Russell Webster

Russell Webster

Criminal Justice & substance misuse expert and author of this blog.

The latest global incarceration figures

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Global imprisonment figures from July 2018 make for fascinating reading; including the fact that Hong Kong has the highest proportion of female prisoners.

Which countries are the most punitive?

Three new infographics from Statista provide fascinating information on prison populations around the world as of July 2018.

The first infographic shows that the USA and China imprison by far the most people followed by Brazil, Russia and India. These five countries imprison more than 5 million people between them. You can see England and Wales in 20th place.

The second infographic shows the countries who imprison the highest proportion of their citizens. Although the USA also heads this table of shame the rest of the list looks very different with a number of smaller countries — El Salvador, Turkmenistan, Virgin Islands & Cuba — particularly punitive. However, Thailand (6th) and  Russia (14th) are worth noting.

The final infographic shows the countries with the largest share of female prisoners. Here Hong Kong tops the chart with nearly 21% of its prisoner population being women, with the USA down in 18th place with 9.8% of its 2.12 million incarcerated people being women.

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Prison Compendium
The latest prison news

Everything you want to know about prisons…

Prisons can be an emotive subject and it’s important that governments, researchers, policy makers, pressure groups and others all base their views on the facts.

The Ministry of Justice publishes a range of regular statistical bulletins and reports with up-to-date information, often underpinned by publicly available datasets. 

These can, however, not always be straightforward to access if you’re not used to MoJ systems.

Therefore, I’ve constructed this compendium of prison information which will be updated when the latest statistics are published.

You can either browse the whole collection of slides (see further down this page) or follow the links in the bullet points below to go to individual charts.


If you can’t see the visualisation below on your device, you can find it here.

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