Incarceration rates in OECD countries as of 2019

Incarceration rates in OECD countries as of 2019

by Erin Duffin, last edited May 20, 2019
Incarceration rates in OECD countries as of 2019 This statistic shows the incarceration rate in OECD countries, as of May 2019. The incarceration rate represents the number of people in prison per 100,000 of population. As of May 2019, the incarceration rate in the United States was 655 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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Incarceration rates in OECD countries as of 2019

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CountryIncarceration rate per 100,000 of national population
United States 655
Turkey 318
Israel 234
Chile 231
New Zealand 214
Czech Republic 203
Poland 196
Estonia 194
Slovakia 190
Hungary 173
Australia 172
Mexico 163
United Kingdom: Scotland150
United Kingdom: England & Wales139
Portugal 127
Spain 127
Canada 114
South Korea 109
Luxembourg 107
France 104
Italy 100
Greece 99
Austria 98
Belgium 88
Switzerland 81
Ireland 81
Germany 77
United Kingdom: Northern Ireland76
Slovenia 64
Norway 63
Denmark 63
Netherlands 61
Sweden 59
Finland 51
Japan 41
Iceland 37
CountryIncarceration rate per 100,000 of national population
United States 655
Turkey 318
Israel 234
Chile 231
New Zealand 214
Czech Republic 203
Poland 196
Estonia 194
Slovakia 190
Hungary 173
Australia 172
Mexico 163
United Kingdom: Scotland150
United Kingdom: England & Wales139
Portugal 127
Spain 127
Canada 114
South Korea 109
Luxembourg 107
France 104
Italy 100
Greece 99
Austria 98
Belgium 88
Switzerland 81
Ireland 81
Germany 77
United Kingdom: Northern Ireland76
Slovenia 64
Norway 63
Denmark 63
Netherlands 61
Sweden 59
Finland 51
Japan 41
Iceland 37
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by Erin Duffin, last edited May 20, 2019
This statistic shows the incarceration rate in OECD countries, as of May 2019. The incarceration rate represents the number of people in prison per 100,000 of population. As of May 2019, the incarceration rate in the United States was 655 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.
Show more
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