compared with other OECD countries in conjunction with the country’s extremely high incarceration rate means that the United States houses more than one half of the global prison population. Recent attention has been focused on the number of people imprisoned for minor offences. As such, a large proportion of the United States prison population have been incarcerated for offences that would see them fined or punished through alternative means in other developed countries.
Among this cohort are a significant number of people imprisoned for low-level drug related crimes. Critics have suggested that shifting policy toward drug rehabilitation for users and a focus on high level drug traffickers would have a positive societal effect whilst also lowering the country’s incarceration rate.
When removing the outlier of the United States, a level of variance between countries is apparent. This variance in incarceration rates among OECD countries suggests cultural differences in societal views towards punishment and rehabilitation. The Scandinavian preference of rehabilitation and the subsequently higher level of investment in such programs have resulted in Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Finland ranking among those countries for whom the incarceration rate is the lowest.

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